Writers are different to other humans. They live in their heads. They are complicated and tender souls. They shun domestic life and stay at the outskirts of society. They are not like the rest of us mortals.
Peirene is adamant in her rejection of this assumption. And she should know, not least because she has met many writers. After all the poets of Greece used to queue up to drink from her water fountain.
“Those poets who came to drink the water weren’t any good,” she likes to remind me every now and again.
“I guess that’s why they came to you.” I once ventured to suggest. “They were looking for inspiration.”
“They wasted their time. I was a common nymph who turned into a common fountain. The good ones never came to me. They knew that society not sources give inspiration.”
Last Saturday, author No 5, Jan van Mersbergen, arrived at our doorstep. Bookstock had invited him for their literary evening in Central London. The fantastic Dutch Foundation for Literature was so kind to pay for his travel. On Saturday afternoon Maddy took Jan to meet a reading group at the Hornsey Library and in the evening the three of us with the Nymph in tow headed to the Bookstock event.
Peirene had already taken a shine to Jan a few months ago when she discovered his profile on twitter and facebook. She immediately appreciated his interactive approach with modern social media. When I told her that he has two children and does a fair amount of child care, her eyes lit up. A man to her liking – clearly not living in a lonely cave.
“That’s why his characters and dialogues are so great. The writer knows what he’s talking about,” she said with a gleam in her eyes. However, by the time we arrived at the Blue Posts in Fitzrovia she had become nervous.
“He’s foreign, he’s never read a text in English in public before and now he will have to entertain an audience for 20 minutes. This is going to be a disaster, “she whispered into my ears. Her heart sank even further when the first author came on stage. English writer Stuart Evers gave a wonderful performance - well prepared, clever and funny with a good sense of timing. Peirene became so nervous, she decided to order herself a large Gin and Tonic.
To cut a long story short. Stuart and Jan were the stars of the evening. Jan‘s 20 minutes at the mike were equally brilliant and professional. He made the audience laugh, read beautifully and held everybody’s attention right to the end. A performer capable of connecting with his audience. The Nymph bought him a pint of beer and herself another G&T to celebrate.
By the time we got home she was tipsy and became a bit cheeky to me: “Shame about his UK publisher though,” she announced with a little wicked smile around her mouth. “You had one task this evening. And that was to film his performance.” “So I did,” I replied defensively. “Yes, but it’s poorly lit. You could have done better.” I sent her straight to bed.