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Bēhance

Everything I know about Alfons

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  • Everything I know about Alfons
    I met Alfons outside his house in Jachymov in the Czech Republic whilst doing a documentary project on post-industrial towns. He was an animated character and wanted to pose for a photograph. He invited me in for a drink, and though we shared no common language we seemed to strike up a rapport. I promised I would return the following day with a Czech speaking friend.
  • No, no no, Alfons can’t see us today. He remembers me from yesterday,me with the camera. But he can’t talk now, he has too much to do today. He hasto move the pile of wood in front of the house. The policeman has warned himabout it.
     
    Ok, Ok, Ok then, we can come in. But only forone drink. There’s the pile of wood to move…
     
    We start with a toast – na zdraví kamarádství
     
    …he tells us of his life…
     
    …he was born 64 years ago, in this house.This crumbling house. He has lived all his life in this crumbling house. He canonly live in the downstairs now. He lives in one room, the kitchen. He isafraid when it rains. He has to get up in the night to empty the pots. He isafraid some day the roof will collapse …
     
     …hedoesn’t have it so bad though. Many here have it worse. The gypsies live indestroyed houses. They don’t have water, they don’t have heating. There are somany destroyed houses. But it wasn’t like this before. It wasn’t like thisunder communism. The politicians steal the money and there are so manydestroyed houses. And then the politicians try to get rid of the gypsies …
     
    …he can’t remember the name of the man whodrew his tattoos, but it was in prison. He was there for two years, in the 70s.He went to prison because he stole a gun. He liked shooting, and he stole aguns. They caught him and they put him in prison. One is the statue of liberty,one is a pirate galleon, one is the Union Jack and one is the Canadian Mapleleaf …
     
    …he worked as a bricklayer, but he hasn’tworked for a long time. Since before capitalism. He lost his job because ofdrinking. He would wake up early, get a big bag of beers, go to work and drinkwith his friends. But he drank too much and they sacked him. He likes drinkingbut it’s caused him much trouble. He has no job now. He is a pensioner. He gets5200 Kč per month. It’s never enough …
     
    …he was in the army in the 60s. He didn’tlike it and he got into lots of trouble. When he came there was lots of workfor bricklayers in the town. He met his wife and they were together for 30years. She died four years ago. He was running her a bath, she was sitting onthe couch when her heart stopped beating. And now she is in heaven with theother angels … 
     
    And we drink to her memory … na zdraví kamarádství.