Tuesday 15 November 2016

Talking Cricket with the Giant

The other day I learnt that the world record for session-drinking - one not recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, despite its branding - is held by the gigantic pro wrestler (and occasional film actor) André the Giant. André (né André René Roussimoff) was reported to have downed 156 beers (each of 16 US fl oz/ 470ml) in one sitting, and he came close to that figure on several other occasions. But André also has his place among the lesser footnotes of literary history...
  In the 1950s, Samuel Beckett bought a plot of land in a hamlet northeast of Paris, where he built a small house with the help of a local called Boris Roussimoff, who became a friend and card-playing partner. Boris was André's father, and by the time André was 12 he had already grown too big to be taken to school on the school bus. Beckett volunteered to drive the young giant to school in his truck, and did so daily for some while.
 What did the great writer and the young wrestler-to-be talk about in these surreal scenarios? According to Boris, they talked almost entirely of cricket (Beckett is famously the only Nobel literature laureate to have featured in Wisden). Some, however, have imagined other conversations between the two...

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