Friday, November 18, 2011
Who Reads My Books: Chris Haringa
I am Dutch, 65 years of age and what Neal would call a ‘stinking old hippy’. I read heaps and heaps of SF until I was 20-something, then suddenly had enough, and never touched the stuff again apart from some fantasy. I studied chemistry without realizing what I was in for, then after half a year I found out, and dropped out. Since then I’ve worked as a labourer, factory worker, white van driver, salesman in a DIY shop, and a patient transporter for a hospital, but spent at least half of the time not doing shit but talk with me mates stoned out of my mind….
I got married in the UK to an English lady somewhere along the line and, when our first son was due to arrive, decided it was time to take life seriously. I went to a state subsidised school to become a carpenter, again without a clue what it meant to be a carpenter in everyday life. So there I was at 7 in the morning amongst my fellow carpenters, who could only talk about sex, cars and sports, which made me feel kind of lonely…but I was a responsible person now so had to hold on. I did so for 3 years until one November morning – zero degrees above zero, 7 in the morning, a touch of flu but not enough to call in sick, me standing on a ladder in the door opening of a vast building screwing in a rail to hold up big sliding doors, with wind howling past me. I felt so desperate I started to pray ( never saw a church from the inside hahaha), ‘Please dear god help me out of here, can’t stand it anymore!’ At that moment one of my co-workers came up to me and said, ‘Chris please step down from the ladder, I have something to tell you.’ So I did, and when I reached the ground he talked to me for a bit and then suddenly pushed me in the chest because he saw the big metal ladder being blown over by the wind and coming in our direction. It hit me on the big toe and broke it in two places, and would have smashed my head to bits if he would not have pushed me….
So there I was with my foot in plaster, right next to the heater being served nice cups of tea by my lovely wife… and I never went back. My next job was as an EEG/EMG technician in a general hospital. I went to evening classes for that for two years, and kept the job for ten years. Nice and warm inside the hospital, friendly people, but I got bored and, because the Misses was English and kind of homesick, we decided to give it a go and try to make a living in GB. So off we went with our, by that time with 5 kids, to a winter let in the Cotswolds.
We had a good friend there: a very successful graphic designer who promised us to set up a business together, but he failed to do so because his marriage sort of exploded. The only work available at that time was carpentry again, for much less money than I would have made doing the same in Holland. And apart from that I’d done that, seen that. So back to the Netherlands again where an old friend told me that a local comprehensive school, close to where I lived, needed a teacher to take care of the practical part of the physics lessons. To be honest I don’t think they would have hired me was it not for the fact that one of my closest friends was on the board of directors at that time…
So that’s what I did for the last 25 years and now, being 65 and all, the big holiday has started! Met Mr Asher and his wife in Greece a couple of years ago, didn’t know he was a writer at first, pleasant people to talk to over a pint or a glass of wine (contrary of what one would expect reading his blog….hahaha) One day he told me to read one of his books, but I had my doubts not being interested in SF anymore (I prefer modern American literature like John Irving, Tom Wolfe, Donna Tart and the like) but thought, whatever, I’ll give it a go. After a few chapters of Gridlinked I thought that I made the right decision a long time ago, enough SF, but I felt I should finish the book. The funny thing was that although I was not interested at all in the story, the writer managed to grab my attention so I turned a page and another page until I realized I had a page turner in my hands, well done Mister Asher!