Philip de Vos. Baie dankie vir die eerbewys

So nou en dan, as iemand êrens dink jou skryfwerk is goed genoeg, kry jy dalkies ’n literêre toekenning wat jy òf kan laat raam en teen jou sitkamer-muur kan hang, waar jou minder talentvolle vriende dit kan lees, òf anders kan jy dit in ’n laai gooi en vergeet.
 
Eenkeer het ek wel ’n toekenning gekry, en die opdrag was dat die bedankings-speech nie langer as een minuut mag wees nie. Omdat my ma my ordentlik grootgemaak het, en ek altyd doen wat ander mense sê, was daardie speech presiés een minuut lank, en kan ek nou met grote beskeidenheid sê dat daardie een minuut vir die gehoor die hoogtepunt van die aand was.
 
Die skrywer voor my het ’n veel groter prys as ek gekry en dus kon hy vir ongeveer 5 minute praat, en daardie speech was amper ’n halfuur lank, waarin hy gesê het, waarom hy die prys om etiese redes eintlik nie moes aanvaar nie, maar dit wel sou doen.

Die volgende dag het die koerante wel sy speech genoem en dit het soveel koerantspasie opgeneem dat die verslaggewer ongelukkig nie gernoeg plek gehad om my een minuut van glorie te noem nie.

 Wat bedankings betref, kan jy dit òf met vrees en bewende bene voorlees, want skrywers is eintlik gewoond aan die stilte van hulle binnekamers en nié aan groot verhoë met tienduisend oë wat hulle dophou nie, òf jy kan net dankie sê en loop, òf jy kan dit met ’n tong-in-die-kies manier doen soos die wonderlike Annie M.G. Schmidt  toe sy die Hans Christian Andersen Prys in 1988 ontvang het:

Hier is wat sy te sê gehad het:

 
Dear Hans Christian,
I got your award!

Needless to say how happy I am.

 Your fairy tales have been part of my life since I was a little girl. I laughed and cried over them when I was nine and they still inspire me. So I felt proud indeed when the news reached me in April. Later on however I got scared. I knew I had to fly all the way to Oslo. As you know we fly in aeroplanes nowadays, not on our own wings anymore.

 Norway is a beautiful and wonderful country, they told me, although alcoholic drinks are difficult to get. However I was more scared because of the speech I had to make. In English. My accent is terrible, even worse than yours was when you read your story about the ugly duckling to Charles Dickens in London, do you remember?

It is a bit curious and frustrating to make a speech in English when my best books are not available in that language. The international jury had to read my work in German, Japanese and Danish, perhaps to their irritation. The Dutch IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) kept saying, “Oh, she’s very popular in Holland.” “So is football,” the jury replied, “but because she has been on the nomination list since 1960, we’ll take the risk.” And so they did.

Dear Hans, I have been an ugly duck for a long time, now I am an old ugly swan. But still a swan.

Yours forever,

respectfully,

Annie M.G. Schmidt.

 

Dear Annie,

Congratulations on my award.

As for the alcoholic drinks: where I am now, they are even more difficult to get.

I remember quite well seeing you as a little girl of nine weeping over my little mermaid. I was touched. Yesterday I spoke about you with my friends Heinrich Heine and Charles Dickens. We agreed that you have some talent. So: Go on! Proceed! Try again!

Don’t go into playwriting. I did and I failed. So stick to silly old fairy tales, like I did.

As we are not without influence here, we shall try to punish the English and American publishers, who refuse to publish your best books.

On my video – yes, we have video in the conversation-room – I shall follow the IBBY congress. But believe me, I’ll turn it off the moment those professors start trying to convince me that the so-called media, all those chips and clips and floppy disks and disgusting pictures, will eventually prevail over literature, or replace literature.

Language is irreplaceable.

It is written in the Scripture: “In the beginning was the Word.” And in my opinion it will stay like that to the end, which could however be very soon, if you people down there go on destroying your own planet.

I hope you will enjoy it, and now I mean Oslo and all that.

See you later,

Your friend

H.C.A.

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.

  •