Today I can sign at the Kortrijk book fair. Most people pass me by, because they have come to see Leen Dendievel and Ish Ait Hamou. With the latter I would like to visit a bird sanctuary to caulk a starling or two, then drink a strawberry milkshake in a lugubrious seaside town and finally do some melancholy rimming on the roof of a moribund honey factory. Signing is boring, I mean you’re stuck if no readers show up.
Finally I get to sign a book: a young, plump, warm-hearted woman jumps out of her wheelchair with my latest book. Did I cure her? Am I Jesus?
What is striking is that a large number of female book fair visitors have beards and a purple backpack with magnificent Kevin Ayers badges on them. Most of the male visitors are scrawny frustrated pup-like creatures who look at me with undisguised disdain.
My only male fan is a flamboyant shiny horny windy warty terminal Breton oar tycoon. He wants to donate to me his sextants, souvenir pencils from Helsinki, trampolines, kitchen timers, funnels, doublets worn by Jules Verne and cockatoos. But the old admonishing tyrannical misogynist crossbowman throws a spanner in the works. He shouts: ‘Delphine is an ascetic witch, you cannot charm her with exotic birds, nautical knick-knacks and other junk. So hurry up!’
My masterpiece ‘Who killed Delphine Lecompte?’ lies between a coffee table book about the Zillion and a book with Eva Mouton’s cute pseudo-suspectless droll naive non-committal drawings that make me gag.
After the book fair ordeal, I go to see the former truck driver. We watch the great program ‘Pawn Stars’ together. Suddenly none other than Bob Dylan appears on the television screen, lounging in Las Vegas! He is friendly and approachable! He behaves like an ordinary mortal with an unappetizing pancreas, ugly knees, unwanted urine loss, fungal nails, a grotesque bulging navel and an anus from which sticky feces with a pungent odor spray almost every day. But he is no ordinary mortal, as he wrote ‘Desolation Row’, ‘Thunder on the Mountain’, ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Shelter from the Storm’.
I ask the former truck driver: ‘Would you like to go to the cinema with me?’
The tenderly worn ex-trucker says with atypical enthusiasm: ‘I’d love to! What films do they show?’ I answer: ‘We have a choice between ‘Fallen Leaves’ by my Finnish idol Aki Kaurismäki and ‘It melts’ by Veerle Baetens who was tough, loved Motown and had a beautiful rabbit in Code 37.’ “It’s melting, of course!” ‘Naturally. Yet ‘Fallen Leaves’ deals with losers like you and me: battered, defeated, deprived, defenseless, lonely and maligned.’ But the former truck driver says: ‘I would rather see a film about people who are far removed from my world: eighteenth-century suicidal pufferfish filleters with dwarfism or anemic butlers who yearn for sadistic grooms in Victorian Torquay. Or a film about much-troubled polar explorers, such as ‘It’s melting’.’ I fool the former truck driver and say: ‘Polar explorers, yes. Polar explorers are always fascinating and crazy.’ The tender, worn-out ex-trucker puts a Bad Company cap on his head and I put on a warm sweater from Ten Years After. We look grim, suspicious, disappointed and unsavory. And we are. The former truck driver enjoys the movie, I don’t.
Back home I receive an email from the legendary Amsterdam student magazine Propria Cures, asking if I would like to write six insane satirical obscene perverse texts for them. ‘The fee is 0 euros, but you follow in Slauerhoff’s footsteps.’ Then I also have to contend with a silly, naughty, simple button seller from Tienen who calls me and demands that I write an opinion piece about Sinterklaas. She thinks he is no longer acceptable since ‘Godforsaken’. However, I love saints, especially those who suffered a horrible martyrdom and were immortalized by Guido Reni. Even today, saints still walk among us: Wim Wenders, Noam Chomsky, Ozzy Osbourne, my mother, Rihanna, Stijn Meuris and Michel Vandenbosch.
God is no longer popular, yet he is still talked about every day and artists never completely let go of him. My favorite poet Hans Faverey wrote about God: ‘If God has abolished himself, what is the point of this preoccupation with what no longer needs to be remembered.’