On Ambition : vanitas vanitatum!

I recently set about the challenge of writing a novel in one month. If this is a confession, then I must say that the novel was not finished. I console myself by wondering if a novel can ever be finished. I have learnt a few lessons from this experience: that it was a habit-building experience; that it showed the limits of vanity; that it remains an ambition.

It was a foolhardy mission, loaded with bravado and spunk. I told people almost everywhere I went that my objective was 80,000 words in one month. All of this was in the hope of spurning me on in the process. In the end, I managed 55,000. (But, again, who’s counting?).

In those recent heady days of a beautiful August, when I had fuck all else to do, I would pack my lunchbox and head over to the Pompidou Centre Library. I toiled away for about ten days, although in my imagination it was of course the whole month. Here, I developed a method or indeed habit from which advice was given me by someone I met at the PLU Writing Workshop. Here it is:

1. Read literary criticism (in this case, I am thumbing ‘Relire *L’Education* *sentimentale’*, edited by Glaudes and Reverzy.
2. Analyse another work (the book I am dissecting is *Les* *Mandarin* by Simone de Beauvoir.
3. Handwrite some elements of novel (passages designed to temper a certain style, a theme or other)
4. Open up the laptop and start writing (either typing up handwritten notes or launching oneself into the abyss of tell a story).

I shared with a friend over a glass of Petit Chablis that if such was the life of a writer, I wouldn’t mind being one. The ability to go to a quiet space, find a book amongst the yards of book stacks, and cogitate for up to 7 hours at a time. Et, o quel monde se retrouve aux tables de la bibiliotheque…

Now that 8th month is over and the 9th hammers back into rhythm, I still smart at not finish the novel. My ambition was cocky and I bragged about it to people, repeating often, ‘oh, in my novel…’ or ‘so, I’m writing a novel.’ Always a novel, sometimes a book, not yet finished. Maybe this is when I realise that either a) I feel no shame in not keeping my word, or b) I accept that as a natural consequence of human ambition, namely, failure.

Here we see the limits of human vanity: we aim big, as Machiavelli instructs the archer, and when we fall short, that is the end of the ambition. But do we go home? A shooting star that crumbles into the darkness of the night is at the end of its life; the chaos it left behind in its lifetime will remain forever lost from human view. If we give up our travails, and let the energy that propelled us in a time of fleeting (in this case, literary heroism), then we will come to naught. So, thus will I keep chipping away at this goddam book until it is done.

I now find myself back in the library, having finished a chapter on Flaubert’s use of money in his storytelling and writing a brief scene with my protagonist in a pub in Northern England. I have not given up the project, rather the ambition is tampered. Like a vintage model car you tinker with on the weekend, before taking it out for a spin in the summer next, the story I want to tell will taking some weekly polishing before it may ride free in the minds of others.

To return to the subject of failure, it is precisely this that the work deals with. I am convinced that we only ever do the things that we want to do. If you look back at the narrative you tell yourself, there may be parts that you wish you could rewrite, that you would have transposed to another time, or that you would simply erase. But that’s unkind to yourself; it is denying the fabric of your essence its own existence. Everything that we do, we want to do it.

I suppose, though, understanding and even accepting your own desires is a whole other story to be journeyed. When we turn the mirror of the pen to our own psyche, we will find angels and demons. If we keep looking, then we will see the cavern that they inhabit. And we put away the mirror, we will see the Book of Nature in all clarity.

Back to the library.

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“More than kisses, letters mingle souls” Donne

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After I had turned 16 years, I went on an Ancient Greek summer school for two weeks in Bryanston School, Blandford, Dorset. This was an adventure for someone from the North of England and a first glimpse of a small portion of society that not only would I see a few years later at university, but one that would be playing a visible role at the time of writing.

Pretentious ambitions, to put it frankly, filled my mind when I was there. And one of these included letter writing. Around this age, I started to become aware that a world of words, ideas, opinions, existed and for me at that time, the ability to write all of this down, send it with real pennies, and receive a response delivered in the same way, always with some variation, was a revelation. Just like standing at payphones, waiting for your girlfriend to call you back in another country, because it doesn’t cost to use a landline. A romantic ideal in that early 21st century.

There were around 100 people, if memory serves, who ate, lived and learnt together. (It was incidentally one of my first experiences of communal living.) I became friends with a boy from Oundle School (founded in 1556, whereas my own state, free grammar of Clitheroe Royal was founded in 1554, but who’s counting?) and after spending two weeks chatting about cup-bearers and nymphs, we shared addresses and struck up a correspondence.

I remember, in my last two years of high school, saving the letter to open in the library, read at my leisure and then compose a response between lessons. I would have to look over those letters again, which are currently stored in the place of my family penates, to remember what we discussed, but I recall now the experience as liberating and eye-opening. At the Greek Summer School, I had physically seen a world far from different from my own; in the private correspondence with my pen-pal, I could imagine, create and revel in it.

With various friends over the years, I have exchanged letters. One sent a series of riddles to me, which included soaking off the stamp to reveal a clue. Another insisted over a lengthy correspondence that I pay him back for the cocktails he bought me. Yet another would be cut short by a tragic end.

Then come the kisses. Love letters. Is there a word that conjures up more romance? It has been a heady mixture: Merteuil, Byron, Catullus, inter alii. I have written page upon page, declaring undying love, announcing troubled waters, planning exciting holidays and future trysts, opening up a side of myself that existed only within the intimate space of an A5 piece of paper. And yet, these letters have flown, like speaking promises to the swift, cold wind.

And where am I now? I have no correspondents, no incoming mail I rush to the letterbox to collect, no perfumed paper sealed with a kiss; only a string of tax bills, poorly bank statements and offers to buy an apartment that’s not mine to sell.

No more are those letters that keep me writing for hours, pouring out my heart and mind to the chosen addressee. And I feel much the emptier for it. Because John Donne was right.

P.s.

Luckily for me in 2k19, there are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I get to keep varied, punctual, brief contact with friends over the world. We can share hasty pictures and electronic memories with each other to commemorate something vitally important. With Paris Lit Up, I can help organise weekly events, writing workshops and worldwide tours in a way whose efficiency seems to scoff at snail-mail. (Incidentally, it’s more my colleagues who keep a better maintenance of this communication).

Catullus at the bar

A liberal translation of Catullus XIII

A friend caught me at the bar the other night and introduced me to his new woman. She was underdressed but, though a little desperate, had some good conversation. We ordered drinks, sat down and started chatting.

 Hows your job going, Ed? Not bad, I said. You made any money yet? I replied truthfully that the bossman, not the lackeys make the good money; especially if theyre so crooked as to sell their own ass sitting down, or at least that of the next intern.

 But you must be making quite a bit now; didnt you say you were going to buy a car?

 Now, to appear bigger than I am in front of this beautiful woman, I said: Fortune hasnt been so unkind to me in the private world that I am not able to buy a Mercedes.

 (Let alone a car, sometimes I cant afford a metro ticket and have to squeeze strangers asses just to get a ride)

 Wow, thats fantastic, this woman said. Can you give me a ride to the Rasputin night bar tomorrow evening? Im going with some friends.

 Wait a second, I spat my drink, what I said then – I didnt mean to say Porsche or Mercedes or whatever it was – but its my friends – Jason, no Geo, or someones. Basically, its like my own, and what do I care, I get around just fine. Anyway, woman, who are you to call out my charm? Dont you see that this is the privilege of being a poet?

 

 

Sounds of Evening

A tattered lamp shade projects light into the ageing night.

An airplane roars in the sky—way above where my head could ever reach.

It passes. The feeling fades.

I am alone with the muffled shouts from outside.

If I were to tell you that any cathedral outlives the wildest of Western spires,

You would laugh and say ‘stick to writing of gentle folk’.

With new light comes new eyes.

The room I inhabit is empty and the bird cage door is ajar—

Red velvet lies careless on the floor.

        Where have you flown, little bird?

        You are far from the babbling brook, singing on unheard.

        You are far from ancient wood that knows the step of mortal man.

        You are far from your Northern soil, that warmed you as a child in winter.

The final drops from the water dispenser, when you wonder—

Will you ever know home?

Repetition: You see now the cage is too big for you.

Difference: You will regret the benefit.

 

Surf and sound

Je vois les nacres nuant sur la nuit et,

Le nectar nébuleux d’un temps rêvé,

Qui nourrit le néant au fond de mes pensées.

La mer maudite mélange

Les longs mugissements de mon âme

Avec les martèlements maléfiques.

Le frappement de la marée

Encage mon esprit,

Envoûte mon cœur,

Enlace mes souvenirs teintés.

A Hot Summer Night

The summer heat was weighing in on the apartment, as the sun beat down all day and warmed the interior. Anthony came running up the stairs, hardly breaking a sweat, taking the steps two at a time. He didn’t stop to look at the numbers as he wound his way to the fifth floor.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said, banging his fist against the cold wood of the door. He rang the bell, tried the lock and searched for his phone in his pocket. Not one neighbour came to see what the fuss was about. He sent a quickly drafted message: ‘parle-moi en, je t’en prie’. No response. “Please,” he took to the door, “I didn’t mean to do it. It didn’t mean anything.”

Inside the apartment, Janet was carefully opening a bottle of wine. She could feel Anthony’s voice in the apartment, she could see his message on her phone, she knew they had to talk. She drank some wine, sat down and thought about men and their innocent cruelty.

‘Si je dois partir, je comprends. Je suis désolé, mais au moins parlons-en,’ he sent another text. He heard the phone ring inside, a silence and then footsteps calmly coming towards the door. Anthony stood back, ran a hand through his hair and readied himself. The latch came off and a small streak of light spilled onto the landing floor. She didn’t care to open the door fully; he could let himself in.

***

He left the apartment, his head feeling fuzzy, confused—relieved. He almost stumbled on the last few steps, but managed to grab onto the handrail. He walked down to the bar just around the corner, where he and Janet had smiled so often over the past year and a half. He sank a beer, and then another one. Then remembered he had some friends going out that night.

Forty-five minutes later he’s necking shots at a bar just by Pigalle. The wallet is out—fuck it, he says, it’s a Friday night. You know the feeling he’s going through. The moment you just want to forget that you are actually alive in a body; you want to become that cloud in trousers again, not just another sack of meat caught in the trap that Father Time left out in woods.

Was that man looking at him a bit funny? He’ll have to see to that, as he drained his glass before setting himself to confront a rival. ‘Tu regardes quoi, mec?’ ’T’es bourré, mec’. ‘J’suis pas bourré, mec.’ ‘Nique ta mère,’ came the blow. In an instant, Anthony launched a fist in his interlocutor’s direction, who ducked it and swung one in his ribs, standing back to see what his opponent would do next. Anthony was not satisfied. Trusting in the backing from his friends – who had already left for the next bar – he threw himself at the stranger. They wrestled around the tables for a moment, before the bouncer came over and separated them, threatening to call the police.

382 de La Rochefoucaud

Anthony wakes up early on a Saturday morning,
Hears the calling of the birds.
But senses the fall waiting for him
at the other end of his coffee cup.

Getting to work and taking the metro.
Faking enthusiasm for the route ahead
He leans over crowded seats,
Breaking his promise not to make eye contact.

His pace is hesitating
As he sits himself down.

Walking into a bar to date a woman.
He’s had to come far,
And perhaps this is fate.
Forget about the songs of love and hate,
And celebrate the union of
this very Universality.

 

 

 

October meets its end

Friday 26th October, 2018

Beginnings

I first met Cinna at Le Voltigeur, which means a type of soldier that is very mobile. There is a tree in the middle of a makeshift square and four or five watering holes surround it. Paths lead up from Père Lachaise; Place des Fêtes is just up a cobbled street and stairs where I once met Aphrodite; and the writing office used to be down off one of the roads. Of course, at that time, I knew nothing of this. And even now this area stands out only vaguely in my mind, because I have not lived here.

At this moment, I’m meeting someone else and the bar is closed; the awning is covered with moss and the beat up reality of the place appears an evidence. I remember being astounded that someone could dare drink two coffees in one sitting – I had been in a job where we regularly drank up to ten. An understanding over coffee and spider charts; and what things we have accomplished since!

Marva Collins

Marva’s Way has the same beginning as On The Road and so far a portion of it has been dedicated to growing up in black communities in Alabama and Chicago in the 50’s and 60’s. While Cassady was enjoying his privilege by obliterating his mind, this woman was trying to get on in society.

The shocking results that the American education system was in decline from the second half of the 20th century are discussed and solutions are sought. I wonder if there is a link between the two – the counter culture of reckless selfishness soaked into the mainstream in the 60’s; and it’s pernicious effects would not be truly felt ’til the 1980s.

And I wonder what the state of the nation’s education is nowadays.

The Party’s Over

Never insult Paris in the presence of a burly Parisian.

Saturday 27th October, 2018

Strolling

Walking from Passy to Châtelet via the Tuileries follows the Seine. Adèle made a music video there; in the 1920’s people seemed to have an equestrian statue fetish; Asian photographers are selling clothes and/or bridal services; Europeans are photoshopping girls. I stop in the Gardens to write a few lines, a grey cloud over the Louvre and the heavy presence of Culture hovering like lead.

 

Monkey House

In the oldest park in Paris, Le Jardin des Plantes, visitors can buy a ticket and see the exotic animals in the zoo. It is not up to this writer to cast a judgement on the act of keeping creatures in cages for the sensorial delectation of humans; in this piece’s reality, it is what happens.

The hot sun beat down on the soil in the park and the flowers seemed to droop in desperation. The visitors sought shade where they could, though some more daring folk went to smell the flowers or inspect the scientific labels. Some had seen on their phones that there was a chance of rain later in the day, which was hoped for by some in the park.

The animals were mostly moping about the dry earth, looking for shade where possible. There was a supply of water, but the heat had made them drowsy. Except for the monkeys, who were unusually alert. They were communicating much more with each other, shouting and scrambling about their adventure park.

The visitors that were gathering around the monkey house were staring intently at the sight, remarking on the singularity of their behaviour, but also perturbed by the slightly menacing air that the scene had. The monkeys were bearing more of their teeth when they opened their mouths, and mother monkeys seemed to be keeping an eye on their children more severely. This seemed like a leadership contest and a victor might be pronounced before the watershed.

An American family came out of the reptile house and stopped by the monkeys to see what was what. In one spot of the large enclosure, a pair of monkeys, perhaps younger than the others, had snuck off to a different area and were acting amorously together. The father and mother giggled at each other, looked at their children, squeezed each others’ hand and left the zoo, not seeing that another male monkey had come and beaten off the other for the female.

They sat together on a bench, taking out their sandwiches, remarking on how hot it was. They checked the map to see where they had to go next. After a few moments, it became clear that a group of ravens were interested in their food. Two had come directly up to them, while three more lay waiting behind the bench, making the father turn his head. They were surrounded.

“Just give them some bread and let’s get out of here,” he said abruptly. It was clearly not just the bread they were interested in, and when the family got up to leave, one of the slicker birds flew in to take the map, snapping at the father’s fingers as it did so. “Goddam bird!” He said with a curse. “Come on, honey, it will be fine; look, we can ask that couple on the bench,” said his more rational wife, taking the initiative in her own suggestion, though not without some frustration; she did not like the idea of getting involved with ravens, already flown off to their lofty shade.

The monkey house was simmering in the afternoon heat, with seeming arrangements being made and teams formed. There was the occasional screech, but they were mostly keeping the peace. One of the tourists outside managed to snap a picture of two monkeys confronting each other. He added it to his story immediately.

“Excuse me,” seemingly not noticing the intense conversation that was going on on the bench, “but you can tell us where Notre Dame is?” The couple paused, looked at each other and the man with a strained but understanding temper pointed them in the right way. “Thanks very much, sir, and have a great day” said the father, shaking his hand. If Frank was in any other mood, he would have appreciated the moment. As it happens, he found himself in a delicate situation.

“You know, I think I love you more than I love her,” resuming his early thread. “I don’t know if I would care if she found out.”

“Well, that’s exactly what she’s going to do. I told you; she’s got someone after us. And I think he’s in this park.”

“That’s nonsense, Sandra would not go to those lengths, I can assure you. If she suspected a thing, she would be straight on it, no holding back.”

“She’s been watching me, I’m sure of it. On my way back from work the other day, a car followed me for a good three quarters of an hour. I’m scared.”

“No need to be scared; Sandra’s a perfectly rational and compassionate woman. She knows we’ve been unhappy for years now. I don’t know how we’ve coped.”

“Yeah, but hearing that you’re abandoning her and the children for a woman fifteen years younger might just push her over the edge.”

“Do you have to remind me of this?”

“You told me you loved me.”

“I do.”

“So do I.”

It is at this moment that Frank catches in the corner of his eye a man with a camera behind the trees on the other side of the park. He curses, considers running after the man, but decides to wait it out in the shade. He needed to drink something, but he felt stuck on the bench, glued to Imogen. This is it, he thinks, it ends here; the game I’ve been playing and the lies I have told. Here it all finds an ending.

In the monkey cage, two powerful males have risen to the top, casting to their own sides supporters, depending on where the interest lay. Or this is how it seemed to the tourists who were riveted by the exceptional energy that this group of monkeys was exhibiting. Anymore and it might end up trending.

Frank wondered where his wife had found the money for a detective and, more importantly, when he or she had started following him. But as he said, he couldn’t find the energy to care for his wife anymore and sat on the bench, he slumped his greying head on the shoulder of a woman who had been carrying him for ten years. She wished him luck on business trips and heard all the stories of the children; she was the supportive partner he thought he had never had.

Imogen looked up to the sky and saw that it had gotten darker, heavy with urban precipitation, one large stomach ready to burst open. “Come on,” she said, “let’s get out before the rain breaks.” The get up from the bench, turn right towards the exit by the large greenhouse and that is when they see two figures, one more familiar than the other. It was Sandra and her brother.

“How could they have possibly known?” Frank said to under his breath, but loud enough for Imogen to hear. “I told you; she had someone on us,” she retorted. Well, this is it, Frank thought to himself, I must tell her in front of her brother. He’s not going to like this at all, the angry little brute.

Sandra had been tipped off by her sleuth of the whereabouts of her husband and lover. She had known about it for some months now, slowly digesting an extramarital affair that lasted almost two decades. Now, she was to meet her rival, and confront them both. She lived it as a tragically proud moment in her life, comforted by the presence of her brother who had agreed not to intervene unless necessary.

“Sandra…” Frank said, seizing the moment to speak. But she brushed him off and went directly to Imogen. “So you’re the woman who thinks she can scab off my household?” She asked cooly, but with a definite menace, not malice, in her voice. Imogen felt the stare of a betrayed woman look her up and down, she could see the studied, bitter resentment on the face of the woman she envied deep down, and was on the brink of capitulating.

Back at the monkey house, the tourists were having a field day. The two male monkeys who had been squaring up to each other were pushing each other in the enclosure. The troops around them were howling, waiting on tenterhooks for the moment, and it was strange to see that such a racket had not attracted the attention of the guards. But they didn’t care; teeth was going for flesh, and punches were being made.

“Look, Frank,” Sandra turned on him, “I don’t want to make a scene out of this. Come on, let’s go and get out of the rain and discuss this elsewhere.”

“I’m not coming with you,” snapped Frank in a tone that was not his own. “I’m staying here, with Imogen, the woman I have loved for the last 20 years.” Sandra buckled at the knees and was about to fall, when her brother came and supported her. Imogen seemed to snicker at this woman, just then so proud, cut down by Frank’s words. The brother noticed and with violence said “wipe that grin off your face, you whore.” “Don’t you speak to my fiancee like that.” “But you’re already married to me,” came a mumble. “Or else what, cheater?”

With that, Frank launched himself at his brother-in-law, who in defence had to let Sandra fall to the ground. Imogen could be heard shouting in the background, as the two men wrestled on the wetting dust around the tracks, their grunts becoming more proclaimed, the two women shocked by the scene in front of them. All of a sudden, there was a gunshot. The clouds broke, an immense downpour of rain. Frank became weak, falling to the floor, clutching his heart. The brother stood back and watched life wrinkle out of a man. The women were escorted away in metal coats, as heavy drops ricocheted off the metal. The police blues flashed their usual melody. The zookeeper puts away his rifle and watched the monkeys return to the old status quo.

Il faut bien servir à quelque chose

“Il faut bien servir à quelque chose…”

… said Paul to the man standing at the bar.  They clinked glasses and took a long swig of what each was drinking.  It was at this moment that a boy of about five or six came running around the corner of the bar, dodging in between the chairs of the tables by the large windows, overlooking the cobbled streets of Barbizon.  He was playing some game with his sister – it might have been tag – and she was laughing by the knees of her father, who was playing his own adult game at the bar.

The children breathed life into the greying décor, and a couple, no older than seventeen, sat and wanted to hold hands, because it was cold, and looked into each other’s eyes while all around them darted the stares of newcomers who had just sat down to take a hot chocolate.  Two plates of food were carried out by a waiter of the brasserie, delivered to a patient table and set upon like a winter feast.

With his most recent professional accomplishment, Paul was spending his time gambling in so-called PMUs, which gave him the time to unwind.  Usually on the horse and chariot races, in this bar there was only the bingo to while away the time.  This he did with consummate professionalism in a hobby, going out for smokes and drinking half pints of cheap beer.

A man with a hat on his head had walked in a few hours ago and was standing to the left of Paul at the zinc.  He wore this hat to keep out the cold, but when it was summer he wore a hat to hide a scar on his head.  When he came in, he ordered syrop au citron and thought about the times he was living in, and being artistic he had to plenty to consider, standing at bars in brasseries, wondering what the hell is going on.

He said hello to Paul, who respected his seniority and asked him what was what.  He replied that he was a painter, trying to catch the minutiae of a village with two centuries of printed history.  A fine task, said Paul with little reflection, for he was occupied with what his next professional engagement might be. No rest for the wicked.

All of a sudden, one of the children fell over a chair, having misjudged the amount of space to give a chair leg, but did not burst into tears.  The father put down his betting pencil for a moment, ready to pick up the child if necessary.  The couple stopped their chitter chatter to see if the boy was alright, and even the local drunk turned an eye from his beer to assess the scene.  Yet the boy simply looked at his knee, rubbed it and ran off to rejoin his sister.

In conversation with the painter, Paul admitted to taking a little break from his work, omitting that he had recently been charged with obtaining information about the forthcoming French elections and had needed to interview some very high personalities.  He had come to the countryside to take some fresh air and to march among boulders in this ancient domain.  The older replied that he lived there, exhibiting paintings in the village’s largest gallery.  Paul could not help but be impressed.

The man had a bag by his side, out of which – like some terrible cliché – a brush and palette stuck out.  Paul was intrigued by this and asked him to show him what he had in there.  “Si vous me payez une bière”, replied the older man.

Paul considered.  He could see the people around him and did not want to disturb them.  In this little corner of France, they talk about guns between themselves and the military.  Ostensibly, they do not support art that is not nationally their own.  But in Barbizon, there is something more, Paul had learned, and the locals do appreciate the artist.  In their own way.

“Allez-y,” said Paul and the older man removed from his bag a sketch book and soft crayon, which the older man was very well accustomed to handling, as well as dealing with the curious eye of the public.  Why do you think he drank so much?  He had painted all over the world, from Japan to the west coast of the USA and thence further East always, in some spiral to refind his birth place and to rest his ashes in his homeland.  He was stuck in Europe.

He and Paul continued their conversation over a cigarette outside and noticed that it had started snowing.  Paul thought of the final story from the Dubliners, remarking on the universal nature of art and its ability to combine the high and the low in one story.  “Vous êtes un méchant”, said the older man.

This pricked Paul’s attention, who then questioned him.  But instead of saying anything about it, the conversation became political.  As Stendhal would say, the pistol was fired in the theatre; the older man asked whether Paul thought Sarkozy was going to win the elections.  He did not exactly, so Paul gave his own two cents and they both returned to their beverages at the bar.

“C’est l’heure pour moi, je crois” said Paul.  “Avant de partir, je vous fais votre portrait”, replied the older man.  Flattered, Paul accepted, thinking his witty conversation had earned him the honour.  After all, passing through an artist town, one has one’s portrait done.  He stood at the bar, still like a shark, and surveyed the room around him.

When the portrait was done, proudly displayed on the bar, the other clients looked at it, looking at Paul and mostly nodding in approval.  Paul could not tell if they had done this before.  Even the couple holding hands in a tight embrace broke their attention to snatch a glimpse of the art of Barbizon.  Paul felt both intimidated and proud by this moment, and so he asked for the bill.

When it came, shortly before his taxi back to the station, he offered the older man a beer, who accepted it.  He clinked his glasses, threw the rest of his beer down his throat and strolled out of the café.  The couple stood up to pay their bill, silently nodding at the artist, and opened the main doors into the snowing night.  The father ushered his children along, telling them to stop playing, and left the brasserie.  The artist finally sat back on his chair, raised his glasses and said to himself “Il faut bien servir à quelque chose”.