Monday, September 08, 2008

Battle Stations

Last night I felt I'd spent a weekend being wrung out and forced through an emotional mangle. As I sipped life-restoring nectar, on my TWDB's advice (as he couldn't be there to proffer it to my trembling lips) - a delectable rosé from Château Puech Haut, I pondered the likelihood of surviving the next 10 years without ending up a gibbering wreck - years when my eldest and then youngest will be teenagers.

After winning Saturday's battle with said eldest over enjoyable, healthy activities, the weekend war continued with a suggestion that we go and see the Courbet exhibition that I hadn't managed to see previously. Why yesterday in particular? Well, it was the first Sunday in the month and would therefore be FREE - no mean consideration.

My TWDB was out of town, so we went with pal B whose idea it had been anyway. On hearing this, my eldest's hands were thrown up in horror and despair, Gallic utterances along the lines of 'oh no/it's gonna be so boring/I don't want to go/let me stay at home' etc. came out in a wail accompanied by a fine line in sulky grimaces and black looks. Frankly, anyone would think I'd suggested he go and see 'Angelina Ballerina' at the cinema instead of a renowned exhibition of paintings by one of the leading French painters of the 19th century which included the world famous 'L'Origine du Monde'.

He didn't actually have any say in the matter, despite saying a lot, and grumpily went and sat in the car. His younger brother was saving his devilry for later, lulling me into a false sense of security by happily taking charge of the sandwiches from the back seat.

"Let's go over lunch time when there'll be fewer people" had said pal B... along with enough people to send the queue round the block. An hour later we got in, the boys having spent much of that in the playground opposite which managed to wind my youngest up into a state of excitement which he proceeded to expend inside the museum. To my despair.

I'm not a great one for portraits, which was one of Courbet's means of earning his living so there were lots, but I did like his mise en scene where he painted himself doing something or being someone. There he was in despair tearing his hair out with a wild look on his face, or he'd be sitting at a table eyeing the world cynically as he leaned against the wall smoking a pipe, or he'd pretend to be a cellist, or a wounded man, and so on.

What with his self-portraits and his depictions of women in states of undress including 'Sleep (Le Sommeil)' showing two naked women sleeping together, he comes across as rather a jolly fellow.

The boys were most fascinated by two paintings showing a country scene of a pond by a cave painted on two successive years. They saw that they were the same and then naughtily suggested that they might be a 'Spot the Difference' pair. My youngest stopped tormenting my eldest and slipping through gaps in walls while he searched for 'les sept differences'.

As we got to the end, chronologically, my eldest declared his relief that Courbet was dead so we could go home, which we did, via a drinkie sitting outside on the Place de la Comedie. On arrival home, my eldest sprinted off to see his friends and that was the end of him until 7.30pm. I was quite relieved really...

Weekend war results: Battle 1 won by me. Battle 2 won by me. War won by my eldest.



  1. Hiya Saz!
    Would love to tell you it gets better...but as the proud parents of two wonderful 22 year old and 19 year old...hmmmm, I'd be lying! Still, we wouldn't swap it. Fx

  2. Thanks for those encouraging words, Fio...

    I can feel myself ageing by the minute!


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