Saturday, June 19, 2010

A nightmare and Midsummer Night's Dream

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When you walk out of our production of Midsummer Night's Dream you arrive in a fairy lit flower garden full of poppies, Fantin Latour roses, peonies and alliums. That is, if it is not pouring with rain when you probably choose to disappear under your umbrella.

We did have one glorious day in England. Luckily for me it was my one day off with Julian.

My husband has spent the last few months dealing with the proofing, delivery, signing and posting of his book. I have rarely seen him so worn and stressed. The delay in the printing process meant that the fork lift truck arrived at the foot of the Mont Ventoux several days AFTER I left on tour for two months, and not before. Luckily it was the day before they decided to close our beloved 'road in Provence' for ugly tarmacking. Luckily it was not raining. Unluckily Julian was alone. Despite strict instructions in capital letters in red from the printers that the truck should be equipped with lift and trolley and anything else a poor chap might need in the middle of nowhere to unload three thousand books, the truck arrived with neither lift nor trolley, or indeed anything useful at all. Julian was forced to take every box down by hand and walk it to the gallery. He became so exhausted in the process that he fell trying to save one, gashing his leg on something sharp and metal that belonged to the forkless liftless truck. He rushed himself to the 'Urgences' at Carpentras hospital where he ended up with six stitches before coming back to clean up the blood and face the next step.

The following week was spent in a vigil of dawn till midnight label-checking and printing, packing and visits to the post office. A few home grown lettuces were rescued from the mistral, a bean pole or two erected to try and save our small crop, but that was about it. It seems there wasn't even time to drink. By which, of course, I mean, Côtes du Rhône.

The first feedback arrived on my iphone while we were driving. 'It is beautiful, stunning but.....' Oh no, we thought. I had flown home for a day and we were driving from Bedoin to Garsington together in search of some relaxation after the great book- birthing. 'But there is a gash in the paper from page forty eight through to page sixty.' We looked out on to the rain soaked 'Autoroute du Soleil' and our hearts sank. Was it a whole batch or a one-off? The hours before the next lot of feedback that confirmed the latter were long.

Luckily we had some distraction in the form of a tasting at David Clark's bijoux winery. A shy young man, David had recently been featured on the BBC which had caused his modest organic one-man show to explode with success and there were lovely echoes of Julian's New York Times moment in the air as the two men exchanged gifts: An unlabeled 2008 Côtes de Nuits and a book of paintings. Arriving finally at my B and B in Garsington ten hours later, we devoured the Burgundy with relish.


Five days later Julian had been to three operas and posted forty more books (the latter not without driving seventy miles in search of a real post office as opposed to a counter in WH Smith). We had walked in his childhood playground in the beech-woods of the Chiltern hills and dined at three gastro-pubs. He descended the stairs of the makeshift auditorium in to the garden of fairy lights, poppies, Fantin Latour roses, peonies and alliums. He was humming the chromatic tune of Britten's exquisite setting of 'I know a bank where the wild thyme blows' (which he will doubtless hum for the next three months) and a tear was in his eye.

We did it!

Now the European comments are starting to pour in.

I have just received the most perfect art book ever! sober, splendid, huge and marvellous photography , the brush strokes are vivid...

BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUUUUUUTIFULL!!!!!!!

La peinture de l'air dans les paysages et la pénombre qui étreint la surface tangible des choses.

The book has arrived and I am very much enjoying soaking up the ambience, countryside, weather, seasons, as portrayed in the wonderful pictures.

Thank you - a lot of hard work bearing lovely fruit.

I am so happy to have this book in my hands now! It literally exudes all the love and energy put into it...it is absolutely precious!


There is a glowing write-up on Making a Mark.

And now it is pouring with rain again in Garsington. My strings feel like knicker elastic, my bow like strands of damp spaghetti, my cello like an old crate. In the pit we are wearing thermals and hand warmers. Hot water bottles and old tartan blankets rest on our laps behind cellos and underneath bassoons. Meanwhile, back in Provence, the sun is shining. Julian has taken his own stitches out with the help of some vodka. Garden salads are being eaten from the potager, and Julian is at last harvesting his own beetroot, turnips and potatoes, and breathing, no doubt, a sigh of relief.

Having made this beautiful book, surely, is a dream come true. Almost, indeed, on a midsummer's night.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Dale said...

Man.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Katherine Tyrrell said...

For those a little confused by the posts I've written since the review of Julian's new book, you can find "The very best painter of French cheese I know..." on Making A Mark at http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2010/06/very-best-painter-of-french-cheese-i.html

8:52 PM  

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