My ace in the hole.
My ace in the hole.
I have always enjoyed good correspondence. Letters and, latterly, emails can really make my day and more (so much more). Over the years I’ve kept copies of ones I sent to friends (here’s one) and family (here’s one of those) and yet others which I didn’t send (like this one written in gratitude, or this, written reflectively). I never intended to send them, whether for want of an address or conviction, or for reasons politic. I always felt better for writing all my letters, though the unsent have given me a particular pleasure.
So, it was with great delight this week that I discovered The Missing Post Office. An idea launched by the Japanese conceptual artist, Saya Kubota, in her home country, it was also offered in the UK until 22 February. A poste restante of sorts, it’s for those letters we need to write which would otherwise remain unsent – for many different reasons. So far, letters have been received addressed to people, objects and concepts. They take care of them all, ‘floating in a liminal space under our custody’.
As Saya writes: ‘We invite you to post a letter, like a message in a bottle, that will float on the sea of time. A letter to anyone, anywhere, at any time, which might one day
arrive here with us, and be washed ashore to you as the reader.’ So, without ado, if you’d like to know more…
One of my favourite words in the English language for both its sound and its sense, its first coinage is described here in The Paris Review:
A letter written to a friend in July 1993, when I was working at The Meltemi Bar in Symi, Greece.
It was great to speak to you on the phone yesterday. It seems strange now to be working in the bar without seeing you around, even just for five minutes. Anyway, as usual, I had so many things to say and said so few (I always remember them just as I replace the receiver). When you left the island on Tuesday, I really wanted to come down to the boat to say goodbye, but understood it was best not to. I just watched from a distance, walking around the headland to see the ship disappear from view. I’m sure there are many things you won’t miss about The Rock – petty jealousy, endless gossip (to name just two!) – but am also just as sure that there will be people and places you recall with fondness. You are a difficult person to know or to feel close to, but I do believe we are at the beginning of a strong friendship. I have you to thank for a sense of perspective, smiles, laughter and relaxation.
In other news, I went out with A, Y and E on Thursday – we had a great evening together up in the village and remembered to exchange contact details to keep in touch after they leave at the end of the month. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that the teachers are always good company and that I’ll miss them sorely at the end of term. I’m happily convinced, though, that A and Y will be back in September, and as a married couple. There was a schoolchildren’s dance on Saturday night at the large new bouzouki taverna – the party dragged on some (long past everyone’s bedtime!) but a good time was had by all. There have been the now usual fights between the bars because of noise. One particular confrontation, four nights ago, resulted in a couple of bar owners needing medical attention – they’re now wandering around with heavily bandaged faces. Rumours continue to circulate that the police are coming next week to check IKA and work papers; right now, I have filed this under gossip.
So, I’m writing this here in the bar. It’s very quiet in the day now – but I have my books and writing pad to keep me busy once I’ve opened up for business. There was a lot of cleaning to do this morning, for sure, as they didn’t close until 6 a.m. from the night before – hardly worth their while shutting up shop, really. Needless to say, once again, I’m the only one awake around here! Anyway, I’ll be finishing here next month, to help open the school in September. I move into the apartment ‘over the shop’ on Sunday, at last and I’m looking forward to it. The school passed its inspection on 13 July, so it’s now ‘official’ and there’s no more to do than sort out my work and IKA papers.
Every success on the family farm this summer – I hope you found everyone well and happy when you returned. All here send their best wishes (and a Ry Cooder tape, which is on its way as I write this).
Take care of yourself. I miss you and wish you well.