I have a mind that by habit wanders off on its own journey, tempted by a tantalizing image, conjured by a single word. I trot off down some twisted path, the thread of my thoughts caught on the bramble bush of some phrase , only to find as I look up that the conversation has all but unravelled behind me and I am happily lost. I can do this in any language but must admit it is far easier in French. As it is my second language I am not hampered as I ma in English by years of being told to concentrate, to focus, and if my mind wanders others simply assume that I have lost the thread and not that I am happily being entertained somewhere far more interesting “dans ma tete”.
Give me a word and it paints a picture in my head far more interesting and bright than any its mundane meaning conveys. Say tree and I am gone amidst the myriad forests of trees I have explored in my travels, the tortured pine by a greek beach that Jacko and I climbed one hot afternoon when we were very young and far to drunk ,the apple trees in the gardens of my childhood, the date palms of upper Egypt all flit like fairies through my head and I pause and stop and ponder, lost, as the French say, “dans la lune” until jolted back to the present where I have to tune back into reality and look attentive and hope no one has noted my absence.
Songs are a constant joy, French ones all seem to hold stories that weave such pretty pictures. They sing so fast and play with words so cleverly that sometimes you need a doctorate to understand them but what matters that to me? I can love a song to tears , dragged into it by the exquisite story it paints only to find later upon closer examination that the real meaning is utterly unrelated to the one I have given it. French songs are like poetry with depths upon depths of hidden meaning each open to interpretation, we discuss them for hours. And then there is the misheard mot which makes them, for me, even more exciting. So many French words have similar sounds and quite different meanings and thus I happily sing my own version only to have it shattered by one of my diminutive Anglo French offspring. Mummy he says he is like a wet dog (chien mouille) nor a crème brulee! Well to be fair Renan Luc’s lyrics are so wonderfully bizarre, this one seems to be about can his Russian security officer girlfriend who beats him up for excitement, stinks of vodka and sings like a bath ( do not ask my why the French sing like baths but just for once believe me he swears she does)I think him feeling like a crème brulee works just as well, its certainly more palatable than a wet dog.
My current favourite is Christophe Maé who wrote and sings “Mon P’tit Gars” for his son. For months I have been singing the line”Je te bois comme un Grande cafe “( “I could drink you like a big cup of cafe”) how exquisite a line, how evocative of parental all consuming love, after all don’t we tell babies we could eat them up they are so yummy? It is such a wonderful expressive image it makes my toes curl with glee, it reminds me of when the children were babies and I nibbled their ears until they giggled. The children were horrified, the French do not devour their children they tell me what he is saying is ”Je te vois comme un grand guerrier” which means “ I see you as a great warrior” hmm personally I think coffee works better, one of those big milky breakfast cups with a pain au chocolat or a buttery croissant would do nicely thank you.
Well you listen to it see what you think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6f8Grl8Fho&feature=related