BARBARA WALL BARBARA WALL
Wind and Sea
IT is a mystery to me that poets have over been poetical about winds and praised the wild west wind—at least when I am on the boats train. Because then, for me, every flicker of wind is ghastly.
I watch the tree-tops and the smoke coming out of chimneys, and the washing hanging on its Iines as the train rolls along, and I look at the tails of horses to see if they're blowing, and also at the wool of sheep to see if it's ruffled up. 11 the smoke of the chimneys is whizzing about in all directions I explain that away because, of course, smoke hardly ever goes straight up into the air, and I wait anxiously for the next
washing line. If the clothes are billow
Lag about, that can be explained away too, because you never, never see clothes on a clothes-line just hanging limp. So I wait for the next clump of trees; but trees, contrary to drying clothes, always look stationary, so that too is misleading. Then, on passing through a small town, I see that a discarded newspaper is lying calmly on the pavement instead of being blown along, and some posters outside a newsagent's are still, not flapping up and down at the corners, BO that is good; but is immediately and sickeningly negatived by the tearing draught on my legs. Then I get to the silly stage that always comes with over-study, and I think: " Well, that spire isn't swaying about, so that's all right, nor are those bricks being blown off the cart." All this is the more peculiar as I am the best sailor in the world, and sit happily smiling when the stewardess is prostrate. It's just the anticipation. . My worst crossing was when I returned to France from England after Munich. Then the boat was an hour late in arriving because of the roughness of the sea, and in the cabin some girls who were returning to their finishing-school in Switzerland were crying out loud. On that occasion I had a one-year old child with me, who fortunately slept. Children on a rough sea are as pathetic as anything in the world—not understanding the cause of their terrible sensations and confidently thinking that their mothers—who, after all, can do everything else—could easily stop this if they wanted to.
* * *
" le Suis Partout"
ON arriving in France I bought a copy of Je Sias Partout, one of the best and brightest and most intelligent organs of the Right. The first headline I saw was very funny : "M de Kerillis, le meilleur alltd d'Hstler," followed by a scathing article. This was funny because de Kerillis and his paper L'Epoque has precisely been one of the chief haters of Hitler and Nazism all these years, and was an ardent "anti-Munichois." Je Suds Partout, a supporter of Munich and of as much peaceful arbitration as possible, was at that time naturally writing the most venomous articles against de Kerillis. So now it really is rather funny to find that not only is there still a cause of quarrel, but that it should be that de Kerillis Is "Hitler's best ally." It's rather consoling in a way; there is one stable factor in a collapsing world--Je Sues Partout's enmity to M. de Kerillis. It gave me a feeling of stability; the war hasn't changed France all that much. . . In the same paper there is an admirable article on Joseph de Maistre and his analysis of war: how he starts off from the obvious truth that " l'homrne dtant donne avec sa raison, sea sentiments et sea affectations, it n'y a pas moyen d'expliguer comment la guerre est possible humainenient,' and finishes up with the conclusion that " la guerre est divine." What this means I don't quite know.
kt 4 4
As I put my paper on one aide and penetrated further into France realised that it is very different since the war. Most of the men are gone, Paris streets are much, much emptier. Many windows, including the windows of the cafd terraces, are painted blue, and all shop windows have strips of sticky stuff stuck all over them-1 suppose to prevent the glass splintering and flying in all directions. There is much more red tape about such things as sanding telegrams and telephoning—for example, it is impossible for anyone to telephone to any military zone without special permission, and that includes all the coast towns as well as the obvious places.
Everything seems somehow quieter— as if Paris has a mute on it. The cafes aren't so full and it is no longer possible to look in to see if a friend is there without actually going in—because of the painted windows, It seems gloomier, somehow, than London, probably only because London life anyway takes place mainly indoors, whereas Paris life takes place more in the streets.