zaterdag 27 juni 2015

I Can't Remember #6

I can't remember if we had a television at Little Pines, a neat bungalow in a setting with pines and a huge hangar at the back. In the hangar stood a ping pong table. The little pinewood treasures a strong experience, that of the object of a tiny little bird, dead beneath one of the trees, and that day the barn got fire.

I can't remember what she said and how and why. It all of a sudden was too much. I lapsed to the couch and wept for at least half an hour. After that we never again quarrelled.

I can't remember the first half of the Tombuctu joke in which both Longfellow and Shakespeare are asked to dish up a limerick ending on the word Tombuctu.

I can't remember if I had bicycle pump with me, that day of August 1974, when I pedalled 350 kilometers to meet the girl I was in love with. It began early that day, but not earlier than 10 o'clock I guess. At twelve I reached the house where ancestors lived, near Ghent, lunch got served and I took off for a ride north, without anyone aware of that. The girl lived in Antwerp at a place called Floralaan 4. I rang the door. She wasn't home. Mentally unable to bike straight back home, which would have taken 100 kilometers, I took the road to Turnhout and pedalled after that to Bokrijk, where I had been once, apparently with the intention to overnight in the youth hostel. At the entrance of the hostel, at 7 pm, I decided to hit the road again, again biked to Turnhout and from Turnhout to Antwerp. It must have been nine o'clock at night when I again rang the door of Floralaan 4, after a heroic adventure of 350 kilometers. The door opened and there she was, the girl. We had a drink in a nasty pub and never met again. I can't remember the road back home.

I can't remember how I came to Perec. The people I knew discussed Joyce and Musil, the girlfriend I had read Milan Kundera and Philip Roth, I read Nabokov, Queneau and Charms. No one ever had mentioned Perec. It came out of the blue of the Dutch translation of Esp├Ęces d'espaces, I guess.

I can't remember that moment, immortalized on a black and white pic, late fifties or early sixties, when a nine old girl and me, much younger, crawled along a privet hedge.

I can't remember how many girls it had. I can't remember the girls. The booth was filled with a bunch of male locals. A balloonish prostitute introduced the girls. The girls stood in a row and undressed one after the other. It had a touch of unpleasant amateurism, without that akward charm of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. I turned away from the girls, looked at the locals, which wasn't easy as I stood in a sweating mass of people eager to see all of it. Someone snarled. He stood right in front of me. I can't remember his face.

I can't remember the first appearance of Philippe Noiret. It may have been Coup de torchon or Topaz.

I can't remember when I first heard of Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species. I actually never had heard of Alfred Wallace, until I began to read Song of the Dodo, Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions.

I can't remember the voice of my father. His voice disappeared from memory. One night, on New Year's Eve, he read aloud, he must have been drunk I guess, his favourite poem, something I had written. It was a weird performance indeed, my father, slightly drunk, reading aloud that poem and no one eager to listen to it.

I can't remember the first name of Modigliani.

I can't remember the name of both brothers. We met in Lambersart, a western suburb of Lille, in a house that didn't fail to have the impression of a delicate labyrinth with staircases to hidden rooms and rooms that could't be entered, most secret of all a library filled to its surface with books on esoterism, containing as well treasures such as L'Isola delle Donne, as her father had mainly been focused, apart from the esoteric stuff, on Indonesia. The elder of both brothers didn't like me. I can't remember his name. The other one often sat in front of a huge organ, improvising strange patterns no one liked. He worked as a postman, had his girlfriend in Douai and was said to be an idiot. The little woman, the lady of the house, she didn't behave as such though, served French oignon soup and salad and the meal that went with it. The eldest of both brothers began to puke the regular jokes, as any other material was far too difficult to get to.

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