Tuesday 26th of September 2023

letambour, expertise and gas...


As Jules Letambour lives in isolation like most (all) of us (except pontificating prime ministers and Trumps), he has translated and wants to share a bit more of Jacques Perret’s ramblings… here Jacques goes on and on about writers’ know-all expertise and about gas:

As soon as writing becomes a well-remunerated trade, one needs to have some real uncaring and a lot of finesse to tackle certain subjects. Should you for example climb to the highest summits while inviting readers to share your passions, should you rabbit on about the human anguish, the revolution, about order and anarchy — all this at the syndicated price per dictated page, with double spaced lines — or get ten per cent on full retail price of sales, minus the books that are remainded — It could be necessary to authorise your disciples to devalue the weight of your literary meanderings. You might think straight away that I am full of my own boots, and so be it : considering the price of gas and the evolution of behaviour, it can be admitted that defending an ideal should bring royalties to the author, good: that the value and the reach of a text has nothing to do with freeloading, yes. But between us, when we are told that enthusiasm and anger are the masters of our thoughts, a little move towards the till, as we say all we wish, helps to lower the tone.
As far as I am concerned, I admit that few people would see me as as a master of philosophic thoughts despite trying to introduce a tad of pretension : from time to time I adventure to use this annoying trick of the Parisian chronicle writer that is based on trying to find the meaning of the world or of the human destiny by starting from a modest news item, a street-scene or such as a bus running over a street gas lamppost, or about an illegal street vendor of gas lighters, unless someone committed suicide using gas. I admit that these gas examples are not the best as everyone knows that gas is a very important subject. If gas came to my mind it’s possible that my latest bill was too biting, but also gas nowadays is an affair of state, not to be confused with a gaseous state, which is the end of all states. As writers, our duty is to be as much interested with gas as with foreign politics, as well as rural machinery and about the new jobs that former ministers take, all things that are relevant to our status of co-owners/agents of the place, via our citizenship. We have here the joy and the pride to now have access to a new glorious gas, thanks to the glory of French sciences. Arriving after a long list of various gases, traditional and cosmopolitan, like nitrogen, laughing gas, tear gas, swamp gas, the Gas of France has been discovered a few years ago in the socialist labs for the well-being of politically mature homes. It’s very French, expensive and we will never pay enough for products and bi-products of the doctrine.
After this, do not believe that the price of domestic gas is a subject that excites me much, but because it came under my pen, I will try to do my best with it, for discipline only. To write on any and no subject is a discipline that comes easy when, in need of earning a living, one has had to piss much copy into the newspapers of the rotten press. The schooling was hard in those days when the chiefs decreed that it was not relevant that I included my personal allusions in my articles ; They wanted to publish objectivity and seriousness. I only do subjectivity while being serious about it because it’s easier. So, I will tell you that the gas inspector came to our place yesterday morning to, as they say, read the meter. This was not a happy moment in particular and the visitor isn’t someone to ask what good breeze is bringing him in but I cannot forget the geezer who, in times gone by, came in my childish sight to read the meter in the kitchen. In those days, meters needed a precise technical protocol to be read. The inspector under an official cap and with uniform, asked for a pan full of water, climbed on a stool and, under the watchful eyes of the kiddy, was performing some mysterious injections inside the plumbing and the dials of the bizo. All this process was accompanied by a conversation, the inspector having other things on his mind that just cooking gas, would open up about urbanity, talk about common laws without having to mention cubic metres and behave like a long established friend of the family that one can bring to the kitchen : my father, always inclined towards appreciating humble exchanges of fraternity, contributed with sympathy and seriousness. I remember once that as my father was taking the gas visitor to the front door with a ceremonial affection, that the man, impressed, took his cap off which was an exceptional gesture while on duty, but his pencil jammed between the cap and his mane, fell on the ground and rolled under a tallboy under which the two men, arse up, went looking for, amongst the dust fluffs.

Jacques Perret...

lost cause...

lost cause

As seen in a French newspaper from the Jura, where Jules now lives.

more about gas...

Jules Letambour, holed up in the Jura, avoiding boredom: 

As Jacques Perret carries on for another two dense pages about gas and considers the cost of cooking gas mostly related to our “economic casino” (yes, even in the 1950s, economic shenanigans were paralleled to gambling), another French writer wrote about gas in his popular San Antonio series. The philosophical discourse does not reach that of the trashy American pulp fiction but in times of coronavirus fears, one has to be distracted by the subtleties of a modern rowdy Rabelais, inspecting women’s undergarments while doing some police work — a bit like Dad’s Army’s troopers trying to find whether the recently sold bloomers on the Walker black-market had been made from a German or an English parachute. This becomes the cause of another virtual Mainwaring black-eye...

The German literature seems to lack this irreverence of wasting words and ideas for nothing, due to its strong philosophical cultural history, and the closest we come to detective silliness is “Inspector Rex” from "Austria". The series follows a German (of course) Shepherd police dog Rex, his partners and the rest of the team at the Vienna Kriminalpolizei homicide unit, as they work together to solve simple crimes — the dog knowing the answer to the murders way before anyone else, but can only bark and catch villains by the pants — though there were some stories about bundeskriminalamt published after WW2, considering that pulp fiction was verboten under the Third Reich which was also infamous with gas.

But had San Antonio not been invented by Dard, even by accident and desire by the writer and publishers to make a buck with crap, the French language would have become sterile and too full of insipid morality.

Here San Antonio, detective idling between two jobs, is philosophicationing about women. Hard to translate but "I’ll givit a go".

"… I am in the middle of my therapeutic indulgence in misogyny. Sheilas, if you want my way of opinionating, are sticking too much to us. As occupying troops, there’s no better than women. We’re talking about an army of vacuum cleaners saleswomen. If you give them a tiny second to enter your heart, you’re ratshit after this if you try to close the gate on yourself! They look everywhere, and not only where you keep your underwear and what you keep in it. And they are demanding, as not only you have to award first prize ribbons, you need to shout “bravo”. “Tell me, darling, tell me sweet things!” Ah ! No, I swear, being born into this world to pay taxes and answer such effing nonsense, this would justify a demand for a discount from energy suppliers, while preparing for a suicide using gas !…



By the 1960s, the academic world had become infatuated by Dard's use of language. Whole seminars were given over to the San Antonio books, and the way that Dard combined words; for "sleet", which consists of "rain-pluie" and "snow-neige", he would write of the weather, "il pleige"; on other occasions, he would invent entirely new Franch words, such as "adulttre". 

It is little wonder that there were those who thought he should be elected to the Académie Française. But Dard was not impressed, just as he remained unaffected by the admiration of French politicians, including the then president of France, François Mitterrand.


Interestingly, Dard tried to commit suicide (by hanging) in 1965, probably due to his "marital situation" which he solved by getting involved with another woman…

Since then, there could have other writers who imitated the style, but never with such "amoural” — if I must say — mostly sexy adventures.

Language is history of place and people, reaching technocratic and philosophical levels while trying to complexify our interdependence in misunderstanding. 

Enjoy Easter in your cave. 

Jules Letambour.