Who Is He When He is On Paper? Source of Wilde passion

Intro & Prose Piece

Who Is He When He Is on Paper?

Dear readers of my blog,

coming back to you now after having listened several times to the plug-in myself , I hope you do enjoy some of the infelicities of pronunciation inevitable as much as I do. For me, this experience – which is easily explained in terms of the automatic oral reproduction of the blog – called to mind many occasions when my second name was mispronounced in the English-speaking world. After some moments of irritation when I was young I started collecting them as precious moments of linguistic slips the speakers themselves were unaware of and which continued to amuse me as they accumulated over the years. One day I had enough of this perhaps because then I had finally started moving in circles where such things do not occur, so I decided to put pen to paper and wrote what after long gestation has now become a prose text. I am grateful to a Berlin novelist, now in retirement from the public, for suggesting to me to look back sine ira et studio, without anger and with care, that is, at about fifty such texts written over the last two decades and to make up my mind about which one could stand as a poem, while turning the others into prose pieces, which I also did for the following one.

My passion for Oscar Wilde also figures in it. In fact, I must say it was rooted in the experience recounted in this passage. The person I am indebted to for my own work on Wilde, however, has long since disappeared from literary discourse, nor have I heard anything from him for upwards of twenty years. I also would like to thank him in person for triggering my interest in Wilde. Whoever has made similar experiences with his or her patronym is free to share them here on this website.

Now I will not keep you any longer from reading my piece.

Who Is He When He’s on Paper?

Once named forever named. Not true.

Loads of nicknames to date tell a different story one with various facets though my second name is common enough anywhere between Copenhagen and Strasbourg.

Once nicknamed forever distinguished. True enough.

Ever heard of Radi Radenkovic Yugoslav goalie singing “Bin i Radi, bin i König” noted for his forays outside the penalty area? Neither had I when a schoolboy with the sad look behind when trying to emulate Radi’s local Bundesliga rival. Keen for an idol bearing my own name I asked my father was there a sporting namesake? Either he or his father recalled the brothers Rademacher winning a gold medal in water polo in 1928; that being abnormal I never took to them.

Once wrong on record forever amused. Quite so.

When some Scots people invented variant spellings or pronunciations medical assistants at Ninewells Hospital invariably swallowed or dropped the ‘ch while typists replaced the first ‘a’ with an ‘o’ or a ‘u’.

Once publicly honoured forever elated. It did not last.

When occasional teacher at Salem boarding-school I enjoyed cat-calls of “Riesen-Rettich” a concoction of height name and the winter variety of a white Bavarian root that goes with strong cheese and beer.

Once officially odd forever immune against irony. Not so.

One day I provoked a Wildean’s ire – who had sown his wild oats by pursuing the Joyce & Wilde link. As much hurt as wont to act the fool at others’ expense he boasted his name was printed in Finnegans Wake; not to be out-fooled by Fritz Senn who had observed the unnecessary rivalry took the Wake concordance and pointed out “Radmachrees” to him.

Once misspelt forever misspelt. Quite true.

The old spelling “Radermacher” brings to life our wheel making past whether it is “Rademaker” or “Radermaker” or even “Radermacker” the latter added in York.

Once misprinted forever misprinted. It’s too common!

A slip of the pen “Radebogen” on an invitation for Hallow’een reached us at “52 Inselbogen” island crescent that is; the acknowledgement of one “Rademarcher” in a thesis styles me an untiring walker on Birkenstocks in South London parks; the missing ‘r’ in “Ademacher” allowed me to pick up print orders for a set of images taken in England while “Radémashé” as pronounced in French makes me a person munching wheels.

Münster, 18 & 20 June 2000, added to in May 2018


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