Last Wednesday, the Prince Claus Awards for culture were presented in Amsterdam at a lavish ceremony attended by the Dutch royal family, leading politicians and sundry plebs like myself. I was there because I’d translated most of the speeches. Hearing them read is a curious sensation: the content belongs to the original authors; the words are mine. It’s a bit like dressing up in someone else’s clothes: strange and slightly sexy.
One of the Awards went to the Chinese fashion designer Ma Ke. Her work is based on the Zen-like notion that clothes are imbued with memory. I agree with her entirely, although my experience is rather more along the lines of “If this frock could talk, I’d really rather it didn’t!”