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If you’re a Lifelover you know how to enjoy everything that life has to offer. You welcome the smallest delights as enthusiastically as the greatest of pleasures. And you enjoy sharing them, because life is a journey that can’t be enjoyed alone. That’s how we think at Camper, a footwear brand born in the Mediterranean and inspired to create a different way of walking through life.
Our third edition of the LIFELOVERS ABC was written to share this way of thinking with you. Our philosophy is summed up in 25 concepts, crafted with the help of some extraordinary spokespeople who offer new, different and unexpected points of view. The images in our latest edition were taken by Martin Parr, a creator of a new form of documentary photographic genre, each conveying his deeply personal view of the way we live our daily lives.
Martin is joined by four additional Lifelovers. Fernando Savater, a philosopher renowned for his ethical outlook, shares our spirited defence of imagination. Barry Gifford, one of the great names of the Beat Generation, drafts his lively discovery of music. Isabel Coixet, a unique and hard-hitting filmmaker, describes a natural moment of pleasure. And the leading crime novelist, Donna Leon, a passionate Venetian by adoption, illustrates what we regard as the very essence of Camper: walking as a way of life, of living in the moment.
So as we continue on our journey we really hope you enjoy this latest edition as much as we do.
Some people are well-organized; the sensible folk who by Friday morning – maybe even by Thursday – have booked a table for Sunday, knowing how busy restaurants get on seaside Sundays.
The rest of us just take it as it comes; always waking up late, head in the clouds, it never strikes us that we should book. So one fine day, at two in the afternoon, we turn up at the place where we’d planned to eat and have a swim because they have a pool – and we stand about with as much chance of getting to the nearest beach as we do of getting to the Maldives – only to find that it is full to the rafters with prudent, sensible Dutch families who have cornered all the tables, the lawn and the pool.
The owner regards us with a mixture of sly satisfaction and barely-disguised annoyance: “You have to be kidding! No-one in their right mind would turn up at this time without a booking.
We’re packed!”. Downcast, hungry, sweating profusely, we traipse away, trailing our towels. We try the place next door – no pool now, no lawns – full of sensible families, where we get the same answer, though this time tinged with pity: “You’re not likely to find anything today”. Panic is setting in. “So what now?”, “I’m getting hungry!”, “If I don’t have a swim I’ll just die!” announces the most histrionic member of our little group. Someone remembers there’s a lake not far away. Then the doom-mongers weigh in: “I bet it’ll be packed”, “There’s nowhere to eat”, “I think lakes are gross. People drown and are never found”. Since it’s far too hot to fight any suggestion at all, we end up going to the lake, resigned to having a plastic sandwich at a filling station, maybe even some peanuts.
It’s about three o’clock now, and the temperature’s up into the hundreds. The lake is just as we remembered it, dark blue and emerald green, surrounded by nothing but incredibly lush vegetation, not a new building in sight; a fussy little jetty on either side. The gentle breeze through the elms sets their leaves rustling. And there’s practically no-one there. Parking is no problem. We get out of the car. “Wow! No-one here!”, “This hasn’t changed a bit since I used to come with my parents”, “I’ve just spotted a little bar with a diving-board over there”. We head for the bar, where insipid songs are blaring from the radio. Practically empty. Showers and clean changing-rooms.
They charge us two euros forty per head, and we sit down. We order sausage baguettes, anchovy baguettes, crisps, stuffed olives, beers, Cokes. Maybe because we’re hungry, everything tastes superb. The bread’s excellent. Coffees. “Are we going for a swim or what?”. “Come on then”. We dive into the lake, swim; it smells of mud, of seaweed, of river, of days gone by, of somewhere else. The light changes, the sun disappears behind huge clouds, and far away a storm seems to be brewing. Suddenly the water and the vegetation have changed colour: now there are a thousand shades of blue and green, a fascinating blend of Turner and Martin Parr. Exhausted, we sit at the table eating ice-creams, gazing at the sky and the lake. Now half the lake is in bright sunlight, and the other half totally in the shade.
Someone says: “If they could just switch off the radio, wouldn’t it be perfect?”. But the radio stays on, and we’re tacitly glad, because deep down we would be scared by so much perfection, so much happiness, on a Sunday afternoon at the lake.
Isabel Coixet. Filmmaker. Isabel made her earliest films with the 8 mm movie camera she was given at her First Communion. Her first commercial film “Too Old to Die Young” (1988) earned her a Goya nomination for Best New Director. Following this, her first film in English “Things I never told you”, won a Goya nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 1996. She achieved international success in 2003 with “My Life Without Me”, followed by “The Secret Life of Words” in 2005. That same year, Coixet worked with 18 other international film directors on the anthology film “Paris, je t’aime”, which explored different Paris arrondissements. In 2009, she was awarded the Gold Medal in the Fine Arts for her film “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo”. Two years later, in 2011, she made “Listening to judge Garzón”, a documentary film interview between Judge Baltasar Garzón and the writer Manuel Rivas.
Several decades ago, Erich Fromm – one of the most influential thinkers of the last century – was eloquent in his insistence that enjoying life means enlarging the scope of what we are, rather than increasing the amount of what we have. It is a maxim that, unlike many others, deserves never to be forgotten. And I would go even further: nothing multiplies the scope of what we are more than giving free rein to our imagination.
There is much talk today of virtual reality, and perhaps we forget that this is something man has always known. Our imagination is the greatest existing source of virtual reality. Shakespeare stressed this in his last play, “The Tempest”: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”. In other words, we are not imaginary beings, but we are imagining beings. But we should make clear that imagination does something more than just dream: it also plans, invents, decides, proposes and defends alternatives to the everyday routine. Imagination advocates the possible, however new or difficult it may be, over the merely probable. It rebels against what is seen as inevitable, pinpointing the cracks in the wall through which we can glimpse what is different, what is unusual: the invigorating freshness of the unexpected.
Imagination has been described as “the madwoman of the house”, the great disrupter of the comfortable mental home in which we live. But it is that portion of useful, liberating madness that prevents us from becoming slaves of the real dementia, the madness of believing that the only possible life is the one that consists in repeating the life that has already been. Thanks to our imagination, we can invent ourselves again and again, explore the nooks and crannies of the landscape we know least, where our most precious treasures lie hidden: the map of our inner being, vast and secret.
It is often assumed that to enjoy your imagination you have to be a poet or an artist, but that is not so. We live on our imagination – and thanks to our imagination – every time we set out on a journey, even on the Underground; whenever we tell a neat joke, or find a kind word for someone in trouble; when we fight for our children’s future, or embark unperturbed on the dramatic adventure of growing old; when we face every new day with daily bravery. For a person with imagination, life is never black and white, it’s always in exciting technicolour: and what we call “boredom” is no more than a fleeting short-circuit that cuts off, for a moment, our happy imaginings…
Fernando Savater. Philosopher
Born in San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa (1947). Doctor of Philosophy. Formerly Professor of Ethics at the University of the Basque Country, Savater is now Professor of Philosophy at Madrid’s Complutense University. He has written over 50 books, including philosophical, political and literary essays, novels and plays. In 1982, he won the National Prize for Literature (Essay Category) for “The Task of the Hero”. His best-known works, such as “Ethics for Amador”, are essays in popular philosophy.
Savater’s novel “The Brotherhood of Good Luck” won the Planeta literary prize in 2008, and “The Guests of the Princess” was awarded the Primavera Prize in 2012. He is a regular contributor to the Spanish newspaper “El País” and other publications, and is currently editor of the magazine “Claves de razón práctica”. He holds honorary doctorates from various universities across Spain, Europe and America, and has a number of decorations including the Spanish Order of Constitutional Merit.
The first record Roy ever bought was a 45 rpm single of Little Richard singing “Good Golly, Miss Molly”, when he was nine years old. Later the same year, 1956, he bought his first LP, the soundtrack album of the movie “The Man with the Golden Arm”, which featured Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne, Conte and Pete Candoli, and other jazz musicians. Neither of these recordings were examples of the kind of music his mother and grandmother played on the piano and often sang; those tunes were standards and popular songs like “La vie en rose”, “Satan Takes a Holiday” and “It Had to Be You”. Roy liked those songs but as soon as he heard Little Richard banging out on the piano the first few chords of “Lucille” and screeching the lyrics, followed by “Good Golly, Miss Molly”, “Tutti Frutti” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’”, he knew there was another world beyond “Autumn Leaves” or “If I Didn’t Care” and he was crazy to find out about it.
There was a guy named Gin Bottle Sam who showed up now and again on Blackhawk Avenue sitting on a metal milk bottle crate playing his harmonica for change, which appreciative passersby tossed into an upside down short-brimmed hat Sam kept by his feet on the sidewalk in front of him. Roy had stopped to listen to Sam a couple of times and the next time he saw him Roy asked Sam what kind of music it was that he was playing.
“Blues, mostly,” he said. “Might put a little pep into a pop’lar tune peoples knowin’, somethin’ more famil’ar make ’em give up a few extry pennies”.
It was an afternoon in mid-November when Roy asked Gin Bottle Sam about his music. The sky was gray-brown and full of Black specks, so Roy knew it was about to snow. Sam warmed himself with a swig from a half-pint bottle he kept in a side pocket of his long blue overcoat. Roy’s friend the Viper, who was two years older, had told him Sam’s name, but Roy noticed that the liquid in the bottle Sam was sipping from on this particular day was dark brown, not clear like gin.
“Fo’ zample, tune I just been playin’s ‘Sportin’ Life,’ wrote by Brownie McGhee. Fixin’ now to do ‘Long Distance’ by Muddy Waters, real name McKinley Morganfield. Like me, he come up to Chicago from Miss’ippi make his bones. He the man invented rock an’ roll, you best believe”. Sam slipped the bottle back into his overcoat pocket and began to sing.
“You say you love me, darlin’, please call me on the phone sometime. You say you love me, darlin’, please call me on the phone sometime. Give me a call, ease my worried mind”.
Roy listened closely as Sam breathed in and out on his harmonica. A couple of pedestrians pitched a dime or a quarter into the short brim. When Sam finished the song, Roy asked him, “Is it called the blues because you blew into the harmonica?”. “Well, no. It’s all up in the feelin’, though you do got to blow to make it happen. Don’t need to be a reg’lar instrument you got to blow into, though. Can be hands beatin’ on a log, or dogs howlin’ with chains fix roun’ they neck. Men, too, you best believe”.
Roy only had a nickel on him but he put it into Sam’s hat. Sam tooted twice on his harmonica, then chuckled and picked up the change he had earned. He was wearing red and green cotton gloves with the fingertips cut off. Sam rattled the coins in his left hand and grinned at Roy. Several of his teeth were missing and he had blood spots in the whites of his eyes. “You got to listen, boy”, he said. “You got to study on what it is you hearin’ an’ maybe one time you begin to understand”. Sam stood up and dropped the coins into the left side pocket of his overcoat. He put the harmonica into the other pocket, then shook Roy’s right hand with his own.
“Thanks for talking to me”, said Roy. “I was an orphan”, Sam said. “You know what’s an orphan?”
“Was no good for me where I been put, so I was about your size I took out for my own self.
And here now you askin’ me questions. Ain’t that good news”. The next morning Roy told the Viper about his conversation with Gin Bottle Sam. They were walking by the canal that cut through the neighborhood and the sky was already darker than it had been the previous afternoon. There had not yet been any precipitation but a heavy snow was predicted to arrive by evening.
“What do you think Sam meant by beating on logs and dogs howling with chains around their necks?” asked Roy. “Slaves in the South would sing while they picked cotton and chopped wood”, said the Viper. “Makin’ music while they worked made ’em feel better”. “Do you know who Muddy Waters is?”
“Yeah, he worked on a plantation where he was discovered, then he came to Chicago to make records”.
“Sam says he’s the one who invented rock ’n’ roll”. The Viper laughed.
“What’s so funny?” “Whenever I play a record by little Richard or Elvis Presley”, said the Viper, “my mother shouts, “What´s all that poundin´and howlin´about?”
Barry Gifford, born in 1946, is an internationally-renowned novelist, poet, and screenwriter. Among his best-known works are the novels and films “Wild at Heart” and “Lost Highway”, both directed by David Lynch. His novel “Perdita Durango” was made into a feature film by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia in 1997, and he also co-wrote with Matt Dillon the film “City of Ghosts” (2003).His most recent books include “Sad Stories of the Death of Kings” and “Sailor and Lula: The Complete Novels”. Gifford’s novels have been translated into twenty-eight languages and he has received awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation.
I didn’t learn how to walk until I was more than fifty. The other kind of walking, the sort we all depend on for getting from here to there, I learned when I was a baby and have been doing ever since; indeed, I have no memory of a time when I did not walk. And like most people, I remember running and falling and hopping and the joy of putting on my sneakers again with the arrival of springtime.
I walked; sure, I walked: to get to school, to go and buy comic books at the shop down in town, across the campus at university to get to the library, through the museums in New York, and then Rome and Florence and Venice. But that walking, as is true of most of the walking people do, was meant specifically to take me from one determined place to another. It had a practical purpose, usually to get me somewhere so that I could do or get something while there.
But walking, at least the sort of walking that people mean when they talk about “walking” - I knew little of that before I was fifty and was introduced to the Alps. During the decades I’d lived in Europe, I’d often been in the Swiss Alps, but I always saw them from behind the window of an automobile or a cable car or a PostBus. It was not until the mid-nineties that I began to spend a good deal of my summers in a small farming village in the Engadin, not far from the Italian border. There are old farmhouses from the seventeenth century, there are about three hundred people, and there are as many cows.
The cows, for whom I confess a special fondness, live up on the Alps in the summer, and to go and see them, or to go and see the alpine flowers, or the marmots, or the remaining snow, or take advantage of the endless paths that run for hundreds of kilometers across the mountains, one has go put on hiking boots and walk. The system of PostBus will take a walker to a setting-off point up at two thousand meters, even higher, where it is cold even in the middle of August, at least in the forests, but once the PostBus pulls away, all that remains are feet and legs. And there begins the joyous freedom of not having to go anywhere specific. The map shows the route from A to B, but if halfway along, a person wants to take a smaller path, or a larger, turn and head back towards Italy, or stop at a shelter for a sandwich and a drink of water, there is no reason not to do so because there’s no destination, only the joy of walking in the open, under the sky.
This is a part of Switzerland with few tourists, so it is possible to walk for six hours and meet only cows, hear only their bells or the calling of the marmots or the birds, to see the vultures with the famous two-meter-wide wingspread. People in this region have seen wolves, and two years ago there was a bear, gone now.
There is, most beautiful of all, silence: only the other animals are up there with us two-legged animals; there is the wind, sometimes the rain, a waterfall or a stream. But for the rest, the planet could be empty, you the only person on its face. Around you, there is air that seems filled with energy, the natural green grey green of the rocky mountains, the sky, clouds, trees.
Just as there is no destination, here is no time limit save that of darkness. Walk till you’re tired, then stop, eat, drink, look around at grass-covered pastures, listen to the water. Or stop at one of the mountain huts for barley soup, bread, and butter from those soft-eyed cows. Near the huts, the occasional cat or dog will trail along for a while, then turn back towards home.
When the light starts to weaken, it’s best to check the map and head down towards the road: walking downhill, the whole body has to shift around to this new arrangement of weight and thrust, but what a relief it is after hours of up, up, up. The PostBus will come along sooner or later, or a car will offer a ride. Then, soon after, comes a weariness of leg and shoulder, an exhilarating exhaustion that comes from walking in high altitudes. And then, back home, there is tea, perhaps a piece of cake, and then an hour in the garden, just being there, sitting, looking up at those same mountains but now with the ease of quiet and rest and no more walking until the next day. Tomorrow, a different path, a different Alp, white cows instead of brown, but still with no destination and no purpose save peace and beauty and joy.
Donna Leon. Writer. Born in 1942 in New Jersey, she left America in 1965 to complete her studies in Perugia and Sienna (Italy). Donna opted to stay on in Europe, working as a tour guide in Rome, an advertising copywriter in London, and a teacher at various American schools in Europe and Asia. Her novels featuring Commissario Brunetti include “Death at La Fenice” (1992), which was awarded the prestigious Suntory Prize for best crime novel; “Friends in High Places” (2000), winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction; “A Question of Belief” (2010) and “Drawing Conclusions” (2011). She has also written several books of essays, as well as the foreword to the unusual guidebook Brunetti’s Venice: “Walks through the Novels” (2008). Her books, translated into twenty-six languages including Chinese, have received immense critical acclaim, and have become bestsellers throughout Europe and in America. She has lived in Venice since 1981.