The first two pages.

It all began with the first couple of pages of Robert Dessaix’s Arabesques which introduced Rousseau and Gide in such a way that I was already embarrassed that I didn’t know anything about them.  Overnight I turned Rousseau into Rossetti (and forgot Gide) because I vaguely remembered a lovely sketch of Rossetti with a wombat.  I found pictures of the sketch and also learned that Napoleon and the Duke of Edinburgh had owned wombats.  But I then briefly mixed up the Duke of Edinburgh with the Duke of Wellington which afforded me an unusual vision of the Battle of Waterloo with wombats looking challengingly at each other.  My thoughts by this time had moved from Rossetti to Rosetta and I remembered a wonderful day trip to Figeac (in the Lot department and Quercy region!) where we were puzzled by the presence of a huge replica of the Rosetta stone (on which a game of football was being played) in a medieval courtyard.  We then learned that Jean-François Champollion was the first translator of hieroglyphics and was born there.  Having discovered that no-one believed my exclamations that Napoleon had a wombat I armed myself with knowledge that Josephine Bonaparte, his wife, had a fascination for Australian plants and that Australian paper daisies are said to still bloom on the island of St Helena having been planted by an exiled Napoleon.  Incidentally the young Rossetti looks quite a lot like the young Gide.  Right, on to page 3.

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