With the wonders of “digital remastering” ancient rockers of my generation can enjoy again the pleasures of old 7-inch records, discovering or rediscovering long forgotten musical treasures . Ah! The good old “45 tours” (45 RPM) vinyl marvels, with their fragile paper covers, the beautiful or garish pictures of young stars in action… Ah Gene Vincent, Billy Holly, the young King… rock n’ roll, jazz, be-bop, blues… The little objects scattered on the floor of our rooms, sometimes mixed with the peeled off garments and undergarments of boyfriends and/or girlfriends, sometimes broken… Vinyl and Coca-Cola…
Vinyl, they say, enjoys a revival. A good thing for sure, for those of us lucky enough to still own a working turntable… And the sound of the needle scratching the surface! No serious mixing without needles and vinyl! Oh glory of vinyl!
Image: vinyl records shops in a small area (Reuterkiez) of Berlin-Kreuzberg, courtesy of Taz Berlin (issue of 17/18 April 2014)
Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em. They might be family dinners on special occasions, or having a particular kind of cake on your birthday (Jeanne Cake, natch), or popcorn at the movies, or meeting your friend for a 5k run in the park, rain or shine, every Sunday morning. What are your favorite traditions, large and small? What is it about your traditions that keep them going strong for you?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us RITUAL.
Kitchen: fresh water, fill the machine, check the beans!
Ah… the beans… glorious scent – time to grind, grinding, celestial smelll of freshly ground coffee, antique grinder…
Check the filter, equalize the lovely, soft ground beans… Turn on…
Now firing the Mac, curtains drawn back, dawn sunlight filtering through the still naked trees, time to start working… soft keys… sublime aroma from the kitchen: bliss!
Charles: how I miss him this maverick husband of mine, he who sends me those erotic little messages that never fail to affect me (in a sweet way)! He has to be away when I am getting more and more anxious – is this how I feel? – about our friend Monica. What are her intentions? Indeed what are Charles’ intentions? Am I becoming paranoid? Is this what the absence of the object of desire does to the ageing woman? Smiling to myself writing this “ageing woman”…
Well, maybe thirty years ago, but not now! Ah the marvel of medicine!
Charles’ last message, when was it? This morning at about three my time! Fortunately I muted the pad so I found those soft words of him at breakfast time, a couple hours later. He said Kyoto was cold, and estimated his return this coming weekend. I want him. Badly.
London, where I was yesterday, is drenched, the whole island is sinking, metaphorically for now, into the sea. Despite the gigantic efforts to control the planet temperature, over the last thirty years, this maybe where our science hits a solid wall, and, this time, not of our own making. Human activities we have now got under control, a development of a mere couple of decades, mind you, and that took a few disasters and a lot of tough work (as well as the disappearance, real this time, of a few “dinosaurs” on the right of Gengis Khan)… But planet engineering still escapes us, redirecting sunlight, recovering the deserts, all this is moving forward but at a slow, far too slow, pace. In the meantime we will soon be mining Mars…
I am lecturing at the Sorbonne, dear old lady, this morning. Will continue tonight. Writing is good for the soul.
Message from Charles Jeurève to his wife Céline, February 13, six am, Tokyo time
The conference went extremely well. It looks as if preparatory work for a formal protocol between the Federation and the Pacific Alliance should start soon. The North-American Union will have an observer too. I confirm my return this Saturday, not sure of the time yet, the shuttles are very busy, and I am privileged to be booked on one of the official European Federation special flights. Still working on the Azymuth article. I miss you too, and no, I do not lust after anyone else, silly girl. Consider yourself well, better than well, loved, by me.
Transcript of video call from Monica Ross to Céline Jeurève, February 14, seven am, Johannesburg
– … I’ll be back to Milan tomorrow early evening…
– Okay, staying there or?
– At least for a day, stuff to reconcile with the local office, but when are you free?
– Charles only coming back on Saturday, don’t know when yet…
– Do you mind if I land on you earlier?
– Of course not, I’m still lecturing today but will finish early – call me when you know will you?
– O yes, I am so pleased, kisses…
– Take care Monica, kiss.
Image: All rights reserved by George Christakis
For Elsa de B.
The square is crowded with tourists and workers on their lunch break: this is the very centre of the city.
Since I am waiting I take pictures, the ridiculous blue cockerel on its pedestal, the pair of Dutch students who want to interview me, the Chinese visitors on the steps of the National Gallery.
The city always amazes me, its dreadful traffic, its half-concealed violence, but also its awkward charm, its tramps, its grizzly beauty…
Yet I am waiting, a little anxious, unsure even if I could conceal it when I see you.
And then you are here, your beloved face a revelation, your smile an enchantment, and in your eyes the promise of eternity… and time stops.
Today is a day of mourning, for all those who died twelve years ago, for all those who died or were maimed in the years that followed since, sacrificed on the altars of folly, greed and bigotry. We will never forget. We will continue to pray for your souls. The world may have avoided – is it too early to hope once again? – another folly. Alas, we know, not for everyone.
Yet I wish to reflect on this Summer too, and the joys it brought to our lives, the cities we visited, the signs of life and hope we witnessed.
Yes, for a few days, we wanted to forget, to drown in the happy crowds, to savour art, the sounds of happiness, the beautiful faces of women. From time to time we too sink in blissful selfishness. And who could blame us?
Faces? Nina in London, Sarah in Berlin, Elsa in Paris… We admire you, we are puzzled, we search for meaning… As we witness the premises of Fall we relive little slices, cherished moments, of what is already our, and your, past, and wish we could watch this film, over and over again. But what remains is merely a few pictures, and some writing…
So, on this Writer’s Wednesday, we wish you, readers, a happy Autumn – or, perhaps, is it Spring for you? Love will save this world, for Love is immortal.
Photograph: Käthe Kollwitz’ Pietà, Neue Wache, Berlin (©2013 Honoré Dupuis)
I want to tell you today about two people I care very much for. I have known them for a while, indeed, they are close friends. You may have met them already there. Writing this makes be smile.
But I’ll let one of them, Daphnée, tell you, herself, how she met the other. So it goes…
D: I am a writer, and a successful one at that. I am also deaf and mute, from birth. This does not affect my writing, all the opposite. I needed a translator, for a novel that was so successful that publishing houses were pushing my own publisher to let them translate and publish elsewhere, for a lot of money. However I had retained the rights for other countries and wanted to keep my work as mine.
So I did some research, and advertised.
My ad said: “ Published and successful deaf-mute writer seeks an independent, proven and qualified translator, from English into at least three EU languages, as well as Russian and Japanese. Please reply to xxx.”
And Sarah replied, one of a few dozen replies I received. But hers was special. She said:
S: I am an experienced translator into four European languages (German, French, Dutch and Italian), and Russian and Japanese. I’d love to work with you. I must tell you that I am paraplegic from birth, and work mainly online. However I am prepared to meet you in town, if you wish, but please make sure you chose a place suitable for my chair.
I know how to talk to you.”
I thought about the last remark, and concluded Sarah knew sign language. I thought it was rather sweet of her to say that. Her credentials were perfect. Sarah mailed me a picture of her as well. I looked at it, hesitating, somehow moved by it. Her red hair came out of the photo, framing a beautiful elvin face, with a smile, well, explosive, lighting her delicate features. That photo went straight to my heart. I replied, and attached my own pic, that of a tall athletic black woman, who could have been a model. I said I wanted to meet, and gave her a date, and the address of a wheelchair friendly bar in London.
On the day, I was sitting there, the place was already busy and, I assume, noisy. I ignored the usual show of males parading and approaching. I was wearing my badge: “F***off I’m mute”. Then I saw her, she was wheeling herself into that place, gracefully, and I realised that the bar had fallen silent. All eyes were turned to her. She was exquisitely beautiful, in a way that only exists in dream, or in the mind of a writer. I stood up, went to her, greeted her in signs, she smiled, replied, and as she spoke I read her gorgeous lips, my heart beating the chamade, and I helped her to my table. We looked at each other, silent for long seconds. We talked about the book, then ourselves, then were silent again, just absorbing the pleasure of each other’s presence. We talked again about ourselves. Our hands touched, ever so lightly. Then she signed:
“ You are how I imagined you would be. I know this is a professional interview, and I am at risk of failing. I am just very emotional, and you are so impressive.”
She succeeded as you already know. Ever since, we have been working together, and she’s of course much more for me now. As I am for her.
We walked around Covent Garden, a light rain falling on the already wet pavement.
You signalled to me to walk into the new Apple Store, your beloved face upturned towards me, your red hair shining in the September light.
The young people at the door smiled at us, one elegant man came to us, and asked me: “Miss, would you and your companion like to have a demonstration of the new photo program?”
With your explosive smile you replied: “Sir, my friend cannot reply, she does not hear you, but yes, thank you, we would love to”.
And slowly I pushed your chair towards the demo area, smiling, drinking every second of our lives together: my red haired, o-so beautiful lover, in my silence.
Julian was walking down Regent Street, his Shuffle firmly strapped to his jacket, inhaling the atmosphere of London on a spring morning. He came to the junction with Oxford Street as the flow of commuters, the early rush, was beginning to ebb. This was not his most favourite part of London, this probably was Bloomsbury rather than Oxford Street and Soho, but he had fond memories there already, an adopted Londoner of some ten years.
On the right he’d soon find the Apple store, one of his sinful places (another being the Black Market records shop behind Carnaby street), where he could long for being richer than he was, smarter and somehow younger too. An IT geek in his mid thirties his thoughts often drifted to the way technology had shaped his world and his life so far, since his beginnings as a young test engineer to his role now, as a mid rank technical manager, proud of his experience and abilities. He walked in the store, smiling at the smiling boys and girls welcoming visitors at the wide entrance…