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Flesh and blood

Everyone is sitting at home. So are most criminals. You notice this especially digitally. Six months ago, the flood of spam came in: from brazen to almost touching extortion attempts, the abstract poetry of automatically translated alarm messages and clumsy angling for bank details.

I am not so afraid of that kind of message. I am a poet. I am already used to reading under Martinus Nijhoff's famous motto: 'Just read, it doesn't say what it says.' What it does say should be distrusted in every possible way, because only that reading attitude can bring a reader to the wonder of poetry - and keep them out of the clutches of cybercriminals. Besides, I am fifty. I'm not sure if that age has anything to do with it, but I live much more in the tangible world than someone of 25. I've yet to see all that stuff we now walk around looking at, pressing and rubbing on the goddamn day. Of course, in the real world there is a second, virtual reality, so multiform, intricate, deep and ramified that you hardly get around to real life when you dive in, but I generally take that second world just a little less seriously. Unlike the first reality, I can turn it off, even though I do so too infrequently. And even though I know that even in the second reality you can do all kinds of things with serious consequences in the first, I always have to see it.

All the more stupid is what happened to me this week: there was a mechanic at the door who was behaving somewhat strangely afterwards. The strangest thing was that he pretty much stood with his nose against the front door when I opened. Since March this year, nobody does that anymore. Anyone who needs something from you rings the bell and then recoils a metre and a half. Some roll out a mat to make sure they don't accidentally stand too close.

This young man reported that he needed to take a look at the water meter on behalf of Vitens. Now it is in our hall, so he was able to enter the crawl space. He reappeared, thanked me kindly and left.

'This is not right,' my wife said, and she hit the phone. Of course she was right: at Vitens they knew nothing. I had totally unwittingly let in a crook who cheerfully came to check our locks and what we could get. By his excuse, he had happened to get no further than a hall with an idiot in it who is prepared to believe any cockamamie excuse as long as it is told by someone of flesh and blood.

Ingmar Heytze

Born 1970 in Utrecht. Poet. First house philosopher of the Centraal Museum (1999-2000) and first city poet of Utrecht (2009-2011). Wrote anti-sports columns for the Volkskrant for two years and columns for the (AD) Utrechts Nieuwsblad for twenty years. Currently works for Onze Taal. Wrote some fifteen books of poetry and is always working on new work. Won the C.C.S. Croneprijs in 2008 for his entire oeuvre and received the Maartenspenning of the city of Utrecht in 2016.View Author posts

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