The Shoe Leather Express

Writing and Comedy from James Harris

Tag: London

Gaspard

Recently I was in Europe waiting for a bus, in one of the lengthy journeys which have punctuated my thirties. I was in Lille, the bus was very late, and I noticed that waiting with me – in the tiny waiting area, no more than a dias above an elevator – was a French family. They were a grandmother, a granddad and two kids, a boy and a girl. As other buses came and went, it gradually became clear that we were all waiting for the same bus to London.

Eventually, the bus did arrive, and even late we had to change onto another bus at Calais. Once the disarray of relocation had settled, I found myself sat next to the boy from that family, who, I deduced by his grandmother’s frequent address, was called Gaspard. First of all Gaspard was sat near the window, but after we went through customs twice, I ended up there. I asked the returning young man, ‘Vous voulez à la fenêtre?’ and Gaspard said it was no problem, which disposed me to him no end.

We made it through that tunnel. Occasionally, the grandmother would ask Gaspard if he was alright, and he would say he was; an hour passed, and when I looked over next Gaspard was sleeping. I looked down on him, this well-dressed and exhausted figure, and wrote him a poem.

 

Gaspard, tu dors.

Le monde est grand

Et tu sais bien que

Tu auras beaucoup à faire.

Gaspard, tu dors.

Tu as bien raison.

 

Doing this amused me. And with the poem being so simple, I decided to have another go at it in German.

 

Kaspar, du schläfst.

Die Welt ist ja groß und

Du weiß schon, dass

Du viel tun wirst.

Kaspar, du schläfst.

Du hast wohl recht.

 

And, as I was still amusing myself, I tried it in English.

 

Cuthbert, you sleep.

The world’s so big and

You’re well aware

You’ll have a lot to do.

Cuthbert, you sleep.

That’s probably right.

 

That was enough for now. But perhaps others might want to try translating the poem into their languages? It’s called ‘Gaspard’.

Approaching London 0n 26.02.2017.

Entering London 0n 26.02.2017.

 

Later we approached London in a storm. The night was vast and no ideas counted; I saw pubs dashed by rain and blistered neon. I thought, I want nothing more than to be here, seeing this, and in some way this child’s presence is part of my feeling. For his part, of course, it is unlikely he will ever read this tribute or indeed even know of its or remember my existence. Still he was cool guy. When we finally arrived I wished him ‘un beau temps a Londres.’ ‘À vous aussi’, he replied, to you too.

*

In a delightful addendum to the story, my friend Elo Zobel has now provided an Estonian version. Tänan väga, Elo.

Kaspar, sa magad

Maailm on suur

Ja sa tead et sa pead

Palju

Kaspar, sa magad

Ja nii ongi hea.

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After the election

The whole city felt built on vanity that weekend, and
Even to write a line like cracking rocks. To tell lies
Though was easy, and they did so, the white-shirted
Traders unsure why their hearts were unmoved.
David Cameron meanwhile just didn’t get that
A certain person didn’t want to hear him talk about money
But more to watch boats on the crystal-sludged Thames.
Down there, a man was building a sandcastle
On which he’d written ‘Take pic, leave tip,’ and as he chiseled
From time to time the brown coins rained down.

Image at

       Image from mazz_56 at pixabay.

New York and London

New York and London they dream of each other
And when one rises the other’s in bed,
Neat New York which peers over the ocean
Tucking its skyscrapers in. And London
The businessman is sure to come calling
To the place he remembered Liberty last;
London and New York will dream of each other
Until the ocean rises, till the cities fall.

Shows

I had a writing year. I leave 2014 with a finished full-length novel, a short screenplay, and a three-part radio play on my hard drive. Good Lord, I even managed to write a few things on this blog. Of course, I’d rather have a radio play awaiting production, a novel accepted by a publisher and a screenplay in the hands of David Gordon Green – but you can’t have everything. Or, frequently, much.

Nonetheless, what I do have is a raft of stand-up gigs booked for the new year. The full list is here with some highlights below.

Jan 13

TNT Comedy
The Vine

Feb 06

Work-in-progress show
Bar 1820, Berlin

Feb 14

The Anti-Slam Valentines Day Special
Hackney Picturehouse Attic

Feb 15

Angel Comedy
Camden Head

April 24

Rome’s Comedy Club
Rome, Italy

April 29

Strictly Stand-Up
Quatsch Comedy Club, Berlin

Further gigs will of course be added. I have a new fifteen minutes for London which I’ll be taking out and developing, and at the end of January/start of Feb I’ll be doing some of my German greatest-hits back in the Vaterland. I’m looking forward to getting on the comedy pony again.

See you on the road.

Various photos 1162