Thursday, 29 October 2009

In the preface to the second edition of De L’Amour, Marie-Henrie Beyle (who presumably opted for the pseudonym Stendhal as he was terribly embarrassed about having a girl’s name) confesses to having written for what he imagined to be a reading public of about 100 people, or as he called them, the happy few. Now with over two hundred people accidentally stumbling across this blog whilst looking for or, I realise I am, compared to ol’ Marie Stendhal at least, something of a Dan Brown or even a Tony Parsons. This makes me very happy, but as former buccaneering, moustachioed Manchester City left back Neil “Dissa” Pointin once said, with great power comes great responsibility, and as a result I feel under tremendous pressure to entertain my vast readership. Which I won’t be able to, of course. So bollox to it – more of the same old same old coming up, probably. (And no, of course I haven’t read the preface to the second edition of De L’Amour. But an excellent trick for those wishing to appear more intelligent than they actually are is to read at least one clever book, in this case Machado De Assis’s Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, and especially the introduction or footnotes. These will undoubtedly have been written by a literary critic or if not An Intelligent And Well Read Person, who will probably have chucked in as many references to other clever books as he can possibly think of. All that remains is for the astute reader to refer to these clever books in a way that suggests he has read them many times and knows them intimately, and that frankly he is rather surprised that the person he is speaking to has not).

Speaking of Machado De Assis, all this self-deprecating irony aimed at the size of one’s readership is in itself very machadean (in a way that is right up there with the moment when possibly gin or at least coffee soaked presenter of Channel 5 (UK)’s very late night baseball programme, Tommy Boyd, informed the viewing tens that he wasn’t going to apologise for accidental on-air profanity as “there was no-one bloody watching anyway”). In fact all that I really need to do is write a bit more about fim de siecle or at least start of siecle Brazilian social mores, bung in a bit more post modern intertextuality (and jokes), and in a hundred years someone might well refer to this blog as a tour de force of surprising modernity.

But for now only day-to-day infamy and pleasant tedium remain, so today’s story is basically What I Did At The Weekend (In Which The Argument And I Meet A Famous Person). I’m bored, a little, of calling The Fanautico, um, The Fanautico, so from now on I’m going to call her The Argument. Not that we argue a lot, The Argument and I, but still. We argue sometimes, like most young (arf arf) folk, and anyway it makes me laugh to call her The Argument. What her opinion is on the subject is I have yet to inquire.

So anyway. We have quite the weekend, The Argument and I. On Friday we meet in hustling bustling rockin’ and rollin’ downtown Recife, and the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Rain feels to me now a bit like what the world was like before all this new fangled technology we have now (the internet, mobile phones, cars etc.) – something I can kind of remember but only in a very hazy way. We have a cheap and cheerful lunch in the garden of a nice little self-service restaurant just off Conde Da Boa Vista, and then start gustily slurping down the palavras - The Argument is not a professional drinker such as I, but she has her moments. We keep on necking palavras until the shadows stretch all the way down the block and the streets fill with people on their way home from work and then we go to Cais De Santa Rita, where we meet my good friend Suicidal of Jordão. Raul Seixas plays on the stereo, we suck on maybe the best caldinhos in Recife and continue on the palavras. At about nine The Argument goes off to meet her friends in Recife Antigo for more palavras and dancing fun. Not always being one for dancing fun I decide to call it a night, and I and SoJ head tipsily home to our respective casas.

Saturday sees the same motley threesome lolling on the beach at Calhetas. It is the first time SoJ has been to Calhetas or any of the beaches on the litoral sul. SoJ is 30 and lives around 20 minutes drive from such beaches. But he is SoJ, so. The white tipped surf crashes on the beach, the sun twinkles through the palm trees, the sky is an aching blue, we order mountains of food and palavras and wiggle our toes in the sand. What do you think, I ask SoJ. S’alright, he says. Only when I see something like this really I just think about what’s missing in my life. How it could have been different. This is how it usually goes with SoJ these days. Try whistling a happy tune, I say, you might feel better.

On Sunday afternoon I ease the aching sadness in my heart and take in Santa’s game in the semi-professional Copa Pernambuco, and in a way it’s nice to sit in the half empty stands and actually concentrate on the game, rather than get caught up the sound and fury of grander days. And Santa – woo frickin´hoo – win 5-0!!!

And! On Sunday night I propose to The Argument that we go out. We try up on the hill but the Alta Da Sé is chock full of teenage boys with their shirts off and teenage girls who might not have even had a shirt in the first place and cars with stereo systems the size of Ecuador and the nice bars are already battening down the hatches. So we wander around a bit and end up in a gringo-ish bar down near the Praça Do Carmo. Which is all well and good – a bit pricier than say, the Beco Da Fome, but finely chilled palavras and a gentler air. So we sit and we drink and we eat and we feel fine and then at about 11pm a smallish young man comes in with a rangier, slightly awry looking companion and two middle aged women. It’s Matheus Nachtergaele!, whispers The Argument. And it is – maybe Brazil’s bestest actor and star turn of my favourite film ever, Amarelo Manga, which along with Taxi Driver might be the most perfect recapturing of the wrecked soul of a city (Recife – where else?) that I’ve seen. For those in the market for the recapturing of the soul of a very non-wrecked city, of course, there’s also London with Notting Hill and Love Actually. Thereby proving the adage (and I think it was Dissa´s Salford Rottweiler successor I´ve lost that Terry Phelan, Bring back that Terry Phelan that said it) that everyone and everything gets the art they deserve.

Anyway. There’s lots of kissy kissy going on with Matheus N and his companion, and the companion is extremely impassioned about something or other and gesticulates wildly with his cigarette. There are hugs and punches on the arm and slaps on the back and almost a bit of a fight and it all looks a bit like the kind of you’remybestmateyouare drunken epiphanies with wearysome friends that I have come to know very well myself. I hear the word fucking genius mentioned a few times, and also the name Claudio. Claudio! So the companion (who is dressed a bit like one of the Beastie Boys, with golf trousers and red Converse trainers – not a common look in Recife) can only be Claudio Assis, director of Amarelo Manga!

The Argument and I are by now terribly excited. I’m terribly excited, I say to The Argument. So am I, says The Argument. Still we are elegant young (ho, ho) people, so we don’t look directly at Matheus and Claudio, instead fixing our attention on the intrictate flower patterning of our table cloth and talking about other things - what are the women’s bogs like? Alright. What about the men’s? They’re alright too. Toilet wouldn’t flush though. Oh. And all the time tremendous high jinks at the next table, where food arrives by the truckload and whiskey flows like water. At one point I think Claudio Assis is a little sick on his shoes. Though we’ve all been a little sick on our shoes at one time or another, I suppose.

Anyway, eventually The Argument and I can stretch it out no longer. We pay our bill and wander past the grown-ups table. And I can’t contain myself! Sorry, I say, knees trembling a bit, I don’t mean to bother you. Claudio Assis belches and lurches to his feet. Come on Claudio, says one of the middle-aged women, and escorts him staggeringly away, to where – a taxi, a gutter, her generously bosomed charms – only they know. Matheus N smiles nervously. No problem, he says, looking around for the waiter. Or security. Um, I, um, I really admire your work, I say. And I want to leave it at that. I really do. But I can’t. I love you! Fucking Amarelo fucking Manga! Jesus! I think I punch the air. Matheus N smiles and grips his cutlery tightly. You just missed the director, he says. I know, I say, and I want to tell him about the events of entry dated 2nd May 2008, when I gave a copy of Your Life Is An Impossibility to a grizzled old farmer who promised he would deliver it to Claudio, who was supposedly working in an artist’s commune on grizzled old farmer’s, um, farm. But I don’t (thank Christ). The Argument, at least, retains some sense of propriety. What are you doing in Recife? she asks him. Making another film with Claudio. About a poet. John The Rat. (I think – things were getting a bit hazy by this time). The Argument loses her sense of propriety completely. He’s a writer! she squeals, pointing at me. I smile. Like a gimp. Matheus N smiles back. No-one seems to have much to say. We apologise again, just for politeness, and say good luck and good bye. At the door we turn and wave. Matheus N waves too. He didn’t hate us! I say to The Argument. I am exultant! Not to be hated by a person I admire! I look down at The Argument. She is walking-sleeping, her head nestled in the crook of my arm.


e.o. said...

Was this the Xinxim? He (Matheus N) has been hanging out at the Pitombeira too.

James Young said...

No - Blues Bar, which wasn´t half as bad as Id expected.