Author: Rahla Xenopoulos
Publisher: The Penguin Group (South Africa)
Cape Town, South Africa 2012
ISBN 9780143530169 / ISBN 978-0-14-353016-9
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 238 pages
The story of Bubbles Schroeder, who ended up strangled in the age of 18 in 1949, is the matrix to Rahla Xenopoulos' novel: Barry Schwartz told me this story, it might not even be true because he was rather tippled when he told it. It goes like this: when Picasso was born, he refused to breathe, so the doctor flipped the baby genius upside down and, well, the baby genius just refused to do that screaming gulping for air thing common to all living babies who choose to come into this world. So the doctor, the midwife, the nurse, the mother and the father all left Picasso for dead. All except an uncle, who leaned over the baby and belched a great puff of Spanish cigar smoke over his face and the little baby screamed to life. Well, when I heard that story I just got to thinking about my own birth, I got to imagining all that must have happened in the winter of 1931 in the small South African mining town of Lichtenburg. I can't imagine that there would have been many people around. No nurses or midwives. My Aunt Freda called Dr Snyman, he was the local doctor, and he probably shuffled over to the lower end of town where she and my mother lived. No doubt as he walked into the house a foul smell greeted him. A foul smell was the first impression people got of our house because they always came in through the kitchen door, youunderstand. Nobody came through the front door, not unless there was a telegram and we only ever received telegrams twice in my entire life.