Oda Ružnoći Gradova

Neki putnik-bloger koji je sebi nadjenuo nadimak Kornjača ogovarao je Podgoricu u svom avgustovskom javljanju iz mog rodnog grada. Dok sam čitala njegove posprdno-ljutite utiske, istovremeno sam ga prezirala i znala da je u pravu. Kako se to Kornjača dofurao u Podgoricu baš 2. avgusta? Nije mogao naći gori datum. Pa naravno da će mu tada ona ličiti na poslednju stanicu pakla, grad bez ljudi, sa smećem prosutim iz kontejnera po užeglom asfaltu i sprženoj travi. Kao da je, ne-daj-Bože, kuga na brzinu prošla gradom, prije Kornjače.

Kornjača piše da ‘Neki gradovi svoju ružnoću i bijedu dobro nose.’ Pretpostavljam da gradovi koji svoju ružnoću i bijedu dobro nose postaju kult-mjesta, poput vječitih buntovnika što, balansirajući na rubu smrti, postaju kult-ličnosti. Ne i Podgorica. ‘Ona je samo ružna, i prazna,’ nastavlja Kornjača, ‘bez urbanog-edgy faktora.’

Priznao je da mu se utisak popravio kad je pala noć i ljudi su izmilili na ulice.

Nije me to utješilo.

Rodila sam se u Titogradu. Niko me nije pitao je li mi, baš u tom trenu, uopšte bilo do dolaska na ovaj svijet; niti imam li posebnih želja u vezi mjesta rođenja. Srećom, dobila sam neobične roditelje. Ostale okolnosti mogu se svrstati u prilično tužnu kategoriju pod nazivom ‘Moglo je i gore’. Da, moja će najranija sjećanja, strahovi i stope zauvijek biti vezani za taj grad i njegove čarobno ružne kutove.

Obilasci spomenika s dedom, na primjer, uz privatne lekcije iz istorije koje se on odlično sjećao, jer bio je njen aktivni učesnik: dok deda priča o bombardovanju, italijanskom zatvoru pored rijeke i pećinama oko Mareze, ja gledam u njegov, kao tek kupljen, uredno sklopljen crni kišobran i pitam se, uvijek to isto pitanje, zašto deda stalno nosi kišobran a kiša nikada ne pada u mom rodnom gradu? Zatim, tetka-Spasina roza popara koja je izluđivala moju baku Draginju, jer uopšte nije bila roza. Bila je to obična, bež popara, koju sam ja za baba-Draginju ‘obojila’ u rozo iz prostog razloga što sam tetka-Spasinu poparu rado jela, a baba-Draginjinu ne. Zato sam jela baba-Draginjin ‘hlebni kolač’, štogod da je bio – nikada to nisam otkrila.

Mnoge sam avguste i ja provela u Podgorici. Podgorički avgustovski dani najsporiji su dani na svijetu. Životarenje u rerni koju je neko zaboravio isključiti. Vazduh nepomičan, sunce peče bez plavetnila, praznina leluja pred očima. Pokretni ventilatori guraju se iz sobe u sobu. Dugo sjeckanje luka, paradajza i paprika, uz muziku Donne Summer, pa zar i ona mora biti Summer? Jedenje salate i sira; odlazak do Lješkopolja po još voća i povrća, i mladog sira koji nam baba-Jelena donosi u gazi; čupkanje suvih zrna grožđa, zaranjanje zuba u kokot šipka, u raspuklu smokvu s hrapavom korom; borba protiv zeleno-crnih glasnih i opakih muva, buljenje u sliku duhova koji mašu iza poluotvorenih vrata dok svi hrču, oboreni sijestom, osim mene i dede koji šeta od kuće do kapije, njišući i dalje kišobranom uz kuk, i ja napokon razumijem da kišobran je bio njegova mirnodopska puška, jer mir neće dugo trajati, znao je to. Ja ne mogu zaspati jer sam zaljubljena – nesrećno zaljubljena: osoba za kojom čeznem nije u rerni od grada, naravno, a ni Mira nije tu, na Cetinje ti je, kaže mi njena majka, a posle će kod Marine u Budvu – i pisala bih tužne pjesme o tome, ali vrelina me parališe, muve me grizu, sva vrata škripe od namjerno izazvane promaje. Uskim putem uz čvornovatu lozu biciklom se odvezem do Liske, gdje sjedim pod košćelom, dok Liska po granama drveta slaže vješalice s tek opranim košuljama njenog oca. Uveče se vratimo u prazni Titograd; nedostaje mi škola, graja, fizičko, miris trikoa, košarkaški treninzi s dječacima iz ‘Maksim Gorki’ zbog kojih se sramim svoje mršavosti, škripa krede po tabli, neiscijeđeni sunđer kojim se ponekad gađamo po učionici, lupanje dnevnikom po katedri, ‘Kadinjača! Kadinjača!’, i ostali recitali čije sam stihove zaboravljala pred roditeljski, plesne grupe u suknjicama od krep-papira, čak i Šuto koji me sačekivao ispred škole i plašio dok mu jednog dana nisam razbila zube daskom pokupljenom s ceste, i onda trčala sve od ‘Sutjeske’ do Lordovke – ali se Šuto više nikada nigdje nije pojavio. Zato – kradem tati HB cigarete, uzimam kutiju šibica, i odlazim do dvorišta ‘Sutjeske’, preskačem nisku ogradu, napravim krug oko škole koja mi se do skora činila tako velikom i novom, i sjednem na stepenik ispred malog betonskog platoa pod prozorom učionice za engleski Radojke Dapčević, gdje sam uvijek bila najsrećnija. Tamo prilično dugo plačem i pušim, uvijek se nađe neki valjan razlog za to, sve dok me ne zaboli glava. Kući me sačeka otac, pogleda me sa smješkom prepoznavanja emocije u očima, kao da se izvinjava što mi nije mogao ponuditi bolje mjesto rođenja. Naravno da je znao da mu kradem cigarete, shvatila sam to kada mi je, mnogo godina kasnije, par sati prije nego što će umrijeti od infarkta, rekao: ‘Ne moraš se kriti, znam da pušiš’. On sam je, najčešće u avgustu, pričao da bi se rado odselio na Novi Zeland; avgust je bio i kada me pratio na put u Kaliforniju, imala sam 17 godina, i rekao mi da će me Amerikanci sigurno pitati o komunizmu, da treba da im objasnim da, ako je komunizam krompir, a kapitalizam jabuka, onda mi u Jugoslaviji imamo neki kalem između krompira i jabuke – neku krombiku. ‘Potapple’, rekla sam. ‘Potapple, na engleskom.’ ‘E, bravo,’ rekao je.

Kornjača-bloger putuje po svijetu, svuda se kratko zadržava, svoje utiske izliva po mreži, a da nije obišao ničija sjećanja. Nezanimljiva mi je ta misija. Jer, ima gradova, kao što je Podgorica, koji se mogu voljeti samo zbog uspomena. Svi znamo egzotična ograničenja koja postavljaju male sredine (‘egzotična’ za one koji ludilo provincije znaju pretvoriti u umjetnost). Neke male sredine ipak mogu oduševiti svojim geografskim položajem: na moru su, ili na moćnoj planini, svježeg zraka, u podnožju sniježnih padina. Podgorica nije ništa od toga. Od nje će nekog blogera u prolazu više zainteresovati Pržno ili Plužine – naročito u avgustu. Cetinje ima impresivnu količinu istorije po metru kvadratnom; Nikšić – dugu listu velikana koji su iz njega lako pobjegli, ne osvrćući se. Sjever Crne Gore ima eko-potencijal, prekrasna izletišta, i dovoljno surovosti za snove o bjekstvu. Iz Podgorice je, uprkos njenoj ne-urbanoj, ne-edgy ružnoći, teško otići; ona nudi topli zagrljaj lijenog utočišta. Ovaj glavni grad zemljice podijeljenog identiteta, u poređenju s ostalim glavnim gradovima u regionu, opet nema ništa posebno da ponudi. Nema beogradsku istoriju avangarde pločnika nekad otvorenog grada, nakon kojega se moglo živjeti samo u Londonu, Parizu ili Njujorku. Nema zagrebački ziher-život, tajanstveni Gvozd, Kaptol i Krvavi most. Nema sarajevsku prepoznatljivu tragiku, inspiraciju za kosmičku suzu iskupljenja. Nema organizaciju Ljubljane, pjesmu i kuhinju Skoplja; čak ni podršku kakvu ima Priština. Da ne idem dalje, ni morem ni kopnom, jer konkurencija postaje sve zahtjevnija. Da, Podgorica se voli zbog sjećanja. Šta Kornjača o tome može znati? Dok ne upoznaš domaće ljude, šta zapravo možeš pisati o nekom gradu? Želiš li ostaviti još jedan zapis u moru opisa Venecije, Dubrovnika, Firence? Ili želiš ispričati priče? Tu je razlika.

Nisam voljela London dok nisam upoznala ljude koji su mi htjeli pričati svoje priče. Do tada, za mene je London bio kazna: odurna klima, ulični brojevi bez logike, naopaki saobraćaj, smrdljiva podzemna, spori autobusi, skupi stanovi osrednjeg ili lošeg kvaliteta, strah od bebisiterki, strah od nepoznatih pedofila (lakše je suočiti se s poznatim pedofilima, aka manijacima), loše verzije engleskog jezika u mojim ušima, sto-i-jedna vrsta kašlja i tjelesnog mirisa u neposrednoj blizini moje jakne koju svi neljubazno guraju jer zauzima mnogo mjesta u gradu natrpanom previše otkrivenim, odbojnim tijelima. I sve ovo još je podnošljivo u dobroj fazi grada, dok se ne zalomi prokleti snijeg, ili štrajk u javnom prijevozu, zbog čega se Londonci pretvaraju u pse iz one kapitalističke fraze o svijetu u kojem ‘pas jede psa.’ Ili Kornjača kornjaču.

Zato, posjetioci-blogeri – ne dirajte mi Podgoricu, ali ni London, ako prethodno niste uronili u živote i priče lokalnog stanovništva. O vašim usputnim destinacijama čitaocima pružite korisne informacije, ili proćaskajte sa zainteresovanima, uz pićence.

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Lara’s theory

I don’t know where else to save the interesting things my children say at the age when they still don’t know that they should be writing them down.

So, here’s something my daughter Lara said last night. She is 9.

She has shared with me her theory on why so many boys go through a phase of being obsessed with dinosaurs.

She thinks it’s how they deal with growing up to become men. They regard dinosaurs as adult-male principles, and they therefore get immense pleasure from being able to turn these roaring male principles into toys they can manage and rule, or into facts that end with the fact that dinosaurs are now extinct.

I love it.

LONDON, beginning (English)

Starting a new life in London, as a parent, requires a lot of physicality. The first year was all about the endurance of my legs, my shoulders and arms. My new life felt like a triathlon practice. At night, my muscles hurt; I had cramps in my calves. I couldn’t stretch properly in bed, because I shared it with both of my children. I needed regular massage, like an athlete, or a ballerina. I was neither; I was only a mother, a nobody, really, yet I was everybody and everything to my children, which was taxing, but left no time for sadness, for thoughts, except for the most basic thoughts of acquiring new facts and tools for survival.

We were living in a service apartment high above the polluted, noisy Sloane Street. Un-rooted we hung in the garage-smelling air pierced by shouts in languages we couldn’t understand, above boutiques and double-deckers stuck in traffic.

‘How do I meet people in London?’ I wondered, switching on the TV, regularly, first thing in the morning. ‘How do I meet the kind of people I want to become friends with?’

According to the morning TV, the government here always issued warnings. Black Ice, for example. Black Ice!!! – in a red triangle, in black letters across the screen, followed by black exclamation marks, yes, plural, yes three of them. I thought that Black Ice was a politically correct, 21st century’s name for Black Death. It was just slippery pavements.

‘Yellow warning for rain!’

‘No, actually, We Are In Drought!’

‘Meningitis C! In London’s parks’ playgrounds!’

But after a true horror, like the attacks of July 7th, everyone was supposed to carry on as normal.

We came to London in 2005 because of my husband’s job. ‘Only one year,’ he said. ‘Maybe a year and a half, possibly two.’

I was still breastfeeding my daughter. My son had just turned 7. Back home he’d only be starting school, but here he was placed in year 3. He didn’t speak any English and had no concept of math except addition and some subtraction, so after his first day of school he told me that, in London, five-times-two wasn’t seven, as I’d taught him, but ten, according to his math teacher. ‘Oh, boy,’ I thought, ‘it’s good we’ll be here only for a year.’

‘Don’t worry about maths,’ I told him. ‘You just learn some English, baby.’

But we’re still here, and it’s 2014. This kind of return-self-delusion probably happens to most people who come to London for only a year, possibly two. How can this city stand it? Because everyone has to obey its rules. As simple as that. The realisation that I only had to obey the rules and nobody would violate my rights kept me going; it made up for the initial lack of friends and babysitters.

I loved the pedestrian crossings where a pedestrian really was the king; I loved the queuing. I loved young English boys with their easily blushing cheeks, broad rowing-team shoulders, and hair neatly combed and parted from left to right. They always let me go first, made way for me, and silently got up from seats in public places, for me.

Apparently, they also liked adventure. And many times, their young lives were ended prematurely because of this love for adventure. Same with young English girls. They were too fearless, foolishly un-paranoid (and not properly dressed for this climate). It seemed that even motherhood couldn’t make them paranoid. I didn’t understand them. They had everything – why risk it? But that was the point.

I, who had come from a country torn apart by the late 20th century civil war and genocide, I hated adventure. Before that war, our childhoods were basking in the warmth of community, true – we were the product of Mediterranean spirit and the hands-on Mother-state – but there was always the sniff of cruelty in the air. Why, even the snowballs that were thrown at us, girls, used to have stones or glass hidden in them. Fortunately, it rarely snowed in my hometown. But, like with animals: everything unusual made our young males go wild. So now, change gives me migraine. I love routine.

I was surprised to find out that people considered me brave for diving into a life where, at first, everything I’d achieved thus far would be erased; and then I’d have to create again, from scratch, in another country, with small children and a mad genius for husband.Image Image

London: Kazuo i ja (hrvatski)

O ‘studiranju’ kreativnog pisanja svatko ima svoje mišljenje, i svi su u pravu. Jedna je činjenica ipak nepobitna: samo na takvom studiju mogla sam, u ovom uzburkanom Londonariumu, sresti sebi srodnu vrstu – amfibiju, razred: vodozemci sa čudnim porivom da pišu literarnu fikciju nakon što završe ‘pravi’ posao, onaj za koji ih netko plaća, ali za kojim im srce ne kuca.

Moje amfibije uglavnom pripadaju gradskom krugu koji izbjegava okupljanja izreklamiranih zvijezda. Oni vole samozatajna događanja o kojima se poslije, uz pint-of-pivo, može diskutirati je li vrijedilo. Jesu li dobili zlatni grumen mudrosti da ga strpaju u džep za biti-ili-ne-biti trenutak?

Preko te grupe ugurala sam se na već popunjeni razgovor u Bloomsburyju sa Kazuom Ishigurom, organiziran u okviru susreta sa dobitnicima Man Booker nagrade za književnost.

Kazuo Ishiguro jedan je od onih srećnika čijem su pisanju kritičari već od njegovog prvog romana pristupili dobronamjerno – i te svoje dobre namjere sa zadovoljstvom potvrdili – a čije su knjige prevođene, kupovane i čitane po cijeloj planeti , pa pretvorene u filmove što su punili kino dvorane i pobirali nagrade: ‘Ostaci dana’, recimo; i noviji ‘Nikad me ne ostavljaj’.

Kasnije sam otkrila zašto je on simpatičan i mojim vodozemcima: dok bez ikakve gestikulacije govori o sebi i svojim knjigama, Mr. Ish (sufiks za neodređenost u engleskom jeziku, a.k.a. Ishigurov omiljeni nadimak) ostaje elegantno nenametljiv kao i kada piše. ‘Nevidljivog autora’ prosječna publika može mnogo duže podnijeti. ‘Nevidljivi autor’ svoje slušatelje, baš kao ni svoje čitatelje, ne napada punokrvnom osobnošću – za razliku od Hilary Mantel ili Howarda Jacobsona (da se zadržim na Bookerovcima). Istim je nenapornim, distanciranim tonom Mr. Ish pobrojao i greške u svojim knjigama, dodavši da ipak ništa ne bi mijenjao za neka nova izdanja jer – tako je razmišljao i pisao u to vrijeme. I on je studirao kreativno pisanje, na East Anglia univerzitetu, davno još, kaže, kada se na to gledalo kao na pomodni uvoz, pokušaj imitacije američke ‘Radionice pisaca’ sa univerziteta u Iowi.

Ish my dish,’ komentirala je Harumi, moja rođena Londonka japanskih korijena. ‘Kazuo je prava banana.’

Bacih pogled na njenu čašu sa pićem. ‘Jesi li sigurna da ti je unutra samo tonik?’ upitah.

‘Nije to ništa uvrijedljivo,’ rekla je. ‘I ja sam banana. Oboje smo izvana Orijentalci, to jest žuti, a iznutra ne sasvim bijeli, ali nešto između.’

Ishiguro, rođeni Japanac, i autor jednog od najbritanskijih romana svih vremena (‘Ostaci dana’), Haruminu je opasku potvrdio i u tijeku kratkog razgovora za koji sam se izborila iznenađujući sebe, ali i gosta večeri, količinom odlučnosti kojom se ustrijemih prema iznenada upražnjenoj stolici pored njega.

I dalje pribran, jednostavan poput svog crnog odijela, naizgled nije mario što mu ni knjigu nisam donijela na potpis.

Rođen 1954. u Japanu, Mr. Ish u Englesku je stigao kao petogodišnjak.

‘Otac je majku i mene doveo ovdje, navodno zbog posla. Radio je za Oceanografski zavod. Samo na dvije godine, obećao nam je, koliko bude trajalo ispitivanje voda Sjevernog mora. Onda je produžio na još dvije, pa još dvije . . . Živjeli smo u Guildfordu, nikada potpuno ne uranjajući u engleski mentalitet i način života. Ostali smo promatrači, iako se, kao obitelj, više nismo vratili u Japan. Svo to vrijeme moj otac, oceanograf, nijedanput nije otišao niti blizu oceanu. To mi je uvijek bilo sumnjivo. Često sam ga htio pitati o tom njegovom čudnom poslu oceanografa bez oceana. Ipak, nisam ga pitao.’

Čini se da su baš takvi ljudi, oni koji se u pravi tren ne usude postaviti pravo pitanje, glavni likovi njegova dva najpoznatija romana: Stevens, batler u ‘Ostacima dana’, i Kathy, pripovjedačica-klon u ‘Nikad me ne ostavljaj’.

‘Da, doista, sada kada to čujem, zvuči kao dobro opažanje. Ipak, nije to bila moja namjera. Svaki roman počinjem kreiranjem likova koji mi se na neki način jave: možda sam ih negdje sreo, ili posudio od samoga sebe iz rada na prethodnoj knjizi. Nakon što svakom liku dam biografiju i glas, organiziram svojevrsnu audiciju za naratora. O tome tko dobije glavnu ulogu, ovise stil, put i tema knjige.’

Oko teme nisam htjela nagađati. ‘Postoji li neka velika tema kojom ste zaokupljeni?’ pitala sam, vjerujući da bi, ako postoji, to bila obrada svojevrsne hipnoze zatvorenih društava koja polagano umrtvljuju svoje pripadnike. I opet bih pogriješila. Odgovor je bio mnogo intimniji.

‘Zaokupljen sam težnjom, svojstvenom samo ljudskim bićima, da damo određenu dozu dostojanstva i smisla onome u čemu smo dobri. Ne mora to biti umjetnost. Stevens je bio dobar batler, Kathy dobra njegovateljica. Oboje su bili ponosni na to, pronašli u tome smisao svog postojanja. Zaokupljen sam i individualnom i kolektivnom memorijom; borbom pojedinaca, ali i cijelih država, da kontroliraju sjećanja.’

‘Hoćete li se u nekoj od sljedećih knjiga, barem sjećanjem, vratiti Japanu?’

‘Nisam vam ja nikakav ekspert za Japan,’ rekao je pisac. ‘Moj je japanski jezik u biti neprikladan, zastario, jer to je jezik moje majke iz doba kada žene, na primjer, nisu koristile zamjenicu ‘ja’. Taj se jezik ‘čuje’ ispod mojeg pisanja na engleskom, i zato je možda čitaocima moj stil interesantan, umirujući. A Japan koji poznam tek je sjećanje na rano djetinjstvo, sačuvano u mojim prvim pričama i romanima.’

Kazuo Ishiguro trenutno piše još jedan scenario. ‘Distopijski,’ kratko ga je opisao.

Scenarije piše kao i romane, prateći konfrontacije likova koji su prošli audiciju kod pisca. ‘Ponekad,’ kaže, ‘priča teče tako dobro da je ne prekidam od početka do kraja i to bude moja prva ruka. Onda se još dva ili tri puta vratim na materijal dok sve ne uglačam, ali ako su likovi dobri, radnja se ne mijenja.’

Nakon ‘Najtužnije muzike na svijetu’ i ‘Bijele kontese’, bit će to njegov treći scenario. Bio je pomalo skeptičan hoće li ovaj zaživjeti.

‘U svijetu filma nikada ne možete biti posve sigurni, jer film ovisi o mnogo kreatorskih ega. Scenarija za filmove po mojim romanima ‘Ostaci dana’ i ‘Nikad me ne napuštaj’ na koncu nisam pisao ja, a spomenut sam kao ‘izvršni producent’. Ni dan-danas ne znam što je uopće posao ‘izvršnog producenta’. Uprkos svemu, vjerujem da je budućnost literature u suradnji sa filmom, sa pravljenjem ozbiljnih filmova što je sada trend u Americi. Također,  dovršavam i novi roman. Početkom sljedeće godine bit će u štampi.’

Izrekao je to sa sjajem u očima, tipičnim za obrtnika ponosnog na svoje umijeće da uvijek iznova daje smisao onome u čemu je dobar.

ImageU znak pozdrava, kratko, bez riječi, naklonismo glave.

Ako je on ‘banana’, koja li sam ja metafora: izvana bjelkasta, iznutra po potrebi – ovoga puta žućkasta?

Na pamet mi pada samo – cigareta… Baš i nije nešto.

Audicija za metafore otvorena do daljnjeg.

In the sun; outside London

L&O on the ferry There should be truth and only truth when one writes in one’s second language; otherwise everything sounds like emails. ‘And who sends emails anymore?’ my son asked me the other day. ‘It’s like sending a fax.’

And when there’s truth in one’s second language, well, then it sounds like a rant.

An email or a rant?

There should be truth, and there has been too much of it. Why did I put my real name on this blog? I’m bound to hurt people this way. Limitations protect humans but hurt the writing.

On the display of my UK mobile number’s phone, 3 days ago, there was a text message: ‘Call your bank without delay!’

It is the beginning of August. I have paid council tax, electricity bill, rent and Sky in advance. Now, call me spoiled, call me an ex-communist state’s protegee, but I am not going to call anyone – let alone anything, as in ‘an institution’ – without delay, in August. And what for? So that a bored employee in a too different a time zone could ask me incomprehensible questions and scare me some more?

No. I say F-O to all that.

I’m on my territory, on my terms. And I realise: I don’t miss the arrogance of London-based institutions. I don’t miss it at all.

In fact, it’s still too early in the summer. Still, when I think of London, I see the room I share with my daughter, who is almost 9. There is a keyboard in that room and she has her piano lessons on that keyboard, which stands on a plastic-top table. She is talented; she’s taught herself ‘Rondo a la Turca’ after watching the film ‘Amadeus’. One hand, but come on. But there’s no room for a piano in that apartment, which we pay an enormous rent for. Also, in my daughter’s school, which we pay an enormous fee for (which they also want in advance), when I mentioned to her music teacher that she spent a lot of time teaching herself music, writing (composing) songs, singing them out loud all day long, the music teacher replied: ‘She quite likes music, doesn’t she?’ And then the music teacher said nothing else.

‘DOESN’T SHE?’

That was not good enough for me.

It’s not good enough for any parent, who feels there’s a potential, a gift, in her child, and reaches out to ask a ‘professional’ for an advice what to do not to screw it all up, but to help it bloom.

When a ‘professional’ says nothing in return, offers nothing – what is there to ask the cheque in advance for?

The smell of lavender calms me down now.

Nowhere is perfect. I don’t ask for perfection. For a long time now, I’ve been asking simply for reality (even in fiction).

There comes a time when priorities start to change. Everything shifts. Countries shift. People get fed up.

I know that Royal Court Theatre will not disappear from Sloane Square; and I tell myself I will always be able to come and stay with my friends, see a show. Ah, the friends! There are about 20 people I could meet nowhere else but in London.

I know that Chelsea Physic Garden will always be there, so well tended for; and that Shoreditch will keep on growing hip.

It’s just that, again, back south, I’ve realised that everyday life with human (as opposed to ‘shark’) face can still exist.

Perhaps the time has come to: look like a 30-year-old, prioritise like a 60-year-old.

No-one ever promised me a sunny spot in the Physic Garden though . . .

London Stories of the South

It’s the title of my new book, which is the collection of my London stories. Obviously.

‘The South’ translates here as in ‘by a South European’. Or: ‘The South-nuanced London stories’. Translations translations.

Fortunately, the title is gripping and completely understandable in all my mothertongues: Montenegrin, Croatian, Serbian & Bosnian.

And I wrote the stories in my first languages.

One day, maybe, it will appear in this tough Anglo-Saxon market; tough because these days an unknown & translated author has to either be a runaway from a huge troubled market (country); or incredibly lucky, wealthy yet free, all over the place and web, an interesting,  young male – to even hope to be published here. But in 10-15 years…When children have grown up and moved out…Watch this space. Or not. But I will still be writing; writing much more in fact.

Anyway, this book is about all things London-related. How I arrived here, froze my butt and bones in my summery dress because it was 7 degrees in June. Now of course I know it’s the normal June temperature.

I wrote about Londoners and me. How I learned to tone down; and when I did they told me they loved my outrageousness.

I wrote about nostalgia, the plus and minuses of it; about how it moves in her mysterious ways and how I learned to switch that companion on or off.

I also wrote about the days when I was a couch potato; then, some exhibitions, some theatre.

I wrote when I was in Love with London; I wrote when I wanted to strangle it (him?); I wrote when we’d break up and come back together again, more passionately than ever.

This book can have huge audience. For any curious 15-100-year-old reader. Especially if, for now, she reads Monte, Cro, Serbo or Bosnian.

I love so many things about this book. I should have it translated, at least into English, I think.

I love the cover.

And the stories between the covers – well, ‘When you don’t know what to write, write one honest sentence,’ apparently Hemingway said this. Well, it defines my London stories.

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No, thanks, a rant ‘borrowed’ from a housewife’s diary

No, thanks, I say.

Once, I hoped that writing would make me the bittiest bit-bit of money, like 100 pounds a month – and it did for a while, for 6 months, maybe, and then it stopped, people stopped paying, even though they still expected lines from me, lines of words to fill their work, the real work.

If a normal person – who is, like me, glad to be alive – stays in a rural retreat for more than two consecutive nights, she WILL lose her mind or become depressed. She will start whispering to ovens. ‘Open Sesame,’ she will say to gas ovens.

No, thanks, I also really don’t want to subscribe to your daily horoscope, because then you think you own me – at least the tone of your writing thinks that it should own my soul – with its Monster Moon phases, its Pluto square Saturn, opposition Mars, Mercury retrograde, 12-year cycles of limitations, and many more aspects that should keep me immovable. I shouldn’t travel, shouldn’t make decisions, or stand up to anyone, especially persons of authority; I shouldn’t let children out of my sight, or else. All in all – not a good time to make changes, the horoscope people say. But, then, it has never been a good time for changes for those who subscribe to horoscopes, ever. I know. Get it?

No, thanks, don’t slowly explain to me why I should accept whatever my children’s schools decided was good for my children. I am not dependant on everyone else’s opinions just because everyone else is lucky enough to go to work and I stay home and am a home-maker.

Which leads me to: No, thanks, don’t call me a homemaker.

You call me a home-maker because you are trying to say that by staying at home I make an income by making it feel like home, and my husband should respect that. You calculated how much money a housewife invisibly earns, and you rebranded us as home-makers. Our husbands should pay us for agreeing to make homes, and maybe you could one day tax us as well.

But I’m a housewife. I am somebody’s wife, and I spend most of the time in a house. And nobody pays me for that.

It is a debilitating life. It’s a major migraine trigger. Still, whenever I, albeit more recently, tried to be more than somebody’s wife in the house, I was even more humiliated, very shrewdly, with smiles of supremacy. I feel like it’s too late to join the outside world. Like people don’t want me there. We are shit-for-brains wives in a house. So don’t call us homemakers. Well, at least, don’t call me that. Or at least, support that calling strongly – and not with the photos of unhappy, hysterical babies of the working mothers. Our babies are hysterical, too; they’re also less respectful of us. Support us with a law that secures us a cheque in the mail every month. Just rebranding us into ‘home-makers’ sounds horrible, like a voluntarily chosen profession, and I never wanted to be that. Never.

At least a ‘housewife’ has some drama and a lot of tragicomic elements to it.

When will a soft-tempered housewife break that glass ceiling? Never, right? And that, only that, would be a defining moment. Thatcher was the first female PM, but she was made of iron, apparently, and had hurt many lives. So, should she really count?

I think that yes, she should count, as children’s diseases count as those early, once inevitable, immune system boosters.

But, let’s get softer and rise higher; let’s not get nastier to rise higher is what I’m saying.

But I don’t think it would be the case. Not in my lifetime.

I think men will get softer before we do. They will start enjoying the house chores, and they will be the real homemakers. They will support each other in this new entrepreneurship. And by supporting each other, they will find the ways to get paid for being proper professional homemakers, the soft pillars of society. Damn.

londonstories.etc

No, thanks, I say.

I don’t want to pay a fortune and go to a rural retreat!

Even if it’s in Tuscany, or South of France. As far as I’m concerned, you can stop advebanksy_grafitti_streetart_designsekcja23rtising expensive rural retreats. Please don’t underestimate me because I don’t really work, and must have tons of time on my hands – evil playgrounds.

Yes, I only write, sometimes, which is totally insane, I know.

Once, I hoped that writing would make me the bittiest bit of money, like 100 pounds a month – and it did for a while, for 6 months, maybe, and then it stopped, people stopped paying, even though they still expected lines from me, lines of words to fill their work, the real work.

If a normal person – who is, like me, glad to be alive – stays in a rural retreat for more than two consecutive nights, she…

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