Friday, December 16, 2022

Christmas Carols

Is early December a reasonable time to start singing Christmas carols? We seem to agree it’s about right. You can hardly leave it much later, if you want to get your school carols night in before the end of term.

We also seem to agree that candles are an essential part of the carolling experience, despite the fact that candles, at this time of year, don’t take full effect until it’s about time for young kids to go to bed. Hence, every televised Aussie carols event will feature a mandatory crowd shot of toddlers crashing out to Away in a Manger while their parents carol on, wielding child-safe candles with something that looks like a surgical dog collar around the flame ... [read more]

On Proust

Around 20 years ago, I went to the Carnavalet Museum in Paris to see Marcel Proust’s bed. The mission was less frivolous than it sounds. Proust’s bed isn’t any old bed. He didn’t just sleep in it. He wrote millions of words while lying in it. It was his office, his workstation. 

In 1909, at the age of 38, he hit the sack more or less permanently to write the great novel he’d always believed was in him. He lined the walls of his Paris apartment with cork to keep out the street noise. He wrote by night and slept by day. The novel would be called A la recherche du temps perdu: In Search of Lost Time. It took him 13 years to complete. The finished work ran to 3000 pages, or 1.25 million words ... [read more]