I.’s job is in meltdown and as I sit at home wrangling with my book, I expect any minute to see him come in the door carrying the contents of his desk and rolling his eyes at being on ‘gardening leave’ – an expression that sounds even madder in central London than elsewhere. (And when used by a man who couldn’t tell a hydrangea from a hyacinth.) At the same time, his suitcase is never entirely unpacked, because he keeps disappearing to South Africa and Dublin for meetings and business skulduggery. It seems about five minutes ago since we were students going to the launderette at midnight, and now I live with a man who has a row of dark business suits in the wardrobe, who owns shoetrees, and who, making an omelette in the messy kitchen at ten o’clock at night, can be conducting a conference call on his mobile phone, while not losing a beat with the egg whisk. I am living almost entirely on salad at the moment – I would think the urge is something to do with writing (mental hygiene? a green thought in a green shade?), if it weren’t for the fact that they are such great, inelegant affairs, bristling with different kinds of leaves, and with my very strong vinaigrette. (I. is the domestic goddess, but my salad dressing is better. The secret is in the mustard.)
Last night to see an early showing of an Olivier Assayas film at the BFI – Heure d’été – which was very much the kind of thing I like, languorous, slow, French ensemble piece, with the inevitable chic jolie laides, Charles Berling and Juliette Binoche all discussing death and art around a table in either a Haussman flat or a beautiful, battered country house. There was even a scene with a reverent close-up of the unwrapping of a sugarlump and its dropping into coffee in those thick white espresso cups you get in cafés in France. (Truly, I softpedal things when they are in French…) It was part of a Juliette Binoche retrospective (she’s in a new dance theatre piece premiering at the NT and has an exhibition of paintings in the lobby of the BFI), but I headed off before the interview with her started – I’m not keen on actorishness interviewed, and while I’ve admired some of her films, there’s only so much quirky luminosity I can take. (Also, I've never quite forgiven anyone involved in Chocolat.)
When I left the cinema, there were some teenagers doing parkours (although that can’t call it that here, surely? Free running?) between the walls of the steps leading up onto Waterloo Bridge, landing like insects against vertical walls with no apparent grip. Walking up through Covent Garden was quiet, the crowds having been corralled into The Lion King. I. was being cagey on the phone when I got home, looking exhausted. Everything seems to depend on a thing that depends. Then later, as I stepped into the bath to take a shower, I found underfoot one of those little magnetic word tiles designed for constructing impromptu sonnets on your fridge door – this one said ‘étre’, and I. swears he has no idea how it got there. Much too much of a cliché for a French film.