Monday, January 2, 2012

Tadeusz Menert

Dear Ted,

A brief story and something you might have remembered... Many years ago, when I lived in Kensington two Poles crashed a party in our flat. It was a busy flat, Heidi, Trisha, Peter, Scott, Rob, Belinda and myself and nobody knew these strange Poles or where they came from or how, even,  they’d managed to find the party -which was in a grotty basement flat in Holland Park Road- at night and with the curtains closed. The party was a good one and next morning you were still there crashed out on the floor when we all woke up. And after breakfast which, without asking, you made for everyone and which is when we all started ask each other who the hell you were,  you both sort of got assimilated into the fun and ended up moving in, sort of.
The flat was small, two bedrooms, walk through kitchen and a lounge and an ice cold damp bathroom. Heidi, sometimes Trish, and Peter had the big bedroom, Scot and Belinda the smaller bedroom, Rob I seem to remember didn’t really live anywhere fixed, usually in the lounge when Trish wasn’t in there otherwise wherever he fancied. I was living in the walk in wardrobe exactly the size of a double bed, and because there was no room for you and Pole No.2, Trish, who was living in the lounge at the time moved into the wardrobe with me leaving you the lounge.  I never did thank you for that.
As I remember you stayed for ages whilst waiting for a response from some government agency or other. We  had a meeting after a few days, you never knew this, because we thought there might be a risk of being raided on your account and most of us smoked weed at the time or had something illegal going on and they were strange times even in London, but  we all moved our stashes out into the garden, stopped behaving illegally for the most part  and despite your despicable habit of wearing grey v-necked pullovers, voted unanimously for you  to stay, you were such great company and seemingly in need of some friends.
I wish I could remember your friend’s name, but he didn’t speak English much so communication was limited but either way you and friend were both political refugees seeking asylum for things you wrote (or did, I think, in your friend’s case). In the brief time you were in London we became good friends, friendships at that time were serious business, and I remember some great and rather strange times together especially repeatedly jumping off the top of Silbury hill. And though I haven’t seen you for almost 30 years I don’t think it really matters, I still consider you a friend and one I’ve always desperately wanted to hear from again just to know how you were and what you were doing and whether you’d made a good life for yourself.
You’d been told if you actually got asylum that you’d probably have to change identity and I remember a lot of manly hugs and backslapping to cover up tears both of happiness and sadness when you told us you’d been granted asylum in the US and would be leaving. I gave you my parents’ address but never heard from you and you gave me  a slip of paper with your friend Katerina’s(?) address on it but you never heard from me either; it’s easy to lose slips of paper. Of course you couldn’t give an address in the US because you still didn’t know where you’d be going and so more or less you just... disappeared. That was back in the day when finding people was almost impossible, especially in the states and especially for someone living in Europe. And anyway, we all thought you’d have changed your name and disappeared into anonymity.
The flat was glum after you’d gone and nobody else occupied the lounge to replace you and eventually everyone went their separate ways. I’ve lost contact with everybody now, Peter went back to Spain, the girls shacked up with various blokes, I went to Italy, but I’m pretty sure all of us remember you in the same way.
When I moved to Italy and got a computer and internet I searched for you many times, and kept doing so as the technology got better and better over the next 20 odd years. I never had any luck though. We all knew you as TED not TAD but I  still knew there was an ‘a’ in your name but thought Tadeus same as a German friend of mine and drew  blank after blank in my searches and I’m not that hot on the computer anyway as you might have guessed.  It’s been a few years since I last tried and now with all the improvements in computers and facebook and all the online details now available and the habits of blogging and twittering etc. I thought I’d give finding you another damn good try. As it turns out you came up straight away. First hit.  I write Tadeus Menert and up comes ‘maybe you meant... Tadeusz Menert’ only 1 in the US and blow me if I didn’t come across an article published by a guy with, sort of,  your name in 1988. And bam! there’s a photo of you, smiling the same mustache-laden  smile  still with a v-neck pullover and looking happy with your wife and son. I found you. After all this time I found you! In the USA! You made it!!! The whole family too and without having to change identity!! I’m really happy for you
So next step, find an e-mail for you, which shouldn’t be a problem now I knew your name like wot it should be wrote. But the very next hit on Google I find an obit for you. Oh dear God an Obit. 17 months too bloody late. How horrible. I always hoped to meet up with you again. Now what? Now nothing. A story with a lively beginning, an invisible middle and a shockingly abrupt end late in the night accompanied by the whirr of an ageing computer and a click of a mouse button. Shit. I’m sorry I missed you.
So I’m not sure where I‘m going with this. There's a lot I would have liked to know about your life but how do you condense the questions of a life into a page on a blog and anyway why would you want to, blogs don't answer back and besides  there’s a high risk of getting sentimental and tasteless. So I’ll stop. I just wanted to mark your life in some small way. So that’s it. I’ve always sort of missed you (time mellow things out). It looks like you had a good life and I'm glad about that.  Bye old friend.
As an afterthought I dug out the photo of you mid-air above Silbury hill one of the funnest and weirdest days of my life. Perhaps adding a photo is tasteless,  could be, but I’ll put it up anyway. It’s my blog, my memory and my friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this letter to my brother Tad. I followed tad to the US from Poland in late eithties. Tad was a wonderful person and we all miss him very much. Your shared memories mean a lot to me. I hope you are well and happy, but I do not even know your name. I think the Pole No.2 was me, his brother Tom. If you get this message, please get in touch if you do not mind. My email is: Take care. Tom menert