At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Much of my present tastes derive from growing up in the hinterlands of Brabant in a house with a huge number of books. One is not far from the modern world there, but the world is, conveniently, at arms length. Literally. I knew what was going elsewhere, and had a fair impression of trends and cultural developments. The T'ang Dynasty, sculptures by Henry Moore, Francis Bacon's paintings, operas by Brecht and Weill .....

When my family moved to Holland, my parents packed all of their books along, and once settled, started ordering from shops in civilization that shipped abroad.

There was only one local bookstore -- Priem's -- which had mostly stuff in Dutch, and a very small selection in French, German, and English.
I spent innumerable hours within, happily reading hidden behind the stacks. I'm sure they knew what I was doing, but as long as you leave the literature unstained and undamaged, and are quiet and well-behaved, bookstores rather approve of you exercising your literacy.
Yes, I also spent money there.

Adolescents did not used to have much in the way of funds. And some of that had to go for pipe tobacco, and the occasional tin of tea. The tobacco seller next door to Priem's was not quite satisfactory, and I soon gravitated toward a small but more pleasant place further down the Eindhovensche Weg, where the owner opportunistically sold me all the English tobacco he carried. Mostly Balkan Sobranie mixture, a brief interruption for some Dunhill blends, and, once in a blue moon, something Danish and rather steamed.
I looked forward to my weekly visit; there is something just so appealing and comforting about a fresh full tin. One really does feel on top of the world when cracking it open, stuffing a load into a pipe, and lighting up. Full pot of hot tea on the table, crisp newspapers, one light on, and total quiet in the building, while the weather blatters and blasts on the street outside.

For years I convinced myself that I was social. Now I have realized that while I like people around me, I do not want to talk to most of them.

All I really want, most of the time, is to be inside with a pipe, a beverage and a snack if possible, and for the loud and unpleasant people to be outside in the rain.

Maybe a spot of sherry or Scotch, later.

San Francisco provides fractions of all of that. Last night the air was rich with moisture. Not really fog, so much as apathetic precipitation, which rendered one damp upon returning in the wee hours.
Earlier in the evening I had dined on roast duck over rice at the Kam Po, followed by a pipe while wandering along Stockton, then down Washington to Walter Lum Place. By that time most of the real stores had closed, leaving just the souvenir emporia open for the lumbering tourists.

The bookstore just below Grant used to be open till nine in the evening. Now they shut down at six. One can no longer browse as late, nor buy several newspapers to read at a nearby bakery or chachanteng.
If shopping for literacy, shop early.

Chinatown is changing, but it is still sweet. One can get a hot cup of milk tea, and one or two places are open in the evening for the old men who need to buy a fresh pack of smokes after dark. Double Happiness Brand, or Longevity in the black packs. Two liquor stores; if you need some clear liquor or faatiu shaohsing wine, we can do that.
The latter tastes remarkably like sherry.

Under the light near the playground, old people are still playing cards.

I did not go visit the parrots in Sue Bierman Park.

One cannot see them at night.

Whenever I think of Valkenswaard, it's almost always of fallen leaves.
At present the weather has become more autumnal in San Francisco. Darkness comes earlier, evenings are cool, verging on cold. The rainy season is almost upon us, sooner than expected. I hope it downpours for the next few months, and washes away all the e-commerce yuppies. They need to go back to that "elsewhere" in the country where they came from.
These are folks who dress funny and eat too much.
Their presence is not salubrious.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


  • At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A wonderful autumnal evocation of books and reading when young in northern Europe.

    I remember it well myself.



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