LIFE IS NOT BEAUTIFUL
21 Jan 23
Dear Readers, my dispatches will always be free and open to everyone. I am unable to use my hands and I’m writing, via dictation, with the help of my family. If you could become a paid subscriber and support me, it’d mean so much.
Yesterday, as you might have heard from my son Carlo, was a bit of a catastrophe because we wrote the blog and then we lost the blog. I am sure all of you have had this experience.
But it is tiring doing this work and when we lost it there were tears and recriminations. I accused Isabella of going the full Bette Davis. She said I behaved as if I, Marcel Proust, had written the whole of the Remembrance of Things Past on a toilet roll on which a passing rent boy had just wiped his ass.
This morning my two new friends, Miss S and the Maestro, came to my room for our coffee trip the bar, but the nurse said he was busy and could not push me.
So Miss S got behind me, and behind her was the Maestro, and the two of them, in this wagon-train of wheel-chairs, pushed me all the way to the bar where we had an Italian orange flavoured drink called Crodino and white pizza.
Having promised myself as a young man never to drink anything orange, I did in fact enjoy the Crodino, and as you can see I have become a man of flexible principles.
The good news is I have a new mattress. Apparently, there is some envy in the hospital because these good new mattresses are difficult to acquire. People think I am behaving like a VIP because I keep a blog about going to the bar.
But I can tell you that the new mattress is like lying between the breasts of Jane Mansfield and there is no way I would forfeit it even if Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were to dance again.
If I am not on the mattress I have a tremendous pain in the arse, wherever else I sit. And I can tell you that a pain in the arse is a pain in the arse.
Yesterday I was intending to complete the Amsterdam orgy and begin a new piece which would be called the Ligger and the Bondage Trousers. It would be about punk and the seventies.
This morning a nurse was washing me while singing a song by Abba called Fernando. As he sung, he got my shit on his fingers and he said to me, “I thought that was going to happen – I have a good nose” and he kept on singing.
When I went to the gym this afternoon and saw all the patients with their broken or malformed bodies being manipulated and caressed by the physiotherapists, something in me changed.
I thought, if you only watch the news and tv shows, you would have the impression that the world is only a harsh place, inhabited by money-grubbing and narcissistic individuals. When you see the mutual work done in the gym, it is a place of beauty, collaboration and respect.
Many of the patients I have spoken to are aware that those on the outside world are appalled, if not afraid, of those with disabilities. It is as if having a disability were contagious, which it is.
Most of us at some time in our lives will suffer from a catastrophic health crisis which will make us feel isolated and afraid. But it is as if we want to believe that we live in a world of many healthy and well-functioning people. We do not.
We have convinced ourselves that there is a standard of the well and effective human being. This is deception, an ideology, which is deliberately misleading. It means that we cannot always see the disabled, just as in other circumstances we fail to see others of colour, or queers.
We should give up the standardised view of the world for a more complex view, which will include more people.
I intend in the future to write more about the writers I like, for instance Graham Greene, Henry Miller and Jean Rhys. I have many ideas which I sketch out in my head but fail to actually write.
I think it is because composing a piece in your head might feel as though you have actually written it down, but you have not. So I will continue to write freely and spontaneously, as I am doing now. I have never written like this before.
The Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi wrote, I have heard, a paper about remarkable children who have been traumatized. The trauma, according to him, produces an incredibly rapid growth spurt because the child has to develop fast in order to comprehend and organise himself around the new horror.
I am aware of this in my own life; as a teenager I was so traumatised by racism and the unpleasantness of the school I was attending at the time that I began to read and write at a remarkable rate.
I was far more developed than my peers. Trauma saved me and made me into a writer. Something similar is happening here, I am finding a way to cope with the horror of my recent accident.
I would be very keen to hear from other readers who have thoughts on this matter. Please get in touch. I will try to read everything that is sent to me.
Thank you so much.
Your loving and devoted scrittore.
No hands Hanif.
When I was younger, a child and then a teenager, my father would encourage me to read and at times forcefully. He gave me books way beyond my years and the guardian. Nothing I read I found of any interest. I grew up in Oldham. My brother who is 6 years older than me, like most big brothers, was in to very cool music, fashion and art way before me. He was the first of our family to go to university and whilst attending Cambridge he gave me the black album by Hanif Kureshi.
I cannot explain to you the impact that book had on me at that time. There are very few things that have had such momentous impact on me and my future self - it was like taking ecstasy for the first time at a rave in Manchester at 16. Reading the black album must have affected the course of my life in the same way that listening to dangerous by Micheal Jackson and teddy Riley. It goes without saying I have read everything you’ve ever written before and after.
I’m sorry you’re accident happened and your life has changed the way it has. I cannot imagine. However, these writings feel somehow like the most precious, honest and genuine insightful writings I’ve ever read. They’re simplicity and nuance is so incredibly intoxicating.
I want you to know how much your books have meant to me. They’ve meant to me what the Beatles catalogue means to others.
Thank you. You’re biggest fan.
I had the gift of being brought up by a Grandfather who was severely physically limited by polio which he had acquired kissing a girl when he was 16 (according to legend). He was going to be a farmer and ended up heading up the orthopaedic department of a big hospital in a big town. He was the most talented, kind, and out there person I have ever met. Don’t even mention the anti-vax movement to anyone born in the fifties where we routinely saw callipers; pock marked faces; stunted bodies. Courage. I am loving your free writing.