Saturday 25 April

After much consideration, I have decided on my 3 books for the desert island. Vanity Fair by Thackeray: it was one of my AL texts so I studied it pretty thoroughly. I recently reread it, and also saw the TV version, and thought what a wonderful kaleidoscope it was, the battle of Waterloo, the scheming minx Becky Sharpe, all closely observed. Then Emma by Jane Austen. Again I reread it recently and realised that I enjoyed it so much more than when I first read it. Such classics are lost on the young. I learned about the irony but I feel I only now perceived its full force. Also my daughter is called Emma, so it’s an obvious choice. Then Thomas Mann’s Tod in Venedig. (Death in Venice). I need to keep my German going, and also it is a masterpiece of a novella. I loved the film starring Dirk Bogarde, and Mahler’s music on the soundtrack was perfect. So there you have it. I have heard a couple of other people’s choices, but more are welcome.

I managed a 3 mile walk today, having been a little lacking the previous 2 days. The sycamores have burst forth in luminous lime green. Against the blue sky they were spectacular. Closely followed by the horse chestnuts, whose candle-like blooms are now fully open. The hawthorn was blossoming too; spring is definitely sprung. We have covered the vegetable patch with netting, in that we have soft fruit bushes there too, and the pigeons descend and strip everything at the first sign of a currant. We sometimes have deer wandering round, they live on the golf course just behind our garden. Everyone thinks it is so romantic to have deer in an urban garden, but far from it. They are very destructive and munch their way through everything. Rod shouts, venison is very tasty, but they are oblivious.

Today’s earrings are once again Kenyan. They are squares of either horn or bone, coloured half in brown and half in cream. They are very lightweight which is quite an advantage. I am beginning to become embarrassed at how many pairs of earrings I must possess. Lockdown stretches ahead, and so does the earring box.

I returned to my reading of French literature. With a slightly macabre sense of the ridiculous, I chose to read Camus’ La Peste (The Plague). I am delighted that so much French has come back to me, although I sit with my dictionary and notebook just to be sure. I reached the point today where the doctor talks to his colleague about the number of rats which have died, closely followed by the number of patients who have died from nasty sweats and festering ulcers, and the words “l’epidemie” and “la peste” have been uttered. The colleague says, it started with rats in la Chine, (Canton) and transferred to humans. OMG does this sound familiar? Anyway, I have learned a useful phrase: “pas d’affolement,” don’t panic!!

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