80. The Tricorne Hat

Part 2 of the 'New Analysand' series. (Previously.)

TODAY, A SECOND SESSION with the new analysand, A, the writer who claims he cannot dream and who wants to analyse his stories instead. I asked him for a small sample of his work and instead he sent me an email with eighty stories attached! I tried reading some but they were dreadful, practically unreadable. No characters, no dialogue, not even paragraph breaks. They reminded me of the worst kind of experimental writing from my university days in the 60s. I told him straight out he could not expect me to read all of them and of course he seemed put out by this. Writers! Why is it my fate to have had so many writers as clients? Why can't I have more straightforward clients like child molesters or serial killers? I should have done what Braunschweig did and specialised in middle aged corporate executives. With AL it is doubly difficult because he doesn't write about childhood or families very much, and certainly not his own. I had to remind myself that I took him on to explore the theory that stories can be analysed as credibly as dreams and slips of the tongue. I asked AL to choose one story among the 80 to begin with, but after considerable prevarication he finally concluded he couldn't. So then I tried a different approach. I asked him if he had noticed any themes emerging from the stories. He said yes, that three or four themes seemed to be popping up again and again: love, travel, memory and missing persons. Missing persons?, I prompted. Disappearances, flights, escapes, disguises, that kind of thing, he said. Why do you think this theme is popping up so often?, I prompted. He thought about this for some time, so long that I could feel myself nodding off to sleep - something that has become a habit recently. My wife says it's a sure sign I should retire, to which I reply, who will pay off the holiday house if I retire? Still, I should make an appointment with a sleep specialist. Finally he said maybe it had something to do with the death of his grandfather. He was really trying my patience now. For a writer he can be surprisingly slow at times. When did your grandfather die?, I asked. Just a few years ago, he said. He said his grandfather had lived the most incredible life, full of migrations, transformations and miraculous happenings. For a minute there I thought I'd been trapped in an Isabel Allende novel, but thankfully before he could start telling me more about his grandfather the hour was up. I really should have followed my initial instinct and referred him on to Braunschweig, just to annoy the old German bastard. Afterwards I headed across town to the Minotaur for the habitual Wednesday night steak with SR, but he cancelled at the last minute, saying he was too unwell. I know he has cancer, but nevertheless despite myself I must admit I was put out. He is exhibiting all the selfishness of the ill and infirm. But seeing as I was there I decided I should dine anyway, even if it was on my own. The steak was good, as always, but I couldn't enjoy the meal. I abhor dining in a restaurant on my own - I always have. I remember visiting Paris with my mother and brother when I was a very young man. She took us to eat at La Coupole, and we were seated at at a table next to an old man eating on his own. At least I thought he was old back then, although in fact he was probably about the same age I am now, and I am far from old. He was wearing a kind of tricorne hat made out of folded newspaper, and at his feet there was a lapdog to whom he occasionally bent down to give a morsel of food from his plate. Master and dog ate from the same fork. My mother and brother found this man highly amusing, but I couldn't see the joke. I thought he was the saddest thing I had ever seen.