I had to get out of the studio today because I knew the sea was there. I put on my beautiful Italian coat, long pants, gloves and scarf, looking good, walked outside, I was overdressed, I went with it. On the way down to the sea, we went by the Thai restaurant and ordered a take away to pick up on the way back. Down on the seafront that damned fence is still there, it ruins everything, you can’t take that walk along the prom with the sea, ominous, below you. So we went to one small section of walkway beyond the prom which is so dark that you can almost only hear the sea and not see it except for the white tufts on the waves. The tide was in, we walked on to the stony beach and got as close as we could – it was like treacle tonight, a thick moving sweet sticky liquid. We stood there for a while mesmerised by the incessant waves that have been banging against this shoreline for thousands of years. We stirred it with a giant spoon and poured it over our pre-dinner dessert and ate treacle sponge under the stars.
At this point, I took the Bowie knife from its sheaf and dug it deep into the heart of the sponge. I knew there was something in there, I could hear it crying. I removed the sponge from around the whimpering and there alone was a small biped, a skin of metallic grey, long fingers hiding tearful eyes, a fin, webbed feet and a golden ring on one of its four fingers. Exposed, the creature stopped weeping and slowly raised its eyes from behind its small hand. Its eyes were yellow and blue slits like a snake but sadness was obvious in its demeanour. About 6 inches in height, claws on feet and fingers and wet skin covered in crumbs from the sponge. Suddenly, the creature’s skin began to glow and in a flash of light, sponge and treacle, it was gone leaving behind a small key.
The key was black, matt black and as I went to pick it up it felt like fur. I held it in the palm of my hand, it started to vibrate and suddenly I found myself in a large hall, perhaps a cathedral except everything was green. I looked down at my feet to see there was no floor and above me buzzing sounds like bees. The key was gone and my clothes had changed. I was now in a red silk robe, a patterned edge of triangles and circles. I heard a voice behind me, it was the creature. It sat on a giant bejewelled throne, rubies, amethysts, diamonds and more triangles and circles in lapis lazuli. The voice was small and high-pitched like a cheap guitar. Then came this riddle:
“The treacle in the sea will never be,
The circles and triangles have decreed,
The sponge is invisible for all but one day,
And I just got hungry what can I say”
And then I was back by the sea, in the dark, Olivia by my side, no sign of the key, the treacle sponge or the small creature. I walked to the Maserati and started driving towards Portugal. Olivia sat by me and DJ’d, she played the Blood Winners’ first LP and Blue Rouge before we came to the English channel. In France the countryside flew by outside the car, we drove from Calais to Irun in 7 minutes and as we passed into Spain we noticed that the sky turned a bright turquoise and ravens appeared in the sky in more triangles and circles. I felt peckish and as we whizzed by San Sebastian and Bilbao, we entered into Portugal through Tui at midnight. I knew that I could eat a pastel de nata at any time in Portugal and I pulled over at a garage and filled up with petrol that looked very much like treacle as Olivia ran inside to pay.
One minute passed and we were in Porto, sitting at a café with a pastel de nata each and a Portuguese decaffeinated coffee, on the table was a jar of treacle with a picture of a wave on the label. The waiter came over and asked if we were okay and as I turned to answer him I knocked the jar of treacle off the table. It fell with a crash and broke in half. The waiter ran to the kitchen and came back with a sponge to clean it up, placing the glass in a small bucket. After he had cleared up he came back with another jar, different from the one I broke and I noticed on the label was the same creature I’d encountered on the beach in Penzance. It was holding a Bowie knife and licking its thin white lips.
Music today was Carla Bruni’s self-titled latest album, her fifth. You may remember that she is an Italian supermodel that married the French president Nicholas Sarkozy (they met in November and were married in February). She is trilingual (at least) and gave up modelling after 10 years to concentrate on music. She had released two albums before they met, Quelqu’un m’a dit (Someone Told Me) and No Promises in 2008 she released Comme si de rien n’était (Like Nothing Ever Happened). In 2013 she released Little French Songs and in 2017 French Touch. This latest self-titled album released this year is all in French except for one song in English, one in Spanish and one in Italian. It’s hard to get a measure of it because it’s a mellow girl singer-songwriter singing in French and that old maxim, “She could sing the phone book” might more generally be reserved for Kate Bush or another fantastic singer, but to my English ear, just the fact that she sings in French is intoxicating enough. Add to that me trying to learn French and understand the words and I’m in. I’m not there yet but I’m closer than I was, that’s progress. Soft French easy listening, what’s not to like!
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