It seemed fitting to spend 31 January (Brexit Day) with a good old friend. She has the modern smart phone needed to scan my Dutch passport. It was good to have moral support: I had a crying fit during the identity check part of the application. Luckily, I only started crying after she’d taken my photo which the Home Office staff/system will check against the photo in the passport! And the automatic check on my National Insurance (NI) number confirmed that I was eligible to apply for “settled” status.
I’ve been resident in the UK since 1973 and I have close friends here and my writing, but it has felt less and less like home after the 2016 referendum.
At secondary school (Gymnasium) we learned English, German and French and we crawled at a snail’s pace through l’Étranger, the 1942 novel by Albert Camus which is a classic in world literature. Camus developed the philosophical concept of Absurdism and the way he died in a car accident, aged 46, could be considered absurd.
The poem is from my debut collection Another life, published by Oversteps Books Ltd in 2016.
On reaching his 102nd Birthday
He always liked his drink,
so it’s no surprise that Albert went North,
that unused train ticket in his pocket.
He is said to have died in a car crash,
but police do know people who
walk away and without a scratch.
After walking for weeks, he reached Norway
where the days are short
and the nights are made for alcohol.
Camus lived in a modest house
with a butcher’s block in the kitchen
where he cut reindeer and smoked.
A flock of swans flew through his dreams,
so he married the next woman to walk past,
taught her two sons to play football.
She taught him to sleep soundly at last.
A pied-noir at rest under the Herring Lights,
on the cold edge of man’s world.
Yellowish green and faint red glowing,
these arcs and rays and curtains of gas,
the fight against dawn and the sun.