passion fruit


Summer has arrived in Carpentras market. Stalls are heaving with the juice of fruits d'été, signs gaily announcing red berries of every kind - from the miniscule potency of fraises de bois to the massive health statement of the cut watermelon - as if offering us an invigorating blood transfusion after the long winter. This passionate abandon of tender young colour in favour of deep throat red seems sudden as we emerge shyly from our delicate green-time. It could, if anyone had invented it, seem almost vulgar.

I experienced something similar watching Clint Eastwood's latest film, 'Million Dollar Baby' a couple of days ago.


The pace and the subtlety of the performances drew me into a muted world - of big words unspoken, of huge emotions contained; a world in which it was enough to listen out for the beating of a heart to know you were loved. I was settled into this lilt of understatement - in which I felt I did know what 'Mo Cushle' meant even though it was never stated, and what happened that grows like a fungus between father and daughter - when suddenly the line comes out of Eastwood's mouth which spills scarlet all over the sepia screen. Never before have I been so caught out in a movie. My throat did not constrict nor did it produce a lump, but it opened and let out the beginnings of a primal wail.

The interesting thing to me is that I did know. It was not a surprise in terms of plot, but in terms of tone, of rhythm, like a great flattened sixth chord in Beethoven. Nothing harmonic we don't know or haven't heard before - simply timing and colour. In such moments where it is too late to prepare ourselves not to feel, we know we are alive.

Talking to Manuel at a dinner party the other day, I was informed that the French do not say 'I love you', or at least if they do they may say it once in a relationship. (Manuel has only ever written it.) It seemed a shame to me at the time, but watching this film I was reminded that it is the moments, which slip in-between our expectations and the cliches, which are our life blood. Cramming our emotional life full of casual "I love you"s Hollywood-style leaves little space for truth and possibly even shuts us down, causing the fungus to thrive.


Haven't seen the film so skipped that bit - but am green with envy about the fruit... our market is rubbish, and I did find some British strawberries in Tesco on Sat but they didn't smell of strawberry at all and they were £2.38 for 400g so they stayed on the shelf. Alongside the tired-looking satsumas from Argentina, tasteless apples from New Zealand and expensive grapes from Brazil. I am craving huge quantities of toothsome fruit, surely it'll start arriving here soon...

oh dear, poor zinnia having to deal with tescos fruit selection - that takes me back. no there's nothing for it than to move somewhere sensible. people die here too by the way.....

I know they do but I can't speak French well enough! Dammit!

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