May 15, 2012

The maxims of the cynical old Duc de la Rochfoucauld are, like most collections of aphorisms, sometimes profound, sometimes just showing off. He said, among many rather neat things

‘One’s envy always outlasts the happiness of those one envies.’

I’m not sure if he meant this specifically, that the particular object of your envy …the  operatic career,  the violet eyes, the rich husband, the Bentley Continental …will be surpassed, fade, die, or conk out on the M25, or just that even those most beloved by Fortune will rub up against some kind of grief sooner or later.

The maxim is most likely true but to be comforted by this means facing up to the beastliness of one’s nature and admitting to being gratified by someone else’s misery. Naturally I  don’t wish any misfortune on the owners of Cottesbrooke Hall,  a magnificent demesne not far from where I live …on the contrary, long may they prosper and kindly continue to open their house and garden to people like me …but every time I go there I ‘m filled with an awful kind of desire/ covetousness/envy for these lead eagles on these gateposts, which seem to me so beautiful.

I know that if … by donning a cloak made from star sparks and muttering a spell …I managed to acquire them I should have to remodel my entire house and garden to suit their grandeur and that they look much better at Cottesbrooke (built 1713 by Francis Smith of Warwick)

but still I cannot see those eagles without a painful longing to own them myself.

You do not, anyway,  enjoy your own modest belongings in  the same way as you admire  other people’s because you always think how much better yours ought to be …if only you had been more expansive with the design … chosen a different colour …they were prettier last year …those damn pigeons have got at them … making improvements will not only bankrupt the exchequer but also send you to bed for a week with backache …

But here are a few photographs of my garden just now …

Rosa Banksia Lutea, actually a pale custard yellow, rampant, thornless, easy to grow, to my mind enchanting.

Sweet pea wigwams fashioned by husband

A tulup called Rai that is new to me. I particularly like the green streaks on the petals though they are of course untidy growers, being parrots