THE AGE OF MODESTY.

2015-03-29+08.00.19

I’m self-isolating here all on my own. It could be a lot worse.

 

I’m in Paris. And can leave twice a day for bread, eggs, silence, architecture and a chat with a statue. Believe me, Paris is even more beautiful without Parisians.

 

And I have things to keep me going. I still have work. Then there’s a good cello, a decent library and the laundry. Bit by bit, they all help keep me off the gin and out of hospital.

 

The odd social post helps, too. Each day George Tannenbaum reminds me in a different way that we’re living, breathing, emotional humans, not numbers. Arthur Vibert takes me for a scenic walk. Dave Dye stretches my head. And odd mates send me laughs.  Thanks, all of you.

 

I got one yesterday that nearly killed me. In a nice way.

 

It was French cookery gone wrong. France has a culinary reputation, but paradoxically not every French citizen can cook. This was the best of the worst. Steamrollered gateaux. Pornographic Eiffel Tower biscuits. Geometrically square Easter sponge bunnies you could sell to the building trade.

 

I’m no great cook either. And I am a French citizen. But arrogantly, I thought I can do it better. It couldn’t be that hard. Surely. Piece of cake. I dusted down a cookbook from a long-gone girlfriend and blindly opened a page.

 

Clafoutis aux prunes. Plum sponge tart.

 

Measured the ingredients. Cut up plums. Beat the eggs and sugar, added flour and melted butter.  Poured it all over the plums, stuck it in the oven. Ding.

 

And for the next 30 minutes, I texted everyone to say I could cook. Posted the pictures of the dish in the oven. In came a tsunami of bravos. Envy, envy! Baked beans tonight for us, you bugger. You’ve talent after all. Ha.

 

Ping, 30 minutes up.

 

The thing looked like a fossilised cowpat. And you could have bounced it off the wall.

 

Serves me bloody right. Shame on me. Not for dismally failing, but for bragging.

 

Bragging means something different today than it did even three months ago. Then, it was good for business. Today, it’s bloody cruel.

 

Right now, everyone’s doing their best. Today, survival is a milestone achievement in itself. Yet right now there are freelancers who post to freelancers about how, while 90% of us are picking our noses, they’ve landed five brilliant new clients. Because, presumably, they’re either superior beings with wings or born when Jupiter was in alignment with Chelsea.

 

Oh, please.

 

It’s social media’s cruel side. The I’m-doing-great-so-why-the-hell-aren’t-you side. The side that satisfies a few, yet leaves a talented majority feeling hopelessly inadequate.

 

It’s a dank spiral. Kick the more modest while they’re down, and they’ll lose more than a livelihood. Bang will go the confidence. And so on. Down and down.

 

If you’re faring well in a crisis, then good on you. Just keep it to yourselves till the business is once again free to roam, relatively speaking. Meanwhile, remember that great creative people almost question themselves to death.

 

We’re all brilliant in our own way. There are chances out there. Let’s just all help each other get the confidence to find and use them.

 

Inspire us with wit, colour, outrageous thoughts, talks, anything.

 

Because today, I’d rather just see original work, original pleas for work, even confessions and gripes, than smell the toxic fart of a bragger. Like a failed clafoutis aux prunes, it might come back with vengeance.

 

Tonight, I’m doing Poulet de Bresse à la Créme. Wish me luck.  I’ll need it.

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