THE AMAZING CASE OF JAN VARDOEN(11/02/2007)
Aquest article no està traduït al català; es mostra la seva versió en anglès
On an old friend
(CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE THREE)
Twenty-five years ago, when I first met him, Ian (as he still called himself) was living in a squat and on the dole in South London. He was a self-taught printer, locksmith, plumber, and electrician, skills he put to the service of the local anarchist movement, never charging a penny. His real ambition, however, was another kettle of fish altogether: he wanted, he said, to be a singer-songwriter. To which I would answer, trying to hide my scepticism, sure Ian, sounds great.
In 1989, Ian went to live in his mother's native country, Norway. Changing his name to Jan, he taught himself boatbuilding, cocktail mixing and Norwegian. Ten years ago, when he visited me in Barcelona, he was working in a bar in a small town west of Oslo. He still insisted that his main ambition was to become a singer-songwriter. Sure, Jan.
Last week, I got a second visit from him. So Jan, how are things? He explained that eight years ago, in a run-down Oslo neighbourhood, he had been offered an equally run-down bar for peanuts. He bought it on a loan, then renovated it himself from top to bottom. It quickly became Oslo's most fashionable pub. He went on to open a restaurant, a delicatessen, and another bar. Noticing, perhaps, my incredulous expression, he showed me photos of these places. Then he put three books on the table. All in Norwegian, all by him. Two were about making cocktails, best-sellers both. The third was a collection of short stories. On the books he then placed four CDs. Also by him. Knocked down by his feather of a smile, I learnt that Jan had, on top of everything else, managed to become, at 43, a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter in his adopted country. It was a strange, exultant pleasure to discover that one of his finest songs, 'Dressed In Black' (downloadable from iansenior.com) was about his anarchist days, when I first met him, twenty-five years ago.