On Writing “The First Waltz”

This is a 2014 conversation (over 6 minutes long) with Patrick about how he came to write the story The First Waltz which I posted a while ago. The story is about Richard Hull, who translated all 20 volumes of Carl Jung’s work, and the women in Hull’s life.

Patrick tells JP and Christine about Richard Hull’s life.

PM: There’s this guy… you’ve heard of Jung?

JP: Carl Jung?

PM: Yes.

There’s a young guy named Richard Hull who wanted to translate Jung’s work from German into English, okay, so he was a pretty good friend of a famous philosopher who had studied with Herbert Read, who knew Jung.

So he [Hull] went to Switzerland to meet Jung, recommended by Herbert Read. He got there and they liked each other, then Richard was stricken with polio and paralyzed.

So he’s in the hospital and the nurse is a Danish girl named Beatrice, or Bea. They fell in love….

JP: Jung and Bea or Richard and Bea?

PM: Richard and Bea.

JP: The patient and nurse.

PM: So they moved to Mallorca together and she took care of him. Jung gave him the job. Richard spent the next 20 years typing on an electric typewriter and translated all 20 volumes of Jung’s work.

But… I skipped a part that I forgot.

He went there with his girlfriend to meet Jung and when he was paralyzed, she just walked out of the hospital and left him and went back to England.

CR: That’s the way he tells the story, right? That was before the nurse.

PM: Yes, before the nurse. So now he’s been 20 years translating and living in this place, and somehow has two children by Bea. One is an actor and has a theater group and so on, and the other, the girl is very nice, but I forget what she does.

So… this girl that walked out on him in the hospital, her husband died in New York, and she was in her sixties, and sent him a letter. In a wheelchair he [Hull] went to New York. He left Bea.

CR: Really?

PM: After all those years he went to New York and she’s … his girlfriend’s also in a wheelchair. They live in an apartment across the street from the U.N. where she’s been working all these years. And so they both have to get their wheelchairs into the elevators and all of this….

CR: You’re kidding, what an interesting story!

JP: It’s not over yet!

CR: Was she in a wheelchair when they were [in Switzerland?]

PM: No.

So that didn’t work out too well, so he came back, and Bea took him back.

CR: Wow. He must be a very interesting man.

PM: Yeah. So I call this one “The First Waltz,” because this guy was a real stutterer, and also ‘spastic’ and in a wheelchair, and eating was a problem, food over his shoulder. But he was great, a very interesting.

So one night I’m there and he says — we’re talking about music — he says, ‘The-the-the First Waltz, let me play it for you.” It’s from a baroque opera, I forget the name of it now. Anyway, it’s not really a waltz, it’s — never mind.

Anyway he finally got it on and set the needle down and it began to play and he said, “Ho–ho–ho–hold onto your ha–hats!”

I’ll never forget that, “Hold onto your hats!” He was a good friend with Alistair.

Anyway that’s the story of the First Waltz. It’s not quite finished and I’m not sure how far to go with it because he’s dead and his wife is still alive. I saw her about two months ago at a party. Tony Bonner knew him also. I sent a copy to Tony and he said “Oh, come this weekend and you can see Bea.” I don’t know if it was because he wanted… I don’t know if Bea would want me to write that story.