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We were seated at a table in Costamuchamoulah cafe, The Frog Prince

and I.  We were looking at the previous customers’ detritus, when a

waitress took an order at the adjacent table and walked straight past

our poubelle de la table, without engaging her brain cells to think about

efficiently clearing our empties on her perambulation back to the


Sacre bleu!  Would Simone de Beauvoir have let this pass, or would she

have whispered a smoke ring from her Gauloise and then blown a

gasket?  Would she have ordered pint-sized Sartre to take the debris

over to the counter?  The illogicality of the behaviour would undoubtedly

have annoyed such a bluestocking.  As an expression of mauvaise foi ,

would she have placed the unwanted crockery on someone else’s table?

Sartre criticised waiters whose movements were too waiter-esque.

Goodness knows what he would have had to say about those who neither

stand, nor wait, to quote a divine poet-philosopher whom I admire more

than the Existentialist. Maybe members of staff are asserting their choice

of not working at all.  (I wonder if my new neighbour Kate Moss worked

harder when she waited on tables at The Colony?)

So there we sat while my companion discussed the relative merits of the

solitary fading beauties in the café.  The éclat was when I realised that I

had a rapport with the authoress of The Woman Destroyed.  I realised that

I was not a Woman in Love whose identity was submerged by a male

object; neither was I a Narcissist who, according to de Beauvoir, would

construe myself as a desirable object.  Obviously, I am The Mystic, who

invests my freedom in an Absolute.

All too aware of the processes of growing older, my interests are more

focused on The Sorbonne than a sensually inviting sorbet.

The preface to Simone’s novel had proclaimed that she would deal with

the growing indifference experienced by the older woman. With critical

detachment, she would write a remarkably frank portrait, wreaking

revenge on the female predator.   All her female characters voice the

betrayals they have suffered from their husbands and children.

As Flaubert said:

The monologue is her form of revenge.

Mayhap I will take on her mantle.  Peut-etre, Hillary’s revenge

is political.

Simone’s character told us what it was like to lose one’s shadow,

one’s identity and mourned the loss of that

straightforward, genuine authentic woman, without mean-mindedness,

uncompromising, but at the same time understanding, indulgent,

sensitive, deeply feeling, intensely aware of things and of people, passionately

devoted to those she loved and creating happiness for them…

She went on:

I cannot see myself any more.  And what do others see?  Maybe

something hideous?

Is this angst?  Is it Hillary looking in the mirror?

I know how she felt.  Why is the Frenchman not paying attention

to me?  Am I now the safe, maternal escort?  I must check this with

friends, Brassie and Clammie, with the caution that when Simone

asked Lucienne how she would have described her, she received the

reply: idealistic.

Then Lucienne asked her: How do you see yourself?

As a marshland.  Everything is buried in the mud.

Eh bien,  I might as well have the mini-mince pie, or the full-size

version.  This frog companion is not going to turn into a prince,

though stranger things might happen in the next week in global politics,

though I doubt it.  The voters are about to cast their dice.  Alea iacta erit.

Eat the mince pies while you can.  La Nausee might ensue.  Next week

we will be divining entrails, but it will be too late to choose otherwise.

I suppose we always long retrospectively for the road not taken and that

is the human tragedy.