I once got talking to this rather odd man on a train between Rome and Berlin. I say ‘odd’ because he just started telling me a story about how there was this group of philosophers at Cambridge back in the 1930’s who called themselves the ‘Irrationalists’.
He boarded at Leipzig.
He told me with a sincerity and passion that said this was genuine – how they were infamous for many years, post second World War, because of their unconventional methodology.
A hard cover text book burned in fueled orange flames upon the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof (platform number 21 it was).
Nobody seemed to care or notice in their scurrying.
Each year at the office Christmas party they would play a prank on another philosopher from the Mainstream School based out of their purpose-built six level geodesic dome headquarters at the esteemed Cambridge University Philosophy Department.
The stranger explained that their “maverick approach” had for many long years seen them relegated to a basement janitors room to gather and discuss their ideas.
At this point I could ascertain that Rudy felt quite confident that he had my interest in his quite bizarre little anecdote of these maverick philosophers of history.
He spoke in a heavy Russian accent but yet his physical appearance suggested a large Greek man whom I had seen strolling through Hampstead Heath in London in August of 1993.
He carried no baggage.
He introduced himself with a bone crushing hand shake and a deep baritone aroma that shone of charisma and charm usually only known to the Gypsy travellers of Romany.
His said his name was Rudy.
This guy said even the janitor was actually inducted into their society after a short period as it suited their haircuts.
They had been condemned for three long years to below standard and poor quality utilities and services.
Xrays in Hamburg later confirmed a fractured metacarpal of the right hand.
They suffered the humiliation of having no option but the flimsy folding chairs in the cold and draughty corridor leading down to the basement.
I don’t recall much else about Rudy and his strange story.
The reason this twenty three year old story came to my mind two days ago is that I saw Rudy in the local municipal library.
He was the Assistant to The Chief Librarian I had seen neatly embroidered on his shirt pocket when I had accidentally unloaded his laundry at the Happy Bachelor Coin Laundry two weeks earlier.
He had not aged a single day.
Little seems to remain of this avant garde Society of intellectuals or their existence. Rudy made me wonder about a coverup conspiracy but I’m not so sure.
I had only then recently read in The Dortmund Fisherman’s Gazette about the ‘The Real truth Behind Youthful Miscreant Obsessions Today!” I have long since wondered though on their intentional non-capitalisation of the word ‘truth’ in that so-called ‘gazette’. None of my correspondence was ever answered.
In June, 2005 I was lucky enough to win the football raffle. but also came across a reference in an encyclopedia I was browsing once at the local municipal library that made mention of “a little-known group of unpopular and sometimes uncomfortable philosophers based at Cambridge University in the late 1940’s…..” the next page had been ripped out as if on purpose.
That encyclopedia had been beautifully printed and bound in Cleveland, Ohio in 1953 by Standard Reference Work Publishing Co.
Rudy and his story were a real highlight of my train ride from Rome to Berlin.
It did make me feel a new and unfettered respect for the dignity of those less popular philosophers who are often forced into the awful humiliation of sitting on cheap folding chairs in draughty corridors.
How can they be expected to come up with award winning philosophical arguments and cutting edge theories when they can’t even get comfortable seating?
It’s time for change.
I find these days I get my ideas from television and the next door neighbor more then ever before, and I’ve avoided speaking with strangers on public transport.
My neighbors name is Dave.