These guys are totes amazeballs… ok, I know, I shouldn’t try to do popular culture…
I’m sitting in the studio of Shakespeare and Company with Christa Minkin and Olga Torrico. Both of these excellent tumbleweeds are leaving today, one to Vienna, the other to Rome. Christa hugs a mug of tea whilst sitting on a chair, as Olga moves around the room packing up her possessions. They might have done their shifts and written their biographies, but there is one more thing left for these tumbleweeds to go through, and as always your humble servant the tumblepress is here mooching free tea and typing down everything they say. Our Tumbleweed Correspondent asks the questions you want to know the answers to.
(Christa blows noes)
Did you write your biography yesterday? No, you didn’t finish it?
What did you say?
I don’t really remember what I did, so let me see… this was my bio actually.
This is my bio.
(They look at a sheet of paper)
This is how to draw Christa, not your biography!
(reading out loud)
I would like to write a new bio. I would like to say many things. I will now show you how to draw Christa, my favourite tumbleweed… that’s my bio I think
(they look through Olga’s sketch book)
What is this, the vegetable?
This is Rob’s.
I love that!
What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?
Do I… have to think about it… Ahem. Olga
(points at Olga)
We need to say Charlie is having a shower in the background
(in a whisper)
If we speak really quietly he will not here us…
(back to normal volume)
It was definitely Olga as she was a tumbleweed and I was here before and she was a volunteer and I would hang out all the time and I became a volunteer and now tumbleweed.
Do you want some tea?
I’d love some
Let’s make it…
I was just I had just arrived in Paris and it was like one week that I was in Paris and ehm I was walking and I was feeling actually, I was feeling really sad and I was reading here. I remember I was reading Tropic of Cancer and I sat there and the bookshop was closed and that made me feel even more depressed and I thought what the hell? I came here and its closed! I came here by chance and I remembered a friend had told me about it and the day after I came by again by chance and the shop was opened and I was really really amazed by everything and I remember I saw the piano and that really impressed me that everyone was playing and that gave me a sense of family. And I went home and there was this huge picnic at Les Invalides with the students and I was sad and I wrote this big email full of cheesy things and all the day long I had been thinking about this place and the day after I received an answer and started volunteering and that’s it.
What is your favourite thing about tumbleweeding?
Being interviewed by Tom.
We can stop there
-but also, I think the main thing I love is being surrounded by books all the time. It’s a cheesy answer as everybody loves this I believe. But of course Olga again, I am referring in all my answers to Olga. And sleeping next to the piano in the piano room. It makes me feel like in a castle of books which is really cool.
I’m sorry guys I have to interrupt. This is out new volunteer, Jenny…
(At this point we pause the interview for some introductions.)
This is so pretty, Olga, this skirt.
It’s stupid Ryan Air…
(she has to wear it over her jeans to get round the hand luggage restrictions.)
“Right before I fell.” – Geddit?
So Olga, your favourite thing about tumbleweeding:
Uhmmmmm… uhm. uh. Ehmmm… Uhmmm, well. So many things, I’m gonna like everything about it, that’s true. It’s tumbleweeding that is my favourite thing. I think I would like to do this for a job for ever and I don’t really care about anything. I don’t know – I really think it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever done. I think the main thing to me is really the people, again another cheesy answer, but it’s true! It is amazing to feel so close in such a short time to people. I love tumbleweeding with this girl here,
(she gestures to Christa)
but in the summer I was tumbleweeding with people I got to know, it was so much fun and to be together with all the staff and – everyone is so gentle and so interesting, and its beautiful that everyone has their own personality, their characteristics, and you feel part of a family.
I love so many things, I love Colette, I love Kitty, it’s this concentrating of characteristics and WHAT AM I SAYING? This is our dog and this is our cat and this is a nice thing. And what I love about tumbleweeding is you feel so free, this is what I love so much, the first time I was tumbleweeding I felt like an animal, and things that are usually important such as eating and sleeping become less important and living becomes more important and running to the pub and – don’t write all these things! Even if you say something he writes things down, so annoying, he doesn’t even look at you when he writes it’s so rude!
I am constantly amazed at how cool people are: the tumbleweeds, volunteers. I just meant cool in the normal sense… except Tom: he’s really cool.
He’s like Marlon Brando
He’s cooler than Marlon Brando
You should wear the hat behind you.
Oh, I just thought of something else I love about tumbleweeding. I want to say that I love that when I’m here I feel like reading books, but also books in English, which is kind of cool because my English was not as good before I came here and now I don’t want to read in German ever again – I just want to read in English… except books by German authors of course, and I love that I’m able to do it now, it’s so cool.
What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?
That’s difficult… hmhm. Give me a moment.
(enter Davy with a massive yellow jug)
What is that?
It’s for breakfast
Oh my god it looks like Pinocchio
I know what my least favourite thing is, because you’re here and you’re so happy and everything is really amazing and then you have to leave. The worst thing is that at some point everything comes to an end
We’ll meet again…
(continues humming at the sink)
So, same question to Olga:
(Looks up to the corner of the room)
(looks to the other corner)
I cant think, I just think about things I like. I like avocado, these morons in Italy, they don’t have avocado: you have to order them and here I eat a lot of avocado…
Like she said, going away is really bad, it’s really hard, everything is so boring. Because, yeah, so getting used to the daily stupid life its kind of boring and terrible. And I think that I don’t like that the tumbleweed locker smells so much, I don’t know whose socks…
I think they’re someone’s shoes not socks…
There’s a little population of creatures on the floor –
Little smelly creatures
And if you put the light on it’s still like a black hole and there’s an Italian poem written on the toilet, how do you say…
– no, I didn’t want to say that. That thing the Italian poem is on is kind of riscatta which is kind of what the hell guys, pay back the fact that there is such a smell. Like compensate.
Who is your favourite member of staff and why?
(folds arms and rocks on chair)
Hmmm. I think everybody says that but it’s definitely Karolina because she is the most amazing person I ever met in my life and I think she is so amazing that I think when she’s talking to me I think why is she talking to me? I don’t deserve it! Why is she talking to normal people like me? Like… morons? She’s really amazing: I don’t know how she does it.
I mean, this is like, the best voted but definitely Karolina. When she comes in in the morning there’s light, when she’s here you’re just out of bed and I do opening in my pyjamas and I look like I’m from a horror movie or drunk even when I’m not, and just going down and then she comes and its like light something I don’t know really how she does it, she’s like so simple but full of things, she’s rich but in a simple way, she’s shiny – there’s something bright about her in a way, she cares about us I think she really does and we meet so many people going by – volunteers staff customers, and its nice when there is someone who stays. When we’re apart we write to each other and its nice she want to come and see us in Rome and Vienna and you find someone it’s going to stay in a way and she’s so brilliant and blond. You’re blond too.
She’s not blond.
Compared to me she is!
Compared to you everyone is. Is it darker than mine?
(they compare hair)
She’s just amazing
And you have this flash, I remember when she broke her feet and we took her to the hospital and we went to the hospital with chocolates and she was smiling all the time and it was fun, like she was having fun even when the foot was hurting so much. I like when she does the therapy and she talks and we listen and she is saying so many beautiful things, telling us about here life – it’s so nice. I think it’s terrible to be interviewed, I feel so much pressure,
(They whisper and switch to French, aware that I am not going to be anywhere near good enough to write it all down. The gist of what they said was “if we speak French he wont be able to write it down” and then something or other after that. I think it was a compliment.)
OK, so two favourite songs each?
Anything for Craven’s Corner?
We should have really composed something.
For once I’m going to let the photo do the talking.
I’ve never talked about poetry with Terry so I have no idea what could impress him. But I really like – there’s this Austrian poet, there was cause he died, and he would write these creepy crazy poems about the war and other things. I don’t know how its called a genre of poetry, I don’t know how it’s called in English. The interesting thing was not to read it but to listen to him . There is for example a poem called Schtzgrbn and there are no vowels. Ehm, and the way he is when he’s like reading it or performing it actually the poem its like your listening to the horrible noises of the war and its like really crazy but amazing. The guy is called Ernst Jandel.
Uhm, well. I mean, do I have to say a poem I like or a poem I would like to tell him? Don’t write that please, I’m wondering! What the hell? Tom you’re terrible, really, well, if… like, that the first poem that comes to me is, like, and I think probably Terry already knows it and it’s maybe useless but it’s a French Baudelaire poem an I love it, its called le Serpent Qui Danse
and its beautiful as its about movement and its so wavy like and its like walking while waving which is really amazing, the way he says everything is so full of a rhythm that is like t t t t t, it is like so cool.
I like to add that you are really serious when you are doing the interview which is quite funny as normally you are not serious at all. And I am really grateful to Shakespeare and Company for the opportunity to be here and I am just so happy that I met so many amazing people and that they wont forget me and will wait for me to come back so we can be amazing together again.
That my favourite thing about tumbleweeding…
uhm.,.,. Yeahm I mean really this is the thing I would like to say: thanks. Just that. Because it is so so nice that they trust people. Like I could have been a serial killer
You definitely look like a serial killer.
So it’s beautiful that they trust you and I feel as though I care about this its like my children, you have this sense of protection towards it, I mean I really care. I want to do something to keep it good and make it feel good, it’s like an alive place it breaths it moves it’s like pulsating, and waking up here in the morning you feel like you are in the belly of a big whale, this building is great. Merci, thanks, grazi
I want to say something about I want my hat back – it is amazing, I want it to come into the interview. Amazing book. Don’t ask us any more questions.
And so I didn’t.
However Olga sent me a message on facebook with advice for interviewing tumbleweeds in future:
1) never interview a tumbleweed when he/she didnt have coffee yet (especially if he/she is Italian and he just had a bland english breakfast tea)
2) never interview a tubleweed if he is leaving in thirty minutes, because he will be too sad about that to be enough lucid or witty or in him/herself to answer properly.
3) never interview a tumbleweed and then scare him by saying that it is later that it really is and he/she is about to lose his plane. one day the poor tumble will fall under a stroke ( cause you see in a way he/she hopes to lose the plane indeed.)