The Comedians and I.

In the summer of 1980, after having visited friends of my parents in New York and San Francisco, my mother and I sent my father back off to Europe and continued our journey to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where we stayed at the Grand Hotel Oloffson, a 19th-century Gothic gingerbread mansion, set in a lush tropical garden, a place once described as the darling of the theatre people, the literary set and newspaper men. And a literary place it was indeed. The moment we sat down on the Hotel’s beautiful porch to have a cold drink, we were directly transported into a novel, all of a sudden we were part of the set of Graham Greene’s The Comedians. None other than Petit Pierre approached us, ever so elegantly, just like in the book, wearing a fine double-breasted suit despite the Caribbean summer heat, his perfectly knotted tie seemed to be mocking the indolent temperatures, a walking cane with a silver knob gave him even more grandezza, as he strutted from table to table, looking for some material for his columns. Of course it was not Petit Pierre, but Aubelin Jolicœur, so my mother explained to me, as I at the age of 12 was not that familiar with Graham Greene’s work, the Haitian journalist and columnist that was the inspiration for Graham Greene’s character who then took a place at our table, started chatting with my mother, even flirting a little bit, totally ignoring me, leaving me to sip my icy lemonades for ever and ever. And so, before he took us to his gallery with Haitian naive paintings, in a black limousine steered by one of his sons, I started to write one of the hotel postcards to my best friend Daniel in Luxembourg. For some reasons, I never sent it off but took it home with me, as a souvenir maybe, just like my mother took one of the ashtrays. Looking at it now, it makes me smile that while somebody taken out of a famous novel was sitting at my very table, I had no other things to tell him about than the beautiful hotel pool and its cool water. But I can somehow get my 12-year-old me – the pool situation was gorgeous indeed. I must return soon, this time with the book…

Swiss and red.

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I have always had a thing for anything red and everything Swiss. It started with my best friend’s passport when I was eight or so, his was a real one, it was red and Swiss, mine was nothing but a greenish leaflet and German. So second grade was when the obsession started. Many years later, out of school and university, I ordered this lowboard at the Hamburg USM flagship store. Red and Swiss at the same time. I still had a German passport, but the at least the new EU ones are kind of red now, crimson or whatever you call it, oxblood or so, I couldn’t say, I’m the HKS 13 kind of guy, Coke can red, anyway, that sideboard was red, they call it ruby red by the way, and Swiss and now I was finally happy. Happy until I had to travel to New York, an incident that made me put my (black) Mandarina Duck suitcase on my beloved lowboard as I thought it would be easier to pack at 50 cm above sea level, which it actually was, perfect packing height, but hell, what a big mistake anyway, huge, that suitcase left marks, scars even, scratch marks all over the surface, what had once been shiny and new looked matte and rotten now, I couldn’t take it in, I had the scratching effect of my suitcase tested on my skin, to hell with Mandarina Duck, but no, no scratch marks there, not even on my face, my skin stayed completely unmarked, it didn’t even turn red, so no to hell with Mandarina Duck, I thought, but to hell with USM Haller! Swiss quality? What a joke. As long as you don’t touch it maybe. Which I then tried not to. I moved the lowboard to Zurich and when I left Zurich, I gave it away, for a buck and a half, it’s like selling diamonds when you have to, worst deal ever, leaves you with a tip, but apart from the fact that it weighs a ton and that you have to have somebody over to adjust its feet when you dare to move it, I had grown tired of its fake quality appeal. That plane by the way, Swiss and red, fell off a carton while packing, it broke its wing, well, what can I say, I won’t give up, but until I find anything better, I’ll stick to Frigor chocolate. It’s Swiss and red, too.

Lunch break at Prada’s.

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We met in late summer 2001. I was a copywriter at D’Arcy in Hamburg, an advertising agency from New York, operating worldwide, or in my particular case, a network operating in Hamburg, Germany. It no longer exists, it was shut down in 2002, but in the 1960s it was still famous enough to be named in Mad Men, one of my favourite tv shows, as competition to Sterling Cooper’s genius Don Draper, I instantly sat a bit more elevated on my couch as it made me feel like playing a part in Mad Men, an exciting opposing part rather than a boring supporting one, I might add. Anyway, I digress, D’Arcy’s Hamburg office was close to Prada’s Hamburg store, and in a lunch break during that late summer I saw her, meaning my jacket, in their windows, having their autumn-winter collection 2001/2002 on display. It was love at first sight. The grey wool, the simple cut, a bit military, no chichi, just plain simple rigour, very high waist, nothing for people whose kidneys can’t bear the cold, a bit haute couture, it looked so perfectly put together, so very much like important tailoring, I purchased it this very lunch break in 2001 and I am still wearing it. Sadly, spring is here, temperatures have already risen, and we now must part for another spring and summer. Hopefully, we’ll enjoy an early autumn.

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What to wear in bed.

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I’m very good at sleeping. I can sleep for 12 hours straight. Or even more. But apart from my bed linen I don’t place much value on the way I Iook in bed. A t-shirt and boxers, that’s it. Sometimes the colours don’t even match. I blame my mother for that.

You see, in 1980, I was 12 at the time, my parents and I travelled to the United States to visit friends in New York and San Francisco, and as it was quite a hot summer we spent a lot of time in all kinds of air conditioned places, department stores being on top of that list. Saks on 5th Avenue has many floors but I remember only one, the one with a man’s nightgown by Christian Dior. Out of day and time, yet on display for me. It was hanging there on its hanger, white with thin grey stripes and looked like it belonged to a young English gentleman, Edwardian on top of that. I was deeply attracted to young Edwardian Englishmen at the time as I had just discovered Saki’s stories. I was pretty sure Bertie van Than and Reginald would wear exactly this nightshirt. And its being by Christian Dior was the icing on the cake. But iced or not, I didn’t get that cake. For some odd reasons, I couldn’t convince my mother that I needed this nightshirt. I never recovered from that denial. I am traumatized. This explains my complete désintéressement as far as looking good in bed is concerned. We look best naked anyway. My cat is proof of that.