Hello and welcome to my loo, my little downstairs loo, which has a small library on the lower left, which you can't see in this image, and into which we put odd, unclassifiable books - ancient paperbacks with yellowing pages which really should go to a charity shop, but not yet, odd self-help books to dip into and promptly forget, and then the odd treasure like this French story book (I can't describe these stories as fairy stories because they don't contain any fairies) which I haven't looked at for decades, and which I recently began reading. I love its surreal cover illustration, reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch, and the inside line drawings are similar in feel. The illustrator is Sylvie Francois, the writer Robert Escarpit, and the book was first published in 1975!
What has most struck me about these fantasy stories is how very French they are. Here we have a country afflicted with sadness - absolutely nobody is happy. The king tried to organise a ball to cheer everyone up, but the musicians play dirges and nobody dances. Along comes a prince (and yes, of course there's a beautiful but deeply sad princess) who sets out on a quest to bring happiness to the kingdom, ends up in Mexico where he discovers jumping beans which, it seems, get everyone dancing, singing etc, brings them back, gets a master chef to turn them into patisserie - et voila!
Likewise, in another story, we have a problem princess (beautiful, of course) who seems to be suffering from advanced anorexia - she will eat nothing save a few drops of milk. In this case, it's a peasant who solves the problem by entering a bizarre rural contest run by a pub called La Vache Enragee (The Furious Cow) and winning the prize which turns out to be - guess what? - a pot of the most fantastically delicious lamb stew. So, so French.
In France, much of this delight in food seems, sadly, to be dying out with the advent of supermarkets and junk food, but much of it still remains, to everyone's pleasure.
Yesterday, the very last of the legal paperwork relating to the movie based on one of my books was finally signed. It's been a long and very picky journey, and I fall into the category of signing (possibly my own death warrent) without properly reading legal documents (prefer novels), but hey! 'Tis done, and shooting - the unbloody kind - begins in ten days (unless there are more legal hiccups). I still can't quite believe that this is finally on the menu, but I'll keep you informed.
Are you a list person? Do you write lists of things that have to be done and then tick them off (or lose the list)? I'm becoming more and more aware that there has to be a novel in lists. I found some old ones today and they take me back to the time I wrote them and what had seemed important then. I found, heartbreakingly, some of my late husband's lists - they reveal so much. I wonder if anyone has ever written a thriller using just lists? The everyday stuff the villain might be buying or ordering in order to get rid of the body, or further back - his/ her childhood lists - so revealing.