Business Genius

I moved to Denmark from the UK, this is my blog.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My friend

I had a friend once. He was more than just an acquaintance or a mate you chat to in the pub, we had a genuine connection. We bonded over books. We worked together at a clothes shop, an occupation which left plenty of free time for poring over literature. We discovered authors like John Fante, Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, Nelson Algren and Knut Hamsun together. On the day a second-hand bookstall opened in one of our town's antique centres, it was he who had the early lunchbreak and he hurried down there to check out the stock. I was disappointed because I knew he would cherry-pick the best stuff. He returned laden with books and was glowing with excitement as he had found the ultimate book-seller - someone with exactly the same taste as us. My lunch came and I ventured down there, returning with several books. But I could have bought dozens. The guy's surname was Parrot and asking whether we had 'been down to Parrot's lately' became a fixture in our conversation. By now we were getting even more leftfield. We'd gone through a Celine phase, discovered the Calder imprint, turned left at Marguerite Duras and gone round the Blaise Cendrars roundabout. But then we diverged. He went esoteric for a while with Madame Blavatsky and G.I Gurdjieff and I stayed Stateside with Raymond Carver, Carlos Williams, Dos Passos and William Bronk - a little-known poet whose book I found stumbling round a bookshop somewhere in Bloomsbury, half pissed. The chronology of events is a little hazy. He had moved in with a woman we both worked with and had a daughter. They had a lovely house. My girlfriend and I visited occasionally. They were older than us but we were good friends. I went round as often as I could on my trips home from university and we always found time to chat about books. My friend had another passion in his life - underground soul and disco music. He made me several tapes, most of which I have since mislaid, and it was a always a privilege to hear him talk about that side of his life. He and a friend started out on a buiness venture which took them to America in search of vast stockpiles of records. They were beginning to make money too but my friend had quite a fractious personality and I think they went their seperate ways after just a few record-buying trips. So volatile was he that he once threw a remote control at my head when I teased him about some trivial matter. It embedded in the wall about a millimetre away from my head. But I wasn't unduly worried. We had often talked about the extremes of personality; we tried to distance ourselves from the petty concerns of others. We were literate and almost intellectual, so we believed. Blind rage was acceptable to us, a symptom as it was of a world which sought to stultify its inhabitants and shield them from too brazen a reckoning with reality. Such connections are rare. His relationship broke down and soon after he moved out of the house. We continued to be friends for a time but our meetings were increasingly irregular. He left the clothes shop and went to work at the Early Learning Centre. He was made manager. And then he was relocated to Wood Green and our meetings ceased almost entirely. I learned some unpleasant facts about the relationship from his former partner. Things between us were not the same. It's hard to pinpoint when we last spoke. Our mobile numbers changed, a connection was briefly re-established but then it too was severed and I have no idea where he is or what he is doing. I'm not sure why I am thinking of him today. Maybe it's being back home. The old sadness fnds its way to the surface a little easier. We railed together against conformity but the price he paid for his individualism was a high one. I suppose I am afraid of paying a similar toll.


At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Pies said...

nice piece

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Pies said...

Right. Blog cherry popped. Apart from a couple of early April bits (reading was interupted by pub-o-clock) I am pretty much up to date. It's taken me very pleasantly though the last hour of my working week. I will be returning for some more.

Mate, your stuff is a real pleasure to read, and a substitute for the read thing, which I miss.

Try and give me a bell when you're next back. Have agreat w/e.


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