Monday, April 16, 2007

Find one find all

I forget things.

My rent is 411 euros a month, but the cost of living goes up when there are too many things in my head. I am thinking about the book that needs a publisher and the agent who is looking for a publisher and the book I put aside a year ago and the book I am starting from scratch and I walk out the door without my keys.

The Schlusseldienst charges 50 euros to open the door. So walking out the door just once a month without my keys raises the cost of the apartment to 461 euros a month. Or more.

I go to the Schlusseldienst and tell him I am locked out and he tells me he can meet me at the apartment at siebzehn Uhr, 1700 and I say fine. It's 4.30. The mind which is taken up with the three books and the agent seizes on the 7 and thinks 7 o'clock, a long time to wait but it has to be done. I go to Yorckschlosschen, the jazz café on my corner, and order a Jever and Smoky Bacon Walker's Crisps. I read the café's copy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, I think about the three books, time goes by, it's only 5 pm, it's 5.30 pm, I order another Jever, it's 6 pm, it's 6.30 pm, I pay, I leave. As I walk down the street to my house "siebzehn Uhr" goes through my mind and I think: 1700. 1700. 1700. Which is 5 o'clock. And now, of course, the Schlusseldienst is closed. What can I do? Where can I go?

My friend Ingrid Kerma is a painter who lives in London but has an apartment in Berlin near Kotbusser Tor. The key is kept by Barbara Colosseus, the web diva who designed my website and lives two floors up from Ingrid. I don't have Barbara's number. I take the U1 to Kotbusser Tor, go to Ingrid's place in Naunynstraße, ring Barbara's bell. She's there.

I let myself into Ingrid's apartment, call her to tell her I'm spending the night there. It feels pretty good.

In the morning I go to the bank for more cash. I think of the locksmith turning up at my apartment at 5pm, waiting for me, wondering what to do; I feel terrible. I need to apologise, I need to grovel, I need to offer more money, I need to atone. I pass a flower stall and buy 30 tulips for 12 euros. I go back to the Schlusseldienst, I explain in broken German about the 24-hour clock and the confusion this causes those who have not grown up with it, I give him 30 tulips, I apologise. This time the Schlusseldienst takes me to the apartment in his car. I offer more money but he says No, no that's fine.

In a separate but unrelated incident I am thinking about the three books and my agent and put water on to boil for pasta and go back to my laptop to work on one of the books or perhaps write to my agent. It's late. I go to bed. In the morning I go to the kitchen and the gas is still on under a dry pan with a blackened bottom.

Sometimes I lose things in the apartment. Every surface is covered with papers. I know the keys are here somewhere because I could not be in the apartment if I had not had the keys. So I can't leave the apartment without looking under all the papers until I find the keys.

Sometimes I put things in a safe place. I put my driver's licence, which I seldom use, in a safe place. I put my passport in a safe place. Later I remember that I put these documents in a safe place, but I can't remember what I thought would be a safe place.

Find One Find All is a device that can be attached to various things that get lost (key rings, wallet, remote control). Each object has a code. The device has a keypad. If you have located one of the objects, you can key in the code of a missing object on the keypad and the FOFA of the missing object will emit a signal enabling you to track it down.

It will not help you remember that you put water on to boil. It will not stop you walking out the door without your keys. But perhaps you've had this experience. You need a phone number. It's in your mobile phone. You can't find the phone. There are papers everywhere; you ransack the place but you can't find the phone. You call it on your landline; the William Tell overture burbles merrily from your pocket. You can't use your landline to contact your keys, your wallet, your driver's licence, your passport. FOFA might do the trick.


Tim said...

What book are you starting from scratch? Can you share anything about it at this time?

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