643 Home, sweet home – part 4

Rotterdam

We’ve reached 1968 now, University finished, and the whole of the rest of my life to do something useful with. So I went back to what I did best, public libraries; and with one fairly short interruption I carried on doing that until 1992. All of that will appear in p. 331 for which I shall probably devise a witty title. How I ended up in Rotterdam will also appear there.

The Esperanto office (where I was working) saved me some bother by finding me a room to rent in Samuel Mullerplein, a fairly central location not too far from work and also nicely within walking distance of a couple of parks. I can remember a fair-sized room on the first floor at the corner of the building (so plenty of windows) and some kind of pleasant view. I wasn’t there too long however, as the landlady was a little too fond of setting rules. In particular, no food preparation and no washing of clothes.

I reckoned this would make life a bit difficult, and mentioned this at work during a coffee break. I was very surprised, as a result, to be offered a room above the office itself. In principle this was a double room so I had plenty of space for my stuff. There was a kitchen in the basement and a launderette nearby. These trivial details quite possibly changed my life. There were four other people living above the office; the boss Dr. Victor Sadler and his wife Gouri; the splendid Rob Moerbeek who did the post room and the library and all sorts of other things; and my immediate neighbour (next room to mine) Maria Frus. All of these people will appear in more detail in other places. This next room thing is important. It’s called “Propinquity , which is just a fancy word for nearness; but it has a psychological slant to it. Allow me a quote from someone’s else’s website, randomly turned up by Google:
“Here’s the rundown of some of the major reasons why two people fall in love: Propinquity — people in close physical proximity are more likely to become involved than people farther away; what psychologists call “repeated exposure” is a powerful inducement to romance. Similarity is also important: People who are like each other like each other. Then there’s “reciprocal liking” — knowing that the other person likes you makes you like them more. The other person’s desirability — appearance, personality — also obviously plays a role. And a final big one is “filling a need” — part of why we pursue love is that we need love and its attendant pleasures (sex, intimacy, closeness, children).

Well, I think that ticks all the boxes; working close together, living very close together – and the rest of it really doesn’t belong in a “Home, sweet home” page. All that was missing was a dash of “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

This was supplied when a married couple, Lawrence and Audrey Mee, came to work in the office, and needed the room I was occupying. As I remember they were quite apologetic about turfing me out, but in fact things turned out rather well. Office romances are best conducted off the premises.

My third and final address in Rotterdam was in the same road (Nieuwe Binnenweg) as the office but some way further out. It was a plain square room containing not much more than a bed and a sofa, with a shared shower and toilet nearby, and an alcove in the room containing a sink, where I set up a pair of hotplates. It was good enough for a person to sleep in, which was pretty much all I did there; though it was directly above a Greek restaurant, which did nothing to make me like Demis Roussos very much.

Not long after this the Sadlers moved out of the office and Maria took over their room on the top floor. We spent several increasingly friendly evenings slapping paint around and generally sprucing the room up. It was in this room that we eventually considered ourselves engaged; but that’s another story.

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