When he was a child, his parents’ property in Ussy was adjacent to Samuel Beckett’s. Nothing amused him more than tossing moles over the wall into the writer’s yard. If he is to be believed, this was even his chief source of entertainment. Perhaps his only source of entertainment. Today, he takes pride in this prior proximity, and he boasts of his childish games. In fact, he never shuts up about them.
“When I was a child, we lived next to Samuel Beckett in Ussy. I had a great time chucking moles into his yard.”
It’s not hard to believe him. He’s a sly-eyed guy with ugly teeth. He teaches electronics at Désiré Nisard High. He likes his job. He claims he gets along well with his students. But mostly what we notice are his skin problems, those red patches on his hands and face, the
desquamation, the scabs.
“Chronic eczema. A rare, complicated form. I put ointment on it.”
Who asked him? Beckett—that’s what interests us. This man lived next door to Beckett, for Christ’s sake. What memories does he have of him?
“I used to pitch moles into his yard when I was a kid.”
So. Here’s a man who lived next door to Beckett for several years and he has nothing better to tell us about that fact than he tossed moles into Beckett’s yard, over the wall, for fun?
“I would smoke them out of their tunnels. They would come above ground, stunned, zigzagging blindly. Christ, a mole in the sun is so stupid. I’d whack them with a shovel without killing them.”
Then he would toss them over the wall, to Beckett’s; we get the picture. Basically, this bonehead of a brat harassed one of the great geniuses of his century. And today he doesn’t seem ashamed of this. That, perhaps, is what is most perturbing. Because the way he tells it, he was bombarding Beckett’s yard with moles. And the moles destroyed Beckett’s yard. And this, no doubt, distressed Beckett.
We are in the presence of someone who deliberately caused Beckett harm and who is bragging about it to this day. And he’s telling us all this because he knows we love literature and we love Beckett. Does he want to impress us with his story? Arouse our jealousy, elicit our admiration perhaps? Like someone who would brag about having cultivated a special relationship with Beckett?
“I knew Beckett well. I even tossed moles into his yard.”
He is the only person who can say such a thing. Who else could?
Not a soul, not even Beckett’s closest friends had this type of relationship with him.
To read the entire piece, purchase your copy of Music & Literature no. 8.