Monday, July 16, 2007

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times

I just finished reading 'Suite Francaise', which was very sad. In fact, the appendix was the saddest part of the book. It is unfinished, but there is a sense of completion at the end of he book as it stands (two sections were finished). Strange how even when there are so many stories from WWII still manage to be so poignant. Maybe all war stories, but there seem to be most from WWII and they are perhaps the most sad. Maybe it is all the different facets of the war that can be covered. Concentration camps, the blitz, people fleeing concentration camps, the soldiers, the people waiting for soldiers at home, the perspectives of people from so many different countries. 'Suite Francaise' managed to capture the sense of the largeness of war, and the scope of people caught up in it, particularly well. It focused on 'ordinary people' in France at the time of the French defeat and occupation. It was written at that time as well, which gives it a different perspective, most books have knowledge of the eventual German defeat, in this one it is France who appears to have lost. There is a comic, detached and almost satirical tone to it, along with a sense of tragedy. People's faults and good qualities are all dwelt on, a sense of love flowing through underneath, the humour of everyday life and the contrast to the upheavals of war. It reminded me of 'Les Miserables' in some ways, and brought to mind that WH Auden poem, 'Death's Echo', for some reason (maybe because it is another recent acquisition, who knows?):
The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews
Not to be born is the best for man
The second best is a formal order
The dance's pattern, dance while you can.
Dance, dance, for the figure is easy
The tune is simple and will not stop
Dance till the stars fall down from the rafters
Dance, dance, dance till you drop.
(quoted partially and from memory).
WH Auden has a tendency to be gloomy.

So, just arrived in Canberra from Jindabyne yesterday. A good week of skiing, with snow so much better than last year. It was best on the first day and got progressively worse all week, so we felt we probably went at the best time. On the first day I fell over onto my face, hit my head on my sunglasses and cut my forehead as well as grazing it. Everyone was looking at me, there was blood, it was very dramatic but not very serious at all. We went to both Perisher and Thredbo: I've never been to Thredbo before, and skiied all over. I took a day off for my thesis, but skiied the rest of the week. We were all very sore by the end; note to self, exercise more before next skiing trip. Andrew is going to go off and ski for another week, I don't know how he does it.
We stayed in a house in Jindayne which was very very cold, and heated by a wood stove. Always fun. We also watched 'The Quick and the Undead', a zombie movie which is viing for the coveted position of 'worst movie I have ever seen'. 'Twas quite funny though. Seriously, the acting, script, plot, cinematography and probably costuming were all severely lacking in the quality department. Don't watch it. Also came to the realization that all my family are better skiiers than me. Very depressing. Goes without saying that Andrew is a better skiier than me, he spends an awful lot of time waiting for me to get down slopes, and then zooms off again.
What else... My sister was in a race with school, we watched the flare run on our last day at Thredbo, very pretty, drank lots of hot chocolate although I managed to spill a whole cup all over the table and my boots etc (it had a whole heap of cream on top and two marshmallows! A sad loss...).
Thesis progressing slowly...


  1. Anonymous17/7/07 06:31

    Did you see the forecast? snow down to 500m in Canberra during the next two days. I bet the mountains will be spectacular after that. And Canberra too quite possibly. There is thunder rumbling outside here in York. Other than that, it has been a bright afternoon. A lovely long evening for walking about in, having finished my obligations till tomorrow. Saturday was one of those rare but perfect English summer days. I was delighted to be here.

    While I think of it, can you leave a disc of wedding pix while you are there pls?

    And the war, which you dwell gloomily on? I think actually that WW1 had a bigger influence on the European psyche, and that we are still seeing the pernicious effects to this day. Of all the Europeans, the Brits have least forgotten the war, especially the second world war. It is always in evidence when you are here. It has just occurred to me that that must have an effect as far as the conduct of the "war on terror" goes. I wonder what it will be?

  2. Anonymous19/7/07 16:39

    Oh I see, it's Cat's Dad.


    Also, glad to hear that skiing was good, but also glad was not tooooo good, as I didn't go.

    Also, *vying.

    -Ang (unable to log in)

  3. Well, there was no snow in Canberra after all :(
    I left wedding pix in documents under catie, not sure which documents any more...
    not sure whether WWI or WWII had a bigger effect, you are probably right, WWI had a huge effect politically and on warfare and the formation of countries etc. but I feel that WWII had the most influence on literature, or rather spawned the most stories, although there are also a share of WWI stories out there. WWII had the Nazis and the atomic bomb, so a range of things for people to be upset about there.

    Vying! Of course *hangs head in shame*

  4. Of course, it wouldn't be Cat without spillage of some sort. Brrr... has been sooo cold in Sydney this past week, I honestly don't understand skiiers, I would be the person inside drinking mulled wine next to the fire.

  5. Mostly I like the line: "The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews"

    Well, if it was cold in Sydney, might as well be being cold where there is snow! It's actually not that cold skiing, because Australia's not very cold and because you're getting lots of exercise, which keeps you warm. Except on the chairlifts. On the chairlifts you need a protable heater :)