Orff we go!
`My name is Hermann Orff and you've never heard of me.'
`Oh, but I have. Luise has mentioned you several times.'
There was an upholstered bench behind me. I sat down on it.
`Luise,' I said, `has mentioned.'
`You. More than several times, reverberantly and with plangency.'
`What is Luise to you?'
`Lost. Gone. Two years only, then Znrvv! No more Luise. A note on the kitchen table like an unaccompanied cello in a studio with dusty windows.'
`Don't roll the credits over it; just tell me plangently when she left you.'
`Seven years ago with my sound man.'
`What do you suppose she heard in him?'
`And what did she ever see in you?'
`It doesn't matter, it's the flickering that gives the excitement. Being is not a steady state but an occulting one: we are all of us a succession of stillnesses blurring into motion with the revolving of the wheel of action, and it is in those spaces of black betwen the pictures that we experience the heart of the mystery in which we are never allowed to rest. The flickering of a film interrupts the intolerable continuity of apparent world; subliminally it gives us those in-between spaces of black that we crave. The eye is hungry for this; eagerly it collaborates with the unwinding strip of celluloid that shows it twenty-four pictures per second, making real by an act of retinal retention the here-and-gone, the continual disappearing in which the lovers kiss, the shots are fired, the horses gallop, rrks?'
`Luise saw all that in you, did she?'
`It isn't only that I make films, I am in myself a big flickerer and women respond to this. I'm so much there/not there/there/not there. Very exciting. It stimulates a woman's natural
`And yet Luise seems to have let go of you.'
`Nothing is for ever.'
From The Medusa Frequency, Russell Hoban, Jonathan Cape, London (1987), pp. 87-88.
No doubt I've broken all the rules, but even the early-morning experience with the local phone-box (which no one uses, I guess - I checked, and the card was still there, at any rate, when I drove back from the station yesterday) made me start to feel that all this leaving 4qations amongst the groceries just didn't gel with me.
Accordingly, I was glad that, when having an ice-cream with my ex-sister-in-law en route and showing her the Longrow bottle, a chap at the next table was interested, and got involved in my explanation to her of my impending visit to a certain (as of 3.00 a.m. on Sunday, I gather) 82-year-old of our acquaintance. So what could be more natural than to pass him one of my 9 cards with the Medusa text - I gather that others have disseminated multiple texts, but heigh-ho! - for him to read.
What, equally, could be more natural than for him to hand it to his lady partner when she returned, from the loo (I think), and for her to read it, and be told about the novelist and his gift of whisky - quite reasonably, she read it, folded it in two, and put it in her bag...
So the scene was inevitably set for the following 8 distributions (of which, needless to say, there are no photographs - I'm not *that* strange):
1. After a refusal by my neighbour on the Piccadilly Line, to a woman next to me on the District Line who was reading a book (she asked if I had written the piece - I said that I hadn't and briefly explained).
2 & 3. To the two female staff on duty at Auntie Anne's cookie outlet at Fulham Broadway - they wanted one each.
4. To the vendress of nuts and the like under the name of Cranberry who sold me 50g of cashews.
5. To the saleswoman at Virgin® (where I bought The Rutles for Russ - he didn't know of it, so I described it as a piss-take of The Beatles).
6 & 7. To the two female bar staff, post distribution, to whom I was attempting to explain that others clutching Hoban books and/or A4 of a certain hue might be looking for me.
8. Finally, to the attractive woman with a shawl who was keeping her friend company on her birthday (yes, 4 February) at a table nearby, who, unlike her friend (who said that she was too drunk to read it), read the piece and thought that what she described as Russ' 'punctuation' was odd. (Questioning revealed that she had (a) not understood the shocked incoherence of Orff in context when he reports saying "`Luise,' I said, `has mentioned.'", and (b) that she meant the slashes when Kraken says 'there / not there / there / not there'...)
Unorthodox, maybe, but for me it was a far more human experience than skulking amongst the fruit and veg - and I could never do it any other way, whatever the rules. Sorry to shock you all, but no!
Anthony was the Kraken's 2007 'Birthday Bottle' czar, or the member who volunteered to co-ordinate the purchase and delivery of the group's birthday gift to Russell Hoban. This is his account of said delivery:
I can't guarantee that Russ will have broached the capsule of what he and I referred to when I handed it over as 'the gurgling stuff' by now and tried it, but he did say that he would look at the tasting notes first - I provided a copy for him in the presentation-box, on yellow A4 [card], of my posting to this group.
I can tell everyone that he also received (in no particular order):
1. The bluebird card as chosen, which contained the £20 Amazon voucher (as well as an allusion to pp. 71-73 of Gene Brewer's novel K-PAX, where 'the bluebird of happiness' makes its appearance). (Wording of card and voucher [of which there may be one, if the old film-stock permits] to follow...)
2. The Rutles on DVD from me, as I had seen it in Fulham Broadway's Virgin® - whilst I was biding my time - at a knock-down price (along with Dirty Harry, which, likewise on impulse, I kept for myself).
3. The attendance of a gentleman with a laptop who was doing a MORI poll when I arrived, but who obligingly allowed Russ to sign Her Name Was Lola and The Bat Tattoo for me, as well as adding the injunction 'BE STRANGE!' to my already signed copy of Fremder (on the basis that I sought words suitable to its impending re-reading). Let it be said that I have been VERY STRANGE to-day, mostly before I was encouraged to do so, which turned Russ' words into a sort of blessing or benediction on what happened, as well as a sanction for future strangenesses...
4. Sundry phone calls from family members who were busily rehearsing their renditions of the usual birthday song for when he should be free to hear them.
5. A copy (inscribed for him by me) of Italy, My Italy (or Italy! Italy! Italy!), that well-known compendium compiled by Thomas M. Phear PhD (with the assistance of Dr Pauline Sentence) - Belston Night Works, 1997 (0 907795 91 9).
I think that the list is properly concluded, save to say that Russ took all that was offered in good spirits and stead, and wished his best to The Kraken one and all, leaving me to go on my merry way to The Pelican for (what turned out to be) a less-than-Hobanesque, yet still SA4QE-oriented, few drinks, soup and Caesar® salad...
It was, though, a shame only to have the company of Nicole's apologies and Steve's bid at bi-location - unless there were other Hobanites there whom I failed to detect (but I don't really think so). Heigh-ho for the SA4QE drink! (Needless to say, I downed a Laphroaig® for the benefit of and in honour of the absent (and refused to-day's ever-present offer of the abomination of ice).)