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Go and Play Tennis!29 June 2011 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
I think I am just a normal guy but many people may well consider me rather crazy. Let me give you a few examples.
Ordinary people acquire possessions during their lives but I have never got round to it. Not because I am against having possessions, but I have always considered investing in myself more important and that things will sort themselves out somehow.
In the meantime I have gained thirty kilos, I am the last person renting in my block of flats (the rest are owners) and when I look at my bank account I am reminded of Greek government bonds.
Recently my sister complained, ‘you’re turning off all the taps much too tightly’. That is because at home I have to turn the taps off tightly to prevent them dripping. I have two left hands, so I can’t repair taps.
But what is much worse is that you need to call a ‘man to fix it’. Then this ‘man to fix it’ leaves as soon as he has arrived because this is a ‘very special tap’, one he hasn’t come across for ages. Therefore he has to buy special parts and with a ‘man to fix it’ in your home you have lost your privacy for the rest of the day.
In any case I hate having visitors; I’m afraid they will inspect my desk and ask, ‘What are you writing?’
The other day I was sitting in a pub with a lovely lady; it looked promising but I heard myself say, ‘I never receive visitors.’ Followed by – why not – ‘And I very rarely visit people.’ Come on, I thought, I’ll follow it up with the anecdote about the taps. I stopped short of mentioning that due to lack of refurbishment there are just four lights left, but the opportunity had gone.
I think next time I should say that I never invite visitors round but I am going to make an exception. It’s more likely, though, that I will tell the story of the door handle, broken since 1989. When my mother announces she is coming to visit I need a week to clear up. (Never mention your mother on a first date.)
Without any visitors, though, you can watch Wimbledon uninterrupted all day. This catches my eye: Roger Federer may look like the little boy in class who bursts into tears when you just point at him, but he has a lovely girlfriend.
According to the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, for the past hundred years we have been living in the ‘Era of the Athlete’. He views it as rounding off the Renaissance. In antiquity athletes were certainly very popular.
Yet why can’t I recall any athletes from ancient times? Texts, buildings and ideas last much longer than athletes and of course they knew that back then.
Suddenly this reminds me of the famous Monty Python sketch: ‘The Philosophers’ Football Match’, in which a Greek team plays against a German side; with among others John Cleese as Archimedes, Eric Idle as Socrates, Michael Palin as Nietzsche, Terry Jones as Marx and Franz Beckenbauer as Franz Beckenbauer.
Of course I know today’s athletes. Recently I wondered: how did Andy Murray get his beautiful girlfriend? Well, naturally, because his bank account isn’t made up of Greek government bonds and he may well be a very nice boy.
So there is hope. Have you seen Sharapova’s boyfriend? He looks a bit boring but, if I was him, I too would accept grunting as part of the bargain. Well, Sharapova’s boyfriend is apparently very rich, but even so.
We may well live in the Era of the Athlete but those who write will abide. Still, I don’t clench my fist after producing a gorgeous line of poetry. I only rarely grunt when putting pen to paper. I am perfectly normal, and if you disagree I advise you to ‘Go and play tennis!’
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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