26 January 2013


Very sad post. My 'Rosebud'. Just came across it on a shelf.
Of course I'd come across it over the past eight years but the significancew hadn't set in.

  • When in February 2006 it was decided that it would be a 'good thing' if I packed up my home in WA state and joined my in Corfu as caregiver, I was slightly elated as well as dreading leaving my family.
    Of course I looked forward to living in the Corfu weather but I also looked forward to being of some use, of learning a new language, of ... so many things.This was the phrase book I picked up at a local Bainbridge bookshop and started trying to acquire the basics - too eager and excited, of course.Look - my Madison Avenue address ... apartment 9. How my girls and I stood and hugged in tears, that March 13 day, as Dave waited to drive me away to Seatac airport - and yet still I felt deep inside an excitement at the new life and new triumph I was going to.I look at the cover as I did so many times those happy years ago, innocent years: the man reassuringly mature, guiding the attractive visitor, pointing out a landmark.Nostos Hotel - is nostos a word or a name?Look, written in the inside cover, 'drobi', anticipating my shame at not knowing more Greek - me coming from such distinguished ex-pat roots but with so little of the language.Back to the man ~ mature but fit - see how little paunch he has; I must exercise hard to look shapely for summer.In London, on buses and in burger bars, poring over the phrase-book.
    I feel tears welling. I have a posh lunch and am wearing a suitable disguise as if I too am posh and relaxed - but I will give myself away with my red-eyed post-tears crumpled features. It's not just a question of taking a damp flannel ...Après nosh ... So, where was I? Not as red-eyed as expected, but I look at that phrase-book and I suddenly feel the transmission of those hopes and good intentions and ... and the unsuspecting vulnerability and my sheer sitting duckiness. The thieving, the lying, the being used and so casually ab-used. The worst bit is the persistent trusting. Oh to be one of Life's instinctive adult survivors. Nothing dramatic or mockworthy:
    "Oh aye, what's that up there, then? Bloody hell ... all my cufflinks 'n' all ... hey-ho, can't trust any one these days. [plod upstairs] Right, what's the meaning of this - I'll take whatever tone I want, thanks very much ... then you can take your turn of tone ... these, what the fuck are they doing downstairs? ... nah, you can keep your excuses: here's the deal, I'm going back to Corfu first so, first thing, I'll look up some local caregivers and costs, cash in enough shares to pay for the first three months, then both thieves on your own, sort out if you want to keep the carer or try others ... anyway, they say no-one can take more than six months ... I'll be out of the thievery, can't hack it, wouldnt know how to ... back to London, I'll miss the weather but nothing else, not the gardenry nonsense, certainly not all the dementia repeatia, nothing.
    I look at you lot and I feel all moral authority drain ... that's enough for me. Good riddance."
    I look at the Nostos Hotel and the man and the chick and they represent an aeon ago. Where did it go, where did the trusting dreaming Me go? Slowly hacked down, bit by emotional bit, everything stolen, not just jewels and heirlooms: manners, confidence, safety, respect ... everything everything ... until sitting here huddled under a blanket, no heating ... Rosebud, indeed. I can look at the book and open it, but I can't risk the memories coming thru again. I must send this to my girls. After the theft and when my mother taunted me one time (of many) about the money and pension and everything ending bang on the moment when she kicked the bucket, I told her I was fully aware of my sacrifice and duty and lack of reward, I also reminded her that it wasnt just the rug being pulled from under me, there was also the loss of the only possessions in the whole property of any sentimental or emotional meaning or importance. Snorts and shouts, indignation, lèse-majesté ...
    SELF-REFERENTIAL ROSYBUDNESS ~ Another lasting icon with fond memories.This is the page vii Foreword to the Hesperus Press edition of Edith Wharton's 'Touchstone' by clever Salley Vickers.My personal jewels had been removed behind my back by my mother and handed over to my brother and neither felt like answering to the disgrace, and I lacked words to sum up the theft.Then I came across Ms Vickers' wonderful description of 'self-referential obtuseness' and introduced them to it as 'nailing them bang to rights.'Of course, once the description of 'self-referential' was known and in the open, everything else fell into place; never mind the obtuseness, that comes with the attitude and is a sine qua non for such circles. Someone gave me a helpful reference at one dinner conversation about the thievery: Salley Vickers' coming up with the 'self-referential' key echoed Wittgenstein's maxim that if the problem cannot be put into words, neither can the answer; the problem does not exist. Ever after that, when describing or explaining the family's penchant for filchery, I was able to cut to the chase by referrring to the thieves' self-referentiality.
    Linkbud - another touching moment recently. This photo of one of my cufflinks must have been taken at my digs on Bainbridge Island, WA, on one of my girls' visits before my March 2006 departure for London and eventual arrival on Corfu on April 13 2006 and loss of all personal treasures on April 7th, 2007.Anna came across it the other day and sent it over in great excitement as if she had found the real thing having rolled under the sofa or in the hopes that it would bring me some comfort.What I ask myself is, why should either of my daughters be pleased with a photograph - named, as they are, in my Will as beneficiaries and recipients of my carefully divided treasures? Why should they be feeling like clever puppies who have retrieved a tossed stick? I always admired a friend's description of the theft as a 'piece of work' - it tied together a rather natty post and seemed most easily understood by the thieves when we did a recap.


    Simon Baddeley said...

    The term self-referential. Good to revisit that. I have an image of one of Leggotels that blight the shore of Corfu, one especial monster looks out over Paleocastritsa, another one a point in the shore at Dassia, one at Nisaki. If you are inside them they offer magnificent prospects. If you are outside any of them your view is harmed, your pleasure in the panorama denied, and I at any rate ponder Betjeman’s line ‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’. A self-referential person, like these buildings, enjoys their surroundings, oblivious of the impression they impose on all around them. “His eyes made contact with mine and I realised that he was gazing down at me from the balcony of a vast and hideous building sat astride a landscape he’d no intention of sharing with me on any but his own terms – but that ‘his terms’ were for him the world” His world was the world, and I could only have any sort of exchange with him after I had entered it, accepted its terms and conditions. There was no law or moral code that for him existed outside that grisly structure. This was a persona that like a dying sun had contracted from a red dwarf into a minuscule sphere of immense density, its malign gravity sucking even light into its orbit. Any object, any other person or idea unfortunate enough to be caught in its vicinity was fated to be drawn into its self-referential vortex. The preacher wrote ‘in the beginning was the word’ then ‘light’, for the self referential the end is darkness and insistence on having the last word. A man who dealt in madness once said that the sane are always at the mercy of he insane, because sanity in its nature harbours doubt, reservations, the possibility of ambiguity, while the insane lodged in the security of circular logic have an answer for everything that threatens the well-defended refuge in which they have found security.

    Corfucius said...

    superb comment and further education for me. thanks. i must add this to the bank of data on the theft and general culture in which i lived.