‘I think you might soon be out of a job,’ I hear the Nymph say. She is standing in the door, both hands in hips, watching me hoover the living room after last nights Salon. I’m working very slowly. My bones are aching, my head is aching. I’m
‘Why?’ I brush away the sweat from my forehead, turn off the hoover and sink exhausted into the sofa. I love hosting my salons but they take a lot of effort to prepare and clear up.
‘Your work ethic isn’t good enough. You just want to drink your tea and stare into the void.’
‘You are right! I could do with a cup of tea,’ I sigh and hope Peirene will take the hint.
She doesn’t move. Instead she rolls her eyes. ‘You see. That’s what just what I mean. All you have to do is tidy the house a bit, and what happens? You collapse! That attitude would not have got you from Sudan to the UK.’
I suddenly see what’s on her mind. Yesterday’s Salon was all about ‘breach’, our first Peirene Now! commission. The stars of the night were the authors, Olu and Annie, who were joined by Mohamed, a young Sudanese man who they met in the Calais refugee camp last autumn when they did the research for the book. Shortly afterwards, Mohamed made it to England and is now legally working and studying here.
I asked him: ‘How long were you in Calais?’ ‘Only one month,’ he replied. ‘I kept on trying to get on a truck every single night. That was the only thing on my mind. I just didn’t give up. Others gave up after three or maybe four times. I didn’t. And then I was lucky. I managed to hide in a truck full of tyres where no scanner or police dog could find me.’
‘Take Mohamed as an example.’ The Nymph walks now over to the hoover. ‘He will be a successful man what ever he does. Because he has focus, determination and knows that he has to create his own luck. You should be worried, I might give your job to him. Then things would get done.’ She pushes the hoover in my direction.
For a moment I want to protest. But she’s got a point. I’ve recently moaned a lot, about too much admin, about having to sort out issues that didn’t go right straight away and about why it’s always me who has to pick up the pieces. In fact I have spent a fair amount of energy feeling sorry for myself. And truth to tell that’s what actually exhausted me. Time to change.
I lift myself up from the sofa and turn on the hoover.
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by Connie, creative commons.
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 4 December 2016.