7 Elizabeth Finn House
1 Ashchurch Grove
London W12 9BT United Kingdom
August 16, MM1V
Dear Perseus: In what (which) state does this letter find you? If memory serves we have not communicated since the passing of little Kirsten last year. I wonder now of course, if I shall ever return to London as the need has been drastically diminished, but none the less, there is always the chance that for one reason or the other I could find myself back in the cockney cauldron. Cape Town too, perhaps more so, has been on my mind these days.
A much stronger pull Cape Town. Something to do with youth and all its callings. At a “show shine” car show the other day I passed by a 1948 Ford and poking my head in the window to get a better look at the dash board I found myself ten years old on the steep Arthur’s Road in Sea Point lusting over a neighbour’s car.
So interesting how our noses can smell the past; the smell of a sandwich box opened at break time, or the nicotine familiar and welcoming stench coming off the pages of any of Kirsten’s books which now lie about this house in the Fraser Valley. So, is my future here in this dull as dish water outpost of western (almost) civilization or will I slowly migrate back to where my nose will lead me? I have an idea that my nose is writing cheques that my feet can’t cash. It’s the Fraser Valley for me. Filled now, as it is, with half the population of South Africa.
The South Africans seem to have adjusted (at least the men) quite well to this place. The women less so. Often the women return to SA in the hopes of resettling and then return once more to Canada to finally accept their lot – it is an expensive mistake. The South African men refer to it as the “$100,000 holiday” as it has become quite common. I still communicate with Barbara (Davis) Armstrong and she is in touch with Ockie Huyser, so I feel I’m still living in Wynberg Village. Malcolm Tait has passed away – not too far behind Kirsten – so the two old lovers are joined in eternity (well, at least until Alistair passes on and then kicks Kirsten out of eternity into infinity). Richard Muller has also died – I’m not sure of what, but I know it was not for lack of food or shelter.
So people are dropping like flies, elderly ones, but flies. And of course, not having heard from you for so long I wonder if you are reading this letter over my shoulder as I write it, or if you are still in that state where the letter has to drop in the door, you pick it up and have to read it manually. I always equate death with the digital world. Life is an analog existence – death is way more flexible and we can move around with ease, not hindered by spiking oil prices, rail workers, strikes or the threat (such a bullshit adjective “threat”) of terrorism. The “threat” – as though life itself were not threat enough. Let’s just add terror to the mix shall we? What news from London? I don’t think I should rely on CNN for its views. Too much Bush influence. The man’s a fucking idiot – I know I may be cited for being a tad unkind when I call Bush a fucking idiot, a scumbucket threat to humanity and a mother-fucking asshole son of a bitch, but its just that I do not feel kindly towards and cannot come up with anything kinder to say.
The US is in desperate need of reconstitutionalizing (to use an ‘merican saying), but the trouble is that if your starting point is “Liberty” you don’t stand a line-vetoe's hope in hell of making a renewed attempt.
Take the cynical withdrawal of troops from Europe for instance. No country has the right to have its troops anywhere, but in its own backyard, harassing its own citizenry. What about the Second World War, what about liberation? Well, what about it? It’s a crazy world, dude. The US only goes where it has “interests” – why does it have interests anywhere but within its fifty-odd states? They really are little buggers out to shove the cock of freedom right up the ass of dick-tatorship. That gapping hole is not the ozone – it’s the gateway to cheap oil stocks. Bush finds the turban disturban when driving around in his Suburban. The truth is he’s terribly urban and just one DNA from vermin.
So, here we are, my friend, in a constantly loud world, surrounded by a sea of mediocre consumerism. Were it not for the retailers of garbage and those who wander through the malls each day, there would be no economy at all. Kids between the age of 10 and 20 are propping up the world’s economies with their endless, ceaseless appetite for garbage. Where have the values gone, eh? As though I care.
And then there is this northern nuclear shield. What the fuckation is that about? The US is trying to persuade Canada to help with the funding and construction of a nuclear shield against attack over the North Pole – who is gonna get us? Peggy the polar bear and Wally the walrus? Please don’t say that North Korea is a threat, they barely have enough gas to put in their scooters. China? Oh please, they have bigger fish to wok. The Chinese are interested only in money – they have already figured out that the US is broke (getting broker by the millisecond) and would be a burden to own or even lease.
Frankly, the US administration is spiraling out of control. They believe their own bullshit – very dangerous. “Say it and it will be true” seems to be the motto for all the manderins in Washington. “Don’t say it and it was never true” works for the British whom I think in these morbid, latter years I now favour over the Yanks. The Spanish remain my favourites along with the Portuguese and the Italians. Here’s the thing – they are great soccer players. And that my friend, in a sea of turmoil is what counts. A man who can pass a ball to your feet when you are in the goal mouth is worth ten who can build a nuclear shield. Nuclear shield! Are they out of their minds?
What in the world is happening with your writing? Nothing here, other than the weekly whining in the local press about this, or that, and from time to time, the other. Do you wonder as I sometimes do about the words which flowed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s from our, as I see it today, rather naïve pens. Seemed futile then, but of course the result was grand. Did we help in some small way to free Mandela, and if so can we now hold ourselves responsible for every murder or rape in the name of progress?
How would the Nationalists have dealt with HIV? The Afrikaaner seems well-settled here in Canada, but he still gets together at every opportunity with his mates and has a braaivleis, n’ borrel wyn and mulls over his glory days in the Platteland.
A truly adaptable nation, the Afrikaaner now wanders the capitals of the West searching for the next place to circle the wagons. We even have kids here in Maple Ridge who speak Afrikaans in the supermarket. For me I miss the Bantu nation. I miss the wisdom in the eyes of the old longshoremen and stevedores down in Cape Town dock. I miss the high-pitched greetings of the Malay vendors on Green Market Square and I miss the heat hanging over Table Bay on still summers’ mornings. There is the smell of last night’s liquor still lingering in the dank air of the Café Royal at opening time. There is the double Vodka on the dark counter, waiting for Nico Verboom to swish it back with his long sculpted hand. And the eye-wrenching brightness of sun bouncing off the walls from the Cape Times building across Church Street. And, of course, there is the throbbing pain of a hangover soon to be quelled by the first pint of Lion Lager.
Poetry, thank God, does not (at least for me) require the act of writing. A poet simply is. No need to prove to the physical world by means of written demonstration that thoughts or images exist in any structured form behind these bemused eyes.
Naughty though it may be to reminisce I am afraid that most of my days are spent in the past. The past clearly holds more than the future – is this age creeping up on us Perseus or am I just saying this for effect? I think the latter – more in keeping. The future lies in the grand statehoods: The Arab State, The European State, The Jewish State, The South and Central American State, The North American State, The China/Asia Brotherhood and the United States of Pacifica (now known as the Pacific Rim).
I hope Canada can separate itself from the North American State and join with the European State. God help us ( I note, with not a little irony) if we are sucked along the path of the religious right. A fate too awful to contemplate. As for the African State? The question is can they survive themselves? You and I will never know.
And so my friend, what next? Hopefully you are coping with those interminable health problems of yours. While I still maintain my rigorous soccer schedule and appear for all intents to be a man-child un-grown and not fettered by fate, there are doubtless flaws in this armour about which I am soon to learn. In the meantime there will always be poets, black cats, rivers and the future to sustain us.
That said, drop me a line old chap.
It would be great to hear from you; and next time I am in London we will for certain come together over a cup of tea and a chat, even though you may be in an urn and I, drinking from another.