November 2, 2009


I wish I could say that I am well-read.  I can’t say that and even after 10 years in France I have yet to pick up a book by Camus.  I know of something that he said though and how true it is.  I know it because it is taped up above the kitchen sink in a friend’s apartment and I sometimes get to do the washing up.


“To misname things is to add to the unhappiness of the world” Camus.


This irritates me for some reason.  Just as it annoys me that this is a single-bowl sink and the drying rack is miniscule.  And then I read it again and wonder if there is any truth to it?  Am I annoyed by the sink or by the fact that I hate doing the washing up?


I hate doing the dishes.”


You see?” says a ghost.


I go back outside to join my friends and the conversation turns to Estelle, my friend’s aged mother.  She has just called and I know it is her by the way Jean cradles the phone while he goes about doing other things.  He carries the salad bowl and 4 glasses through to the kitchen, he puts some scraps out for his cat.  He starts to wipe the table down with a damp sponge.  Every now and then he says “Ah hah”, or “Is that right?”  He puts the kettle on and his hands and face mime the question “coffee?”  I nod.


He gets off the phone and says his mother now calls on a daily basis with tales of woe and paranoia.  She suspects someone is stealing her money.  The woman who helps her with her shopping is swiping carrots.  She could have sworn that she bought five and this morning there were only three.  She has to tell him so he can come and investigate for himself.  So he can come and talk it over with her.


I am lonely” whispers Camus.


Jean’s girlfriend is in a prickly mood.  I ask her what is wrong.


“I hate it when he flirts with Magali at the boulangerie.  Its pathetic.  Does he know how foolish he looks?”  She takes a drag on her cigarette and stubs it out angrily.


“I’m not a possessive person.  I just feel embarrassed for him.  She is half his age!”


Camus sidles up next to me


I am jealous and have lost myself along the way.  I am jealous that he will find the missing part of me in a girl half his age”.


“How’s the writing coming on?” asks Eric, a talented member of our writing group.


“I’m getting into it, it is getting easier.”


He sighs, and shakes his head.  Explaining a joke to himself that only he gets.


“What?” I say.


“Nothing really.  Its just I don’t know how you can put stuff on a BLOG”, he makes it sound like I am dipping my hand into a sewer.


“I want people to read my work, I value their feedback”.


“I could never do that”.


I would love to do that but I don’t have the courage”.


“How do you know that some whacko isn’t going to track you down or might post sick comments?”


What if no-one likes my writing?”


“I see Olivier’s wife has a new car” says Emily.


“Three liter engine!”  She rolls her eyes.


“I may not have money but at least I have taste”.


I want money, the hell with taste”.


“Its not that I resent people for making lots of money for inventing a plastic widget that holds up ceiling squares but really, they don’t have to flaunt it”.


I resent people who make money for inventing things I could have thought up if I weren’t thinking higher thoughts.  And if I had that much money I would go on a spending spree to end all spending sprees”.



The girls are getting fractious.  It is time to go.  Ellie puts a necklace on and says




Amelie lashes out at her “Not even true!”


I need reassuring.  I don’t like sharing attention when I am tired” nods the distinguished man in my head.


I pull her close to me and give her a hug.


“You’re pretty too” I say


We go downstairs and as I am walking to the car I see Luc going for his evening stroll.


“Ca va? Luc”


“Oh no, he grumbles.  The rain is bursting my grapes.   And this wind, this wind is awful.  It gets into everything – the hens don’t like it and it is knocking the olives off the trees.  Finished.  The vines and the trees are not happy.  One of these days I am going to rip them all up, save us all the trouble”.

“I am finished.  I am old.  I am tired.  I can’t keep up with the vagaries of the weather anymore. I am waiting for the axe to fall”.

We arrive home and I take the children out the car with some difficulty.  Ellie wants to get out by herself but the car is parked on a slope and I have to hold the door open.  Amelie sits down on the driveway and says she needs to be carried.  The wind is whipping up dust and fallen leaves and all I want is to get inside and relax at the end of a long day.


I run a bath for the girls and Amelie refuses to get in.  Ellie is in but screams when I try to wash her hair.  She kicks and splashes in fury and I am soaked.  Their clean pajamas are also splashed.


Finally they are out and dry.  They sit down to eat.  Amelie picks up her fork.


“I want the blue plate!” wails Ellie.


She lunges across the table and in the process leans into her bowl of spaghetti sauce.  It makes me want to cry.


“Why are you sad?” asks Amelie


“I’m not sad, I’m tired” I say.


I’m not sad, I’m tired”.


“Malnommer les choses c’est ajouter au malheur du monde”.





12 Responses to “Camus”

  1. Bronwyn said

    Love the Camus thing – I’m going to have him in my head all day now! When my children hated having their hair washed, I learnt that they changed their attitude when I made my hand into a ‘puppet’ that spoke to them in a funny voice and washed their hair. I was amazed at what ‘The Hand’ got away with that mommy couldn’t!

  2. Leigh Hibberdine said

    This is lovely Kerry, something we can all relate to in some way or another in our own lives – I look forward to reading more!

  3. Aileen said

    I think this could be a whole novel: ‘Waltzing with Camus’, or ‘Camus on my shoulder’, or ‘The world according to Camus’, or ‘Tea with Camus’. I love the text/subtext approach – I feel this approach has depth, layers, something that could develop so powerfully that it takes over and you end up taking dictation as you watch your characters unfolding their story in wholly unexpected and profound directions. Please keep going!

  4. Stacey said

    I love it. It is interesting when people don’t say what they really mean or feel. I too have thought that many look down on blog writing. But I have decided I don’t care and am thrilled to have met some wonderful people across the world!

  5. Peut-être mais votre écriture ajoute à la fortune du monde, a aimé cette histoire – gentiment fait! Merci de visiter mon blog et faire des remarques aujourd’hui aussi!

    The Old Silly

    • Il faut pas malnommer les choses – je suis ravis! I have taken your advice on developing the Marie-Noelle story. The character I based her on still lives in the village and I see her regularly but she has sold her sheep to another young woman, Sandrine. I am meeting Sandrine tomorrow to interview her. She is in her twenties and is a hip hop dancer when she isn’t hanging out with her moutons. I have just started writing in earnest about 3 weeks ago. Your encouragement means a lot to me so thanks. I haven’t a clue what I am going to do with all these words but will address that later.

  6. diana said

    I love this. It should absolutely be published, maybe in an anthology of short fic. It is one of those short pieces that resonates with your reader long after they’ve finished reading the story.

    (Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m glad to have been introduced to yours!)

    • Thanks Diana, it is so exciting to get feedback from readers! I have only been writing for a few weeks but have always wanted to – I haven’t a clue how to get published but thought I would start by writing. I value your comments because we seem to have the same taste in books and interests.

  7. Susan said

    When I first read the Camus quote, my first thought was “a rose by any other name…” As I continued reading I realized that you and Camus, are absolutely right.

    Forget that other guy!

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