Play about the birth of Maigret in Delfzijl

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The story goes that Alfred Hitchcock phoned prolific French detective writer Georges Simenon (1903 – 1989) once, only to be told by the great man’s secretary that he could not be interrupted, as he had just started working on a new novel. “That’s all right,” Hitchcock said, “I’ll wait.”

In 1927 Simenon had his boat Ostrogoth built, a cutter modelled after the fishing vessels of the English Channel. In 1929, when he arrived in Delfzijl, Groningen, he noticed a leak, the repairs of which kept him there for four months. “I still have vivid memories of my discovery of this pink town, surrounded by dikes, with its walls that weren’t meant to keep out attackers, but were there to keep the streets from flooding with sea water during bad weather,” he writes in a companion article to the 1966 Dutch edition of Le Château des Sables Rouges.

He wrote that novel then and there (“I was still in the habit of writing two or three chapters a day back then”), and when he had finished it, he wondered what the next step would be. Drinking genever one morning in café Het Paviljoen—two, three glasses?—he saw the outlines of a broad-shouldered man through the alcohol induced veils of his imagination. A pipe followed, a bowler hat, a warm overcoat with velvet collar. In short, a proper police commissioner.

Theater te Water will stage a play about the birth of this most famous of all French detectives, Jules Maigret, in Delfzijl starting May 12. The play, called Noord Moord (‘Northern Murder’), will be performed on a boat. Where else?

(Link: Dagblad van het Noorden. Photo of a Pieter d’Hont statue of a Georges Simenon character by Wikipedia user Gerardus, who released it into the public domain.)

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