February 18, 2010

Books to stay sane

Despite full days working at the Institute I have still had time to work on my beloved RA. Bruce has worked hard on a new website http://www.radioaquitaine.org/ It's a lot brighter and engaging. Liam (SIREN/FM) is still working on automating the scheduling software (thank you). Eric has just sent me his first program (can't wait to listen). Clive is holding up the flag at the University in Perigueux, assisted by Clotilde and Marie-Dominique - merci bien. I've excitedly (well it excites me anyway) been logging into the radio computer in Perigueux from Australia. It works beautifully; isn't technology a wonderful thing...

In an effort to curb my frustration at not being able to return to France I'm devouring books - on the train going to and from work, working at my slow computer, in the bank, anywhere really. The wonderful world you're drawn to provides the escape you can't find in reality, until you return to where you really want to be. My favourites so far - Greg  Mortenson, "Three Cups of Tea" and Derick Bell, "Ethical Ambition". Truly inspirational stories when you find you can't get out of bed in the morning, providing a rudder during difficult times. 

February 2, 2010


I am torn in two - french and english friends come to say au revoir. I take refuge in pastis and serve that Australian classic gateau Pavlova which goes down a treat. One of our neighbours gives us a freshly killed and skinned rabbit, handpicked walnuts and handmade walnut oil as a farewell gift. We are honoured. This is the same neighbour who lent us his piano for the duration of our stay so my son could practice his jazz. Our village voisins have been very kind and welcoming. I feel incredibly lucky and depart with a heavy heart.
Several days later I have dinner with friends in Paris, she's just quit her job in the film industry to write novels full-time. She had a publisher for her first book before it was even finished and is currently negotiating a number of offers from french film directors.

Writers are highly respected in France, they're considered a vital ingredient in the development of a vibrant, informed democracy. Indeed Emile Zola's highly controversial letter "J'Accuse", featured on the front page of the newspaper L'Aurore in 1898, almost sparked civil war. And everyone looked to de Beauvoir and Sartre in the 1900s; interestingly de Beauvoir's observations in her biography "The Prime of Life" about capitalism a hundred years ago are just as pertinent today.

How I wish I could stay and continue the journey. Liam from Uni of Lincoln's SIREN/FM is still working on resolving the station playlist issues, Clive and Fiona are maintaining a presence at the University, and with Clotilde hopefully the three of them can generate student involvement. Local content is coming in, slowly. I'm keen to continue but once again have to put all emotions on hold.