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Monday, 4 February 2008

Roland Clare 2008

I chose a bit of Barbara Strozzi that I liked – wish I'd thought to leave a copy in the Coroner's Court. As it was, one copy went in the National Gallery Touring Exhibition entitled 'Love' in Bristol Museum, which seemed a suitably Hobanesque location, while the other went into the leaflet dispenser at Bristol's Folk House where I rather hoped there would be Tango lessons afoot, though a quick inspection didn't reveal any. Maybe somebody will be moved, by the novel, to initiate such classes ...

The Coroner’s Court in Fulham is shaped like a large telephone box, and my thoughts rose up vertically both inside and outside of it. The clear grey light that came in through the windows was cool and sceptical. Possibly it had heard too many lies to take anything for granted. Ten Bibles in the jury box, two more by the witness box. There was a poor box by the door. Behind the Coroner the royal arms said DIEU ET MON DROIT.

As all the persons having anything to do etc. drew near and gave their attendance we were sworn in and testified that everything had happened the way it had happened. Then the Coroner returned a verdict of accidental death, Bob was our uncle, and there we were out on the street blinking in the sunlight.

Barbara and I were looking at each other as if our mouths had forgotten how to form words. Eventually we both spoke at the same time: ‘Maybe …’ was our joint utterance.

‘You first,’ said Barbara.

‘Maybe,’ I said, ‘we could have dinner one evening?’

‘That’s what I was going to say.’

from My Tango with Barbara Strozzi
Bloomsbury, London (2007), page 158

Extracted from Mr Hoban’s most recent novel and dropped on 4 February 2008

in celebration of his eighty-third birthday

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