4 a.m.

Wakened from a sound sleep at 4 a.m. this morning by the roar of big long trucks parking (as I discovered when I dragged myself out of bed to see what the h— was going on) on both sides of the rather narrow street under our windows. And then doors banging, men shouting, trucks idling, generators roaring. We had been warned by the arrondissement city hall that someone was making a fashion film on the Place, but nobody mentioned that they were starting in the middle of the night and would have generators going all day. I haven’t been out to see what it going on, because I am consigned to residence with bronchitis—a cough and cold etc I’ve been staving off for a couple of weeks but which finally got me. Well, at least I have an excuse for not being out and about seeing and doing all the things I should be seeing and doing.

I mentioned I’d seen the Bonnard show at the Tate Modern; I found it a little disappointing. All the paintings I know and love were there plus rooms of paintings I hadn’t ever seen, but which didn’t add much—indeed subtracted somewhat—from the ones I love, because they made me conscious of a narrowness in his technique and vision. The panoramic landscapes struck me as uninteresting, almost amateur; and then, of course, he repeats his structural tricks (the windows, the doorways). But the colours were still beautiful as were the interiors and gardens, along with his portraits of both himself and Marthe, his companion.

I remember feeling a similar letdown at a big retrospective of Braque at the Grand Palais some years ago—there was too much, and much of it was not first-rate, and perhaps I would rather not have known that. Which, I suppose, only goes to show how great the greatest painters are, and what some of the differences are. I imagine that goes for poems as well.

It’s a crisp, sunny morning—no, afternoon now and the walls are vibrating along with the generators. Perhaps the fashion shoot will pay for the fire damage to St Sulpice, which we’ve learned with cost $1m to repair; the fire was, it seems, criminal in original, set among the belongings one of the homeless folks who sleep in the church doorway, and which he stored during the day behind the big oak outer doors.

Almost forgot to mention that my new poem ‘Apple Thieves’ will appear in next week’s New Yorker.