When the DHL driver called in to deliver a parcel today, he must have been intrigued by the two hunched figures sitting by my table. I was one of them, and I was reading from an nineteenth-century edition of Wagner's poetry in Gothic script. The other one was our bearded editor Christian. I read numbers and he typed them up at the beginning of lines, querying from time to time bits of German. The spy-like exchange went something like:
AG: "Three, two, three, four, two, four, five, two, six, one, three, three, three—"
Christian: "Sie helfen?"
AG: "Yeah, three, three, four, five, two, two, six, six, five, three, four—"
Christian: "Wohl willst du?"
AG: "Yeah, why are we doing this?"
Christian: "I don't know. It's Wagner. The weirdest job we've ever done."
We spent a couple of hours like this, going through the libretto of Parsifal and making sure that every line was indented accurately, according to the ten levels of indentation devised by Wagner to reflect—
AG: "Bullshit. This is all random."
At that point, the DHL driver, shaking his head, asked me to sign something, before rushing back to the door for dear life.
Now I now why all Wagnerians are a bit mad. Gary – do you hear me?
Have a good weekend.