No armchair for God today. Not even a paltry cushion.
No, I’m not having visions, I’m singing – in my head.
It’s an old song by the French singer, Charles Trenet, in which this line appears:
‘Et le bon Dieu dit boum, Dans son fauteuil de nuages’
a lovely image, don’t you think? God sitting in his armchair made of clouds singing Boum! with Charles Trenet.
This jolly live recording is from 1938 (yes, long before my time) if you fancy a listen.
It’s a song I learnt to love as a little girl, dancing around our ‘middle room’ – my dad’s study – where we had our gramophone. Not ‘record player,’ note – that, my father always said, was his role.
My mum would sing along to Boum!, becoming quiet and dewy-eyed as La Mer followed.
It’s a song with as many versions as there are raisins in a fruit cake. But the only acceptable versions are – I’m sorry, I’m firm on this – sung in French.
Anyway. That was my very long-winded way of saying – what a gorgeous, fabulous utterly marvellous day it is today.
So gorgeous I decide to wheel out the plum coloured bike without even thinking of rain.
Because the weather’s a fickle friend – today it loves me – but will it still love me tomorrow?
It takes me 15 minutes to reach the beach, belting along with chirpy Boum! on a loop in my head.
But as I tether up the purple bike and stroll down onto the beach, it’s replaced by La Mer.
I’m mesmerised by the lapping of the sea.
Sedate seabirds, like hundreds and thousands, spatter the shore.
Horses walk down, deceptively placid, on their way to a sweat-breaking canter.
The beach barriers are closed today – there’s no parking on the beach, it’s the end of the season.
And it’s quiet – so, so quiet.
A few dog walkers.
A man with big binoculars on the steps of the empty lifeguard station.
My mental batteries are soon topped up by sun, sea, sand and general gorgeousness.
Time to ride up to the bike café for a cup of liquorice tea.
Stop at the bakery for a high fibre loaf.
Cycle past the restaurant where we treat ourselves, now and then, to a special Sunday lunch.
And on – to the cemetery.
I love cemeteries. Some people can’t even bear to look at them – which makes me wonder if it’s a bit on the weird side. But I’m fascinated by monuments to the non-celebrated dead.
This one contains Commonwealth War Graves Commission graves – stray foreigners, doomed to find a field of England forever their home.
I tarry a while, reluctant to leave the sun-kissed, ivy-smothered angels behind – but it’s time I headed home.
To wash the sheets.
To hang them out – it might be the last good drying day of the year.
And eventually, to work.
Well, no, to be honest, not to work. To write this blog post.
Do I feel guilty?
Is it a wonderful day?
Every now and again I won’t say I deserve, but I relish a Boum! kind of day.
And, being lucky enough to live within 15 minutes cycle ride of it, I’m able to go and refresh my jaded spirits with – yes – La Mer.
Quite incredibly you’ve covered three of my favourite things: beaches, cemeteries and angel statues. In proximity to them all peace finds me. If it ever needs bolstering, it’s at the beach I find my connection to spirit. In cemeteries I find quiet reassuring calm… although I have no intention personally having my body interred in one. Angel statues have a strong comforting presence… there’s a beauty outside the engineering school within the labyrinth of Sydney uni, in my old neighbourhood dedicated to a (late) engineer by his wife who must have loved him very much.
I’m afraid that particular genre of music and the familiarity with French language is lost to me though.
Been trying to work out how to add more images for you but can’t – so will email a couple. They are so beautiful in so many ways. I’m a bit worried about the ivy … what with council maintenance cut backs they may never notice till she’s gone! I don’t want cremation – all that wasted energy – but would happily be buried in a wicker basket in wooldand (well, as long as I’m alredy dead that is!). My dad always said, ‘bury me in an apple box at the bottom of the garden’ but he was cremated – my mum at that stage upset and confusing what she wanted with what he wanted I suspect. Did you try the ‘La Mer’ link? If not, and I know it’s probably hopeless! – have a go at this one – more emotional I think – the one I have in my collection. Right at the end it becomes really emotional – bit like the Marseillaise!
I’ll grant Boum! Is catchy but La Mer is what I will now be humming for the morning 🙂
The ivy lends the angel romantic garb but practically I agree it not be for the long term better. Perhaps an email to Council?
Having spent the weekend with my MIL whose current favourite topic of conversion is her post-death arrangements… not likely to be required for some time, I couldn’t care less about my own! But I do hope when the time comes there are more eco-friendly rather than profit driven offerings than currently available…
Have you seen the latest burial ‘pods’ – grow a tree from me when I’m dead! Great idea …I’ll have a holly I think – or perhaps a weeping birch. Evergreen or deciduous? Or maybe a fruit tree? Whatever, a home for the birds. Glad you liked La Mer…
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I have seen them, I’m hoping by the time it’s my time there’ll be lots more options than are currently available in Australia now… and that time is on my side 🙂
Oh! Such beautiful angels – beautiful glowing beings turned to stone. I’ve always fancied they have hearts of stones though. What do you think?
Aren’t they gorgeous? The one nearly completely covered with ivy has me worried. Imagine you were inside and couldn’t move to scratch or swat insects.
And, no, now you’ve asked and now I’ve thought about it, I don’t think they have stone hearts, I think they have eyes that see and secret silent tears they can cry when no-one is looking. And maybe each time someone looks at them with love they grow a little happier – and maybe one day when they’re full to the brim with human love they’ll turn into free spirits and fly away! I think I’ve been overdosing on fairy tales …
Although not quite an angel, this poem – http://apoemforireland.rte.ie/shortlist/the-statue-of-the-virgin-at-granard/ – might give some insight as to the hearts of statues 🙂
Wow. That is amazing. Thank you, I would never have found that myself. It is really evocative and very moving. And much better than a fairy tale, though sadder.
The rest of the short list is worth a read as well. It’s thanks to blogger Sofia Moore of Top of the Tent who’s introduced me to Irish poetry.
Some lovely images here, MOH. And I’d never heard of either songs. I love the idea of God singing boum!
Thanks Charlie – it was by far the loveliest day of the year so far and I don’t think it’s going to be beaten – so God can relax in his armchair again now – he’s spoilt for choice in fact!
Ah! Yes! I remember it well.
Thought you might!
I hope you would have felt more guilty had you stayed at home and not embraced the day….doing a Tintern Abbey and stocking up on seratonin for the less ‘sparkly’ days ahead.Essential.
One of my outings with Hugh at the weekend in sunny,noisy,buzzy, West Norwood was to a favourite quiet place of his – the cemetery,just down the hill from his flat!One of the oldest,certainly in London and vast. With you on that one too,Mary.
Lovely photos;could smell the sea and really wanted to be there .
Now off to explore a Boum and La mer, and will remember the technical terms for the machine that does and the person who selects the vinyl….and whose arm is it anyway!
Hope you had a good weekend Judy – and too right about stocking up on sparkle – raining today and cold and decidedly miserable – but the new boiler is in and I can work the thermostat so no grounds for complaint! Talk soon x