Reading Tim Moore at La Tour du Pin
All three of us, Tom, Tim Moore and I come into Lyon after days in the quiet of the Loire. I feel all three expect something here, after the rain and the solitude. We bring our mood, basically. And on the road that is a delicate, nuanced thing. Tim’s Lyon is a city of pimps, hookers, teenage thieves…he can’t appreciate the old part of the city: he calls “Hovis-advert hills in Pirelli-advert weather.” He’s staying on the outskirts in a thirteen Euro hotel, and most of his narrative is about its car park.
[Tom stays at the “Three Kings”]
“which is the fairest Inne in the whole citie, and most frequented of al the Innes in the Towne, and that by great persons. For the Earle of Essex lay there with all his traine before I came thither: he came thither the Saturday and went away the Thursday following, being the day immediately before I came in. At that time that I was there, a great nobleman of France one Monsieur de Breues (who had laien Lidger Ambassadoour many years in Constantinople) lay there with a great troupe of gallant Gentlemen, who was taking his journey to Rome to lie there Lidger [ledger?]. Amongst the rest of his company there were two Turkes that brought with him out of Turkey, whereof one was a blacke Moore, who was his jester; a mad conceited fellow, and very merry. He wore no hat at all eyther in his journey (for he overtooke us upon the way riding without a hat) or when he rested in any towne, because his naturall haire which was exceeding thicke and curled, was so prettily elevated in height that it served him always instead of a hat: the other Turk was a notable companion and a great scholler in his kinde; for he spake six or seven languages besides the Latin, which he spake very well: he was borne in Constantinople. I had a long discourse with him in Latin of many things, and amongst other questions I asked him whether he were ever baptized, he tolde me, no, and said he never would be. After that wee fell into speeches of Christ, whom he acknowledged for a great Prophet, but not for the Sonne of God, affirming that neither he nor any of his countrey men would worship him, but the onely true God, creator of heaven and earth: and called us Christians Idolaters, because we worshipped images…
I understand both men: Tim Moore’s book is of its times, just as much as Tom’s. in 2000 the attention has turned from the very public: Tom’s churches, his nobles who don’t wear hats, and morphed into a more private narrative about the things one person witnesses subjectively:
“I’d just passed a breaker’s yard full of cars people had died in…”
“…the showcase three floor McDonalds on the Place Bellecour was being systematically sacked by bored French teenagers…”
“…There is a bad man in parking,” I told the receptionist as we settled up….Il est concierge she said, very sad that my life had been blighted by such malignant paranoia.”
Tim sees what he sees, feels what he feels, within his context: travel as performance, and a very particular English passion for suffering “abroad.” It is about misery in the end; and Tom’s tale is quite fitting for the mood, as we shall see.
“At mine Inne there lay the Saturday night, being the fourth of June, a worthy young nobleman of France of two and twenty years olde, who was brother to the Duke of Guise and Knight of Malta. He had passing fine musicke at supper, and after supper he and his companions being gallant lustie Gentlemen, danced chorantoes and lavoltoes in the court. He went therehence the Sunday after dinner, being the fifth day of June.
At the south side of the higher court of mine Inne which is hard by the hall (for there are two or three courts in that Inne) there is written this pretty French poesie: on ne loge ceans à credit: car il est mort, les mauvais paieurs l’ont tué. The English is this: Here is no lodging upon credit: for he is dead, ill payers have killed him. Also on the South side of the wal of another court, there was a very pretty and merry story painted, which was this: A certain Pedlar having a budget full of small wares, fell asleep as he was travelling on the way, to whom there came a great multitude of Apes and robbed him of all his wares while he was asleepe: some of those Apes were painted with pouches or budgets at their backs, which they stole out of the pedlars fardle [small pack], climbing up to trees, some with spectacles on their noses, some with beades about their neckes, some with touch-boxes and ink-hornes in their hands, some with crosses and censour boxes, some with cardes in their hands; al which things they stole out of the budget: and amongst the rest one putting down the Pedlers breeches, and kissing his naked, &c. This pretty conceit seemeth to import some merry matter, but truly I know not the morall of it.
I saw a fellow whipped openly in the streets of Lyons that day I departed therehence, being Munday the sixth day of June, who was so stout a fellow, that though he received many a bitter lash, he did not a jot relent at it.
My train is very late now: this could be the chance to write about the inconsistency of French rail, the strikes, par grave…or the pounding rap, but that isn’t the point of this journey – not really. Tom romped through here; so do I. Very soon the mountains will be visible. He managed to complain very infrequently, and that seems right. Let’s give place a chance, eh? Misery seems so selfish given the choice to travel. And for most of us travel is a seemingly limitless choice.
Lyon, which I will write about extensively is the city not just of Rabelais, Interpol, the Lumiere brothers, music, food and fun: it also demands out respect.