I was born in the servants’ quarters under the roof of a pre-revolutionary sea-slave-trading 18th century house, Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux. Number 95 and it will stick to me in all forms and all multiples of 15 since 95 is eighty fifteen in French, like 1945, my birth year, though conceived in 1944 while the Germans were blowing up their arsenals in Cenon before leaving Bordeaux unarmed and unharmed under the protection of a well-known today Deputy Prefect and De Gaulle’s special envoy, the future mayor of the city for several decades.
The family had left Bordeaux for Cahors, Lot when the Germans arrived and came back after the famous Papon’s trains. You can imagine why. A grand- mother who died in 1938, luckily should I say in a way. Papon would not have forgotten her. I was thus born in a world where the discussions and the beginning of lawsuits were being launched with the gathering of witnesses and testimonies on these devilish trains around City-Counselor Basile, who is remembered by few, except Chaban-Delmas if he were still with us.
The rest is only the story of a second son (second in five) in a working-class family whose father was a militant trade-unionist, enabling us to greet and salute the unemployment inspectors in the morning around 8:00 when we were going to school. The family is now scattered all over France. I only remember from these years trampled-over dignity and daily struggle to keep our heads over the tidal wave of the 30 Glorious Years that were in no way glorious before 1968, when the father’s minimum wage got simply doubled overnight. And I have been working since 1961 (illegal black-market “moon-shine” work for years, indeed so).
The second recollection is the call from distant countries: England, Congo-Kinshasa, Germany (both East and West), Congo-Brazzaville, USA (a lot), Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, always to work there from brown-coal-miner at Borna, East-Germany, to university Teaching Assistant in California, from volunteer translator in Geneva or London for Social Forums or other events to teacher of the English of Buddhism in a Buddhist monastery. Nothing could stop me from looking at the sun right in its eyes. Margins are only done to be invaded or explored and I have more than one margin in my pockets, though no hotel maids.
"...Without music I cannot live, I cannot see a thing, I do not want anything, I am worth nothing..."
To write, to read in public, to produce radio shows, to perform on a stage, to write for that stage, to have thousands of pages published and to be published all over the world and it is never enough, far enough or long enough. To run from one show to the next in theaters, opera-houses, concert-halls, festivals. If I had to count these shows it would be hundreds (about 200 just for La Chaise Dieu Festival), maybe two or three thousand, maybe more. Since 2005 I have been more selective and DVDs have provided me with access to things I could not see otherwise in San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, London, Beijing, Tokyo or whatever other Los Angeles.
And music all the time every minute at every step. Without music I cannot live, I cannot see a thing, I do not want anything, I am worth nothing. A founder of the free radios in France with Radio Quinquin in 1979 when it could mean a prison term. A play with songs in Nord Pas de Calais (National Drama Centre at Béthune) in 1986, a fully sung puppet show in Théâtre Louis Richard at Roubaix in 1994-95, several translations of puppet shows in Bradford Festival in 1993, innumerable live performances on just as innumerable small stages, but the smaller the stage does not mean the less interesting. A few songs like Mary Go Round in 93-94 to quote only one.
My mother’s (my father’s partly too) tongue is Bordeluche, a creolized Occitan dialect spoken in Bordeaux. I learned French at school and still do not control it the way the French Academy would like, and I do not give the slightest damn, not one Hosanna either. My favored language is English and my romantic heart language is German. I swore not to learn Spanish as long as Franco would be alive. When he died it was too late. Esperanto is a special language in the landscape, mi opinias. And I practice half a dozen other languages in opera and classical music. My latest discovery is Sumerian, without speaking of Buddhist Pali.
For the rest, check with Google. (non copyrighted)