The Modern Salonnière

The Modern Salonnière was a post from 2015 dedicated to my great friend, Sarah Vernon, who died on 13 January. It is reblogged below as a tribute.

At the time it was written, Sarah was living on Crete, where she had bravely started a new life. That was what Sarah always did. She never stopped looking, learning and working. Every time she changed location, she embraced and contributed to the community. She was at home on islands, preferably in a warm climate, but she was always part of the main. And, yes, she hated Brexit.

Through bad health and bad luck, Sarah’s acting career was cut short. Like many actors’ children, she could never be sure if she would have gone into the entertainment industry if her parents had not been actors.

It wasn’t an industry or a job for Sarah: it was a romance and an art. Being an actor was her body and soul, an act of love uniting emotional aspiration with technical accomplishment, a child’s dream of perfection made real. Don’t put your daughter on the stage. It could break her heart.

Sarah could have been a casualty of the devil’s profession, but she had a brain, a life-sustaining sense of humour, and other artistic and literary talents to cultivate. She engaged in the present and the past with equal intellectual force, she was computer and internet savvy, she was an entrepreneur, and she was brave, till the end. She was still designing, still writing, during her last illness. Her mind could not stay still. She was inspired and burdened by heritage and history. The current state of Britain angered and grieved her.

She conquered social media, which is why I reblog this old post of mine, for her WordPress friends and admirers. As one of them, Pete Johnson, has written: “The world is a lesser place without her wit, her intellect and her talent”.


Foreshades of Grey (5 and a half)

or, To understand all is to forgive all


Hyacinthe Rigaud, State Portrait of Louis XV, 1715, Musée National du Château, Versailles. Image source: WGA
An hereditary absolute monarch plays with his toys.

Louis XV’s contemporary Rousseau (1712 -1774) was the first educationalist of the modern era to impress upon parents who could afford to educate their children in the first place, that they should not be treated and dressed as miniature adults.

Forming habits early on was bad for personality development. In a natural education, parents and guardians should provide “well-regulated liberty” for the child to play and follow his or her natural instincts. Before reaching the age of reason, the child learns through sensation, not through having ideas of right and wrong, and certainly not of entitlement, forced on him.

There was nothing remotely natural about Louis XV’s childhood.

Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner” is a French proverb of disputed origin. Madame de Staël wrote in her novel Corinne (1807): “Car tout comprendre rend très indulgent, et sentir profondément inspire une grande bontée” .
“To understand everything makes one tolerant, and to feel deeply inspires great kindness”.
With grateful acknowledgments to Fake Buddha Quotes

The Modern Salonnière

I’m blogged out, so a Lenten reblogging season begins early here with a day-dream about one of my best and oldest friends which was first posted elsewhere in the summer of 2013. Without her, I would never blog anything. You are more than likely to know her already….

While I was sitting in the dappled sunshine of the dying planet, reading my friend Sarah’s blog, two women coming from different directions met in my mind’s eye. They did not look or behave alike, but I saw them make a connection without a social networking site.

One of them was Sarah; the other one had just stepped ashore from a boat on my imaginary Lake Geneva, while talking volubly to a group of companions, who weren’t getting a word in. She was very loudly dressed, too. She was a very famous woman, whose life, loves and ideas I’d been recently reading and writing about, but now for the first time she appeared vivid to me.

Madame de Staël was always noisy and unrestrained, emotionally and sexually; her stormy moods drove away her unfaithful lover, misnamed Constant, while my friend Sarah never goes over the top or makes a nuisance of herself in public. She has classically and instinctively good manners; she knows why they were created in the first place, to make life pleasant for other people.

One of the sympathetic things about Madame de Staël was that she was a very loyal friend; so is Sarah.

Sarah lives near water, too; that is how I imagine her now, under clear Mediterranean skies. Though they both love hats, I’ve not yet seen Sarah in a bright silk turban like Madame de Staël’s.

MadamedeStaëlturbanGermaine de Staël showing off one of her trademark turbans, in a detail of a painting c.1810, attributed by different sources to François Gérard or, more likely from the style and background, Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy Trioson. Image source: Wikipedia

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