Johannes Klabbers is a Dutch/Australian writer and posthumanist therapist, currently living in Europe. He is the author of I Am Here: Stories From A Cancer Ward (Scribe Aus/UK 2016), which tells the story of an academic in the Australian outback who takes a voluntary redundancy and reinvents himself as a secular pastoral worker in the largest cancer hospital in the southern hemisphere. The Australian described it as “wonderfully insightful”. His website is johannesk.com and he tweets @johklab, is on Facebook @johkla and blogs on Medium @johannesk.
Offices of the Coöperatieve Raiffeisenbank, St. Jacobsstraat, Utrecht, The Netherlands by night in 1957. Photographer : L.H.Hofland. Used by permission. Copyright: Het Utrechts Archief.
Johannes Klabbers is thinking through what it could mean to write postfiction. This is the third of four postfiction pieces to be published in Tincture in 2017, all available in the journal and online. See also postfiction.space.
When I was thirteen I thought being Dutch was really crap. So boring and useless. We couldn’t stop our country being invaded by the Germans. And we couldn’t beat them in the World Cup final either, even with Cruijff and after being 1-0 up within the first two minutes. We made one ugly little car called a DAF that no one wanted, and everything had an old people smell. We spoke a stupid language which you could only use to communicate with other boring Dutch people. Things and people from England and Amerika, on the other hand, were exciting and interesting. When the opportunity came to go and live in England where the Beatles and the Stones (and the Who! and the Kinks!) were from, I couldn’t believe my luck. But the harsh reality was that the life of a fourteen-year-old schoolboy in the outer suburbs of London in the early 70s was no picnic. And I was still Dutch!
What would have happened if I’d gone to New York, or for that matter, LA, or Berlin? But I didn’t. I went to London and, eight years later, an Australian woman I met there, bought me a ticket to Australia.
A fragment from an old song drifts up from the unconscious. The voice says:
You stumble, sometimes fall.
Pick yourself up!
Hold yourself up to the light!
Duck your head!
Watch for the blade!
If you could pick any time in history after 26 January 1788 to arrive in Sydney, Australia, what would it be? I’ll leave that hanging for a moment but I bet you know what my answer is going to be.
Which Australian band would, in time, become the subject of a Belgian Trivial Pursuit question?