April 28: Novel locations

The picture at the top of the blog is one that I took from Villa Arson, an art school and gallery that is about 12 mins walk from the flat. It seems pretty under-the-radar, off the tourist track, but it’s definitely the best view of Nice you can get without an expensive villa. (It also has beautiful shady gardens, a fact I’ve parked for the near future, when Ted and I will be sweltering.)
I wandered up there a couple of weeks ago and there was an exhibition about a French “sound poet” called Bernard Heidseick. There were some very sweet students who explained what to do: basically you had to walk all around a bunch of minimalist white rooms and sit on oblongs made of grey cut foam underneath huge speakers. When you sat down, recordings of Heidseick’s sound poetry would start. One of them was of Heidseick reciting pages of definitions from Robert, which is a major French dictionary everyone here has, a sort of Websters or Collins. Another was a recording of students being attacked by police during the May 1968 demonstrations in Paris, repeated ad infinitum in shorter and shorter bits. So, you can see why Villa Arson isn’t on the main tourist trail…

Vincent Van Ted

The thing is, Villa Arson snuck up on me as a location in ‘my novel’ (sounds so pompous I have to put it in quotes). Some of you have read bits, some of you know what it’s all about, lots of you probably think yada yada yada when I bring it up. It’s set around a restaurant in Nice, and was set around a restaurant in Nice at least a couple of years before coming here to live became a reality.
Only two others are familiar with the whole thing: reader number one (Joel) has lots to say about it, but reader number two is my biggest fan. Actually he’s listener number two, but let’s not quibble. I like to read what I’ve written out loud, ever since I interviewed Gervais Phinn, who said he reads everything out loud before he presses Save. I don’t even like Gervais Phinn and his sentimental blather about a rural school teacher in Yorkshire, but there was still something very enthusing about his good humour. And he’s got me stuck with reading to Ted.Here’s a pic of Ted listening to me. He’s sitting on the chair Joel and I found for him on the street the other day.

Joel going to pick up his keys

Here’s another pic of Reader Number One racing off on a VeloBleu to pick up his keys, which he forgot at the restaurant. I like the French-Film-Out-Of-Focus quality, but maybe I’m just a crap photographer and he was in a hurry.


About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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One Response to April 28: Novel locations

  1. Mika says:

    Hi Suellen

    I really enjoy beautiful pictures and esseys from Tokyo.
    I love the picture on the top of your blog, everytime it makes me feel like I were there
    touching nice breeze from Nice.
    It is also fan to know what is like on the other side of here.
    Oh No! Joel stopped the bus! Well-done! I could read amazingly fast that part.
    Good luck for your novel!!

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