La Maison qui rend fou

Yesterday I discovered Logan has never seen some of the iconic movies of my teenage years, specifically L’Argent de poche, Maurice and An Angel at my Table, so I went to the library to fetch them.

When I was a kid I used to watch a lot of French movies, every afternoon there was some French movie on the tv. I was very attracted to them because often they were set during the Seventies and they were about the generation of my parents, so they were about grown ups and I couldn’t understand a thing about grown ups but I really wanted to understand. L’Argent de poche was a revelation: it proved to me that adults actually are weirdos, they don’t just look like ones (with a very few exceptions). Unfortunately, I failed to learn French in the process (I was awfully bad at it) so now I have to rely on Logan when we travel in French speaking countries and I also failed to learn how to love Francois Truffaut in general (which makes me feel a bit ashamed). Logan does not like French cinema though. You should have seen his face when at the end of Le Rayon Vert. He liked L’Argent the Poche better.

An Angel at My Table has to do with the Bell Jar period when I started to notice how often women are pronounced mad and sent to some institution. Not a reassuring notion. Also I need to see this movie again because I used to thing Janet Frame was Australian, while I’ve recently realized she was in fact from New Zealand. There seems to be some confusion in my mind I need to amend. For the record, Xena Warrion Princess is from New Zealand as well in case you did not know.

Maurice was not an iconic movie of my teenage years really. Another Country was. At the time I regarded Maurice as a mild compare, very good for literary study and for Ivorian delight, but not as relevant. I know I’m being unfair. But I was very young and Another Country was a cult, you had to know someone to borrow the vhs, while Maurice was shown with great fanfare on prime time national tv.

Anyway, 25 years later, I locate Maurice at the library and go to the counter to borrow it, and what follows is the surreal conversation I have (or better, don’t have) with the librarian.


Librarian – You can’t have this, it’s R18
G – … [what I really wanted to say: HAHAHAHAHA is that because of deliciously young Rupert Graves?]
Librarian – You need to go upstairs to the information desk and obtain the dvd, then you can come back here and borrow it
G – … [wIrwts: will I also need le laissez-passer A-38?]
Librarian – This case is empty, you see, all cases of R18 movies are empty
G – … [wIrwts: yeah of course there’s the risk underage individuals may stumble upon them and learn something about the Edwardian society]

Later (after much walking up and down)

G – Here you go. It’s fun because the last time I saw it I was fourteen.
Librarian – Not here for sure.
G – … [wIrwts: this pathetic library did not even exist when I was fourteen, you had the library’s birthday last month and it was the 20th birthday, have you not noticed?]
Librarian – Your loan expires next Wednesday
G – Thank you [wIrwts: …]

So I went out in the rain with Argent, Maurice and Angel, plus Habibi (in hardcover), a Janet Frame novel, Mike Leigh collected interviews and a copy of Neverwhere (you know why),  and my umbrella was not where I left it. Stolen. It was a good umbrella. Ordinary, but good. I used to put the umbrella in the library locker, but a few years ago they eliminated the lockers.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of public libraries. The place where I grew up has an exceptional library so I had to face a few disappointments elsewhere, especially in this library where books are never where they are filed to be and Melvil Dewey is not revered as he should, but this is the first time a public library has felt unwelcoming to me.

And I love the rain, I really do.