I’d lost all faith in everything, except for the certainty that there’s always someone behind our back wanting to deceive us.
“The whole business of mobile phones can’t last,’ declared Simei. ‘First, they cost a fortune and only a few can afford them. Second, people will soon discover it isn’t so essential to telephone everyone at all times. They’ll lose enjoyment of private, face-to-face conversation, and at the end of them onth they’ll discover their phone bill is running out of control. It’s a fashion that’s going to fizzle out in a year, two at most. Mobile phones, for now, are useful only to adulterous husbands, and perhaps plumbers. But no one else.”
“No,” I said, “these are precisely the expressions readers expect, that’s what newspapers have accustomed them to. Readers understand what’s going on only if you tell them we’re in a no-go situation, the government is forecasting blood and tears, the road is all uphill, the Quirinal Palace is ready for war, Craxi is shooting point-blank, time is pressing, should not be taken for granted, no room for belly-aching, we’re in deep water, or better still we’re in the eye of the storm. Politicians don’t just say or state emphatically – they roar. And the police act with professionalism.”
“Now let me go on with my list. We need to have our cake and eat it, keep our finger on the pulse, take to the field, be in the spotlight, make the best of a bad job. Once out of the tunnel, once the goose is cooked, nothing gets in our way, we keep our eyes peeled, a needle in a haystack, the tide turns, television takes the lion’s share and leaves just the crumbs, we’re getting back on track, listening figures have plummeted, give a strong signal, an ear to the ground, emerging in bad shape, at three hundred and sixty degrees, a nasty thorn in the side, the party’s over…And above all, apologise. The Anglican Church apologises to Darwin, Virginia apologises for the ordeal of slavery, the electricity company apologises for the power cuts, the Canadian government officially apologises to the Inuit people. You mustn’t say the Church has revised its original position on the rotation of the Earth but that the Pope apologises to Galileo.”
“Darling, we’ll look for a country with no secrets and where everything is done in the open. In Central and South America you’ll find plenty. Nothing’s hidden, you know who belong to which drug cartel, who runs the bands of revolutionaries. You sit in a restaurant, a group of friends passes and introduces you to the man in charge of arms smuggling, all neatly shaved and perfumed, dressed in a starched white shirt that hangs loose from his trousers, the waiters address him reverently with señor here and señor there, and the Chief of the Guardia Civil goes across to pay his respects. They are countries that hold no mysteries, everything is done in the open, the police demand to be bribed as a matter of right, the government and the underworld coexist by constitutional decree, the banks make their living through money laundering, and you’ll be in trouble if you don’t have other money of doubtful provenance, they’ll cancel your residency permit. And they kill, but only each other, they leave tourists in peace.”
Maia has restored my peace of mind, my self-confidence, or at least my calm distrust of the world around me.
My review of Numero Zero
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska