The dress and the ladder

I wanted to share a song that I’ve been preoccupied by a little. It’s a song by the French singer-songwriter Francis Cabrel and, when put prosaically, couldn’t be more French. An adult looks back at a formative sexual experience of his adolescence, when he – basically – looked up the dress of a girl who had climbed up a tree ahead of him. Put like that, it sounds prurient and a bit pervy. So far, so middle aged French singer-songwriter. Continue reading “The dress and the ladder”

Just like two women

Francis Cabrel is one of my favourite singer-songwriters, coming from the region of France where I lived for ten years. I learnt much of my French from his songs, as he writes with a great deal of intelligence and poetic sensibility and love for language and music – in the best tradition of la Chanson Francaise but also set apart from it.

His new album, however, has raised some questions and for me it’s an opportunity to think about translation a little. Continue reading “Just like two women”

A reassuring afternoon in court

Last week I attended a family law hearing at Middlesbrough County Court in order to help liaise with a French courtroom, to set up a video-conference in order to hear an expert witness located in France. Being party to the proceedings was enlightening, and what was striking to me was the care taken by everybody present to¬†get it right. No stone was left unturned; nobody’s feelings or attitudes were left unconsidered; no potential avenues for falsehoods or confusions which might mislead the judge were left unexplored. I found it deeply reassuring that the family law process is so thoughtfully and carefully considered and that so many adults were so anxious to work together to maximise the happiness of a small troubled family.