Thursday, September 20, 2007

H.E. Bates: Fair Stood The Wind For France.

1979-1983 were my secondary days, from childhood to ones youthful coming of age in a time, just like todays.

The kids, as they are now. Some bookish and studious, swottish and "stiffs". Some smoking and swearing at the square ancient gitz over 16, who just didn't get it; could never be hip, as one being young whose horizon of time was eternal and wrongdoing didn't exist.

As a teenager who knew Duran Duran were really nought but a flash in the pan. And words, came at my command, as "king of the one liner" who dispatched all with a quip off the cuff that came from ...only God knows where..verbally dueling and never beaten or bested; until the first flush of full beauty had gone, as i turned 31..32..33 and slipping into forty, facing down the OAP barrel, i never thought i would live to see today, but did so; and for this i give thanks to God.

A good looking gob no longer, alas, O woe is moi, with only a costume of masks to prove ones humanity and bluff with in the search for a soulmate who'll Love being a pensioner with me, when all's said and done.

For this is all i have. Literacy, dear readers, colleagues in Love looking for peace to move us prosperously forward, no longer looking down the barrel of a gun, needle or bottle, but wallowing in September sunlight.

And as one casts back to the time in class, one can hear a work of Literature that moves my hand here, now.

Fair Stood The Wind For France. The characters were a RAF crew who crashed and got sheltered in a farm house by a family with the Resistance, and the central love between Franklin and Francois. She with an unshakable faith in goodness and God. He, an agnostic loner, detached from all around him and trusting no one, till she came along. Frankie was a philanderer, losing himself in the bottle during a brutal wartime England.

His untrusting and world weary assumptions on humanity, challenged for the very first time when coming into contact with the French family, trusting still, faith in God and the moral duty of acting on the side of goodness in a treacherous time of collaboration and resistance to the nazi foe, which was the perfect scenario for Bates to explore the fundamental nature of humanity. Between the material and spiritual.

The gun Frankie keeps with him at all times, is the symbol Bates used to convey the essential intellectual core of Frankie's mental world view. One were the ultimate power resides with man, and the gradual dissolution of this psychological state came as he fell in love with Francois, and is exposed as a mirage in this passage:

"Frankie looked to the revolver and saw it suddenly as a useless and pathetic thing. He had become so used to handling a weapon as big as a house, and carrying enough power to wipe out a small town, that he had forgotten there were other sorts of power. He looked at the three people sitting in the lamplight waiting for a sound. He saw them, the three generations of one nation, as part of a defenseless people, as part of the little people possessing an immeasurable power that could not be broken...He knew it clearly now as a more wonderful thing, more enduring, and more inspiring power than he had ever believed possible: the power of their own hearts."

The story's surface had terror, war, drink and yet was not in yer face wound sharing, but deft storytelling, revealing an intelligence at work and the author, calling on the ineffable light of human goodness within, to maneuver the eternal.

I think that my passion for English as a child, was pot luck, as i had a great teacher, and played Malvolio at 13; the high point of my theatrical career thus far. It was downhill all the way since then, but still, introduced me to the joy of language. And i suppose mastering the intuitive nuts and bolts of it, depends on how much effort one puts in to acquiring "true" linguistic knowledge; which is..?

1 comment:

suzan abrams said...

I loved reading HE Bates too, Des.
I have read Fair Stood the Wind for France but there was also the Darling Buds of May and the Larkin family. Those poignant country tales were my favourites.