Nostalgia within my own lifespan was never really my thing although there are certain milestones, perhaps a piece of music, perhaps the experience itself, perhaps even an inanimate object, which can trigger feelings.
Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s Islands in the Stream was Wife N1 for me, a blue point Siamese cat was WN2. Giuseppe Café was the lady who has done most damage to my soul. Polished cork tiling floors bring certain experiences back in waves, as do Bose speakers.
These things are fine to look back on and smile, just as other triggers are best to avoid. Not a problem.
Then there is another level, another plane and I’m damned if I can explain it. Much of the time it’s not déjà vu because I don’t get the sensation of having been there in a previous incarnation and yet it’s meshed so quickly with my soul and to be separated from it produces a hunger of such proportions that I can’t cope, can’t handle it.
When I reached Russia, it wasn’t until one Christmas Eve [western], walking across the square to the opera house, big snowflakes silently falling on our jackets, that something happened inside and that scene gripped then, continues to grip and is enshrined in my first book, mainly for myself to return to.
Last winter we had only one afternoon of snow where I live and the moment it began, I went all strange inside, going outside and not wishing to come back indoors. Rain does strange things too and Women in the Rain, on this blog, was no idle choice. Give me floods and storms, give me fire, just don’t give me blandness – it eats up the soul.
The strangest longing I’ve ever had and I’ve been racking the brain to work out why, is for the drive between Barbizon [Fontainebleau] and Paris. Yes, I’ve been to the former a couple of times and the latter many times but just why I should be so fixated with it, that it dominates my second book and the bulk of the characters over the whole tome … I simply can’t fathom.
But it’s very real.
I’ve heard that people, when they approach their time of exit from this world, tend to “come home” but in my case, you can lay me to rest somewhere in the French countryside, south of Paris, as far as I’m concerned. Make it le Forêt de Compiègne though and that has nothing to do with my life.
Not only is it the geographical area but it’s the time, the era as well. Seriously, your [not so] humble blogger seems to be from the first half of the C20th – its modes of dress, speech, manners, preoccupations and it creates an empty feeling of something lost, something I may have left and when I returned, it was no longer there. It may have been people who’ve now departed, perhaps wondering what became of me.
But why there, south of Paris?
And why, when I went to Russia, did accordion music do strange things to me and this song in particular? I never grew up anywhere within striking distance of an accordion.
Which brings me to this evening. There’s a song I can never play because to hear it creates an emptiness and loneliness, a sense of loss, a sense of futility, of happiness being a fleeting moment, a fleeting kiss in the middle of a dark, crumbling society. It’s someone in 1942, someone at a table with a glass of cheap cognac or whatever and the accordion player is over in the corner – do we ever know anything about these people’s lives? Do we want to? All dead now, of course, all taken.
He’s playing “Indifférence”, the valse-musette by A. Murino and J. Colombo  while Piaf is somewhere else in Paris, in a music hall. Perhaps he was in the 12ème arrondissement, chez Café Noir.
And I want to be in that café, just to see that accordionist playing this little ditty. Not just want to be there but need to be there. Then I’d go home to my lonely room with the 12 watt light bulb and the rusted tap, listening to the sounds of gunfire in the distance, all old friends and family now gone.
Why? Why do I wish to end up old and alone in a foreign land, which somehow offers comfort in its scant comfort? Or far less romantically, when I’m on my last legs and I try to escape the hospital and the nurses ask where I was going and I say Barbizon, they’re going to have a hard time of it, aren’t they?
And look how close I am to actually getting there, as the crow flies – I can smell the forest from here.
If Dark Logic is ever made into a film, it has to be partly set in Barbizon, where it abuts the forest, it needs Indifférence as its signature tune and it needs women such as the one below. From Dark Logic:
By the time Nadine arrived, it was late afternoon and they were ready to go.
The evening drive across the bridge to the left bank and then out of Paris was heavy and yet a delight – the city lights progressively diminishing until they finally found themselves in a night as black as pitch, careering along a country road in the direction of the unknown, with Nadine driving, Genie beside her and with him stretched out on the back seat.
The first drops of rain began to fall lightly and the wipers started up. He could see the ghostly curve of Nadine’s jaw reflected in the green light from the instrument panel and compared her to Russian women.
The differences were mainly in the lips with the French. Possibly the Russian had the greater classic beauty but the French woman knew what to do to maximize her seductive power. A French woman he’d known years ago had told him that they had trouble with ‘rides’ or lines near their mouths, simply as a result of speaking French.