SA4QE - The Slickman A4 Quotation Event

This fan event began in 2002 as a unique way of spreading the words of Russell Hoban. Every 4th February (Russell's birthday), readers around the world write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper (the sort he used) and leave them in public places, and/or share them via this site or on social media with the hashtag #sa4qe

Upload your quotation report for 2021 (login/registration required)

See also the latest SA4QE tweets

The most recent posts to this site are displayed below in descending order.

SA4QE 2014 - K. A. Laity - Twitter/Facebook/Dundee, United Kingdom

In keeping with a very Hobaninan spirit, I am writing in bed, so afeared that I would not acutally venture out and about to leave a sheet of A4 somewhere in town (if I do, I will amend this), I created a virtual sheet of A4 which I shared on Twitter and Facebook. I will also add it to the blog entry I'm writing today. I wanted something uplifting and inspiring, so I went to The Mouse and His Child for hope in a difficult world.

"All roads, whether long or short, are hard," said Frog. "Come, you have begun your journey, and all else necessarily follows from that act. Be of good cheer. The sun is bright. The sky is blue. The world lies before you."

Filed under Twitter/Facebook/Dundee United Kingdom The Mouse and his Child

SA4QE 2013 - John - Melbourne, Australia

Once time passed after 4qating, I let a bit more pass, and a bit more, and here we are in May and I'm finally putting a little report together. It's getting colder and darker in this part of the world. The mysterious, exciting time of the year.

And I have to say this year is already on track to be the best of my life. Which means there have been times when Russ' absence has been so painfully intense and frustrating. Yet it is only because there has been so much presence that I can smile even at this.

Anyway, I chose this quote because at the time, when things were starting to go so well for me, I kept thinking of Russ and all he taught me. And both lines have recurring Russ themes - the second one always making me grin. I pasted it under a Richmond bridge: a strange, yellow-lit place with lots of train-rumbling that always makes me think I'm in a Hoban novel, about to meet some semi-dangerous weirdo with a blue guitar who'll show me a door under there I've never noticed....

    Dr Mzumi made another note in Klein’s folder. ‘A CT brain scan and a carotid angiogram might be a good idea. They’ll send you an appointment.’

      ‘Thank you. One day you’ll be old and pissing in two streams too. Sorry. Bye-bye.’

(Photo courtesy of Mike Lowe's flickr:


Filed under Melbourne Angelica's Grotto

SA4QE 2013 - Emmae - Argyll, United Kingdom

There’s a doctor who wants to look into my eyes today, 4 Feb 2013.  Strange, there was a doctor who wanted to hold my hands this very day in 2004.  Different town, different stones and oceans, but a familiar blend of coincidence and palimpsest.  Man of the day, Hoban.  Destination, Oban.  Me, ‘lorn and loan and oansome’ at the Lorn and Islands Hospital.  Nothing dramatic but it’s the best I can do in this gale, bag replete with the reqwyrt materials.  Décor is dawn blue, highland water springs from the wall and piped music softly plays golden oldies… Leader of The Pack…  Can’t help thinking about death in these places no matter how fresh and light, but everyone here is older than me, I swear.  Twenty minutes of Kleinzeit, then I’m summoned by Dr. Z-something-old-testament.  Slight and dark, he never smiles as he makes notes and pumps gallons of white light into my streaming eyes, hands me tissues and tells me the bad news.  I’d forgotten Dr. Z. might want to see the birthmark on my retina – by the time my dilated pupils and I stagger back to the waiting room, there are looks of, “What is she on!”  Now, how will I see to complete my 4quation?  How drive to the supermarket?  I can only do what people do here, wait.  The distortions will pass; find a corner, pretend to read, and presently the place is empty; lunchtime.  I spread everything out on the table and take the black pen to the A4 yellow, blinking.  Big block caps.  Fold it, name it, links and hints, plant it in a rack of NHS booklets on Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators.  As I leave, people are starting to arrive again.  A tall sprightly man, wearing glasses and a navy-blue, Joseph Conrad/Russell Hoban cap, says he likes my hat, a fuchsia-pink beanie with sparkles.  He asks if we can swap.  He is walking towards the rack, smiling.  I go out feeling sure he’ll be the one to find the yellow paper and smile some more.

“My mind is subject to fits of strangeness; this morning coming to work I looked out of the bus window at people talking, crossing the road, running to catch the bus and I thought, all this is really only Death dressing himself up as people talking, crossing the road, running to catch the bus.  Ought a doctor to see things in that way?”

Lines from ‘Come Dance With Me’ by Russell Hoban, writer, 1925-2011

Filed under Argyll UK Come Dance With Me

SA4QE 2013 - Thoughtcat - Rugby, United Kingdom

SA4QE day for me this year saw a mixture of feelings about a relationship. I hadn't planned on which quotations to use, but I did have to go out and meet someone that evening, and on the way out the door I grabbed The Medusa Frequency and a few sheets of yellow paper. Medusa was the first of Russ's books I read over 20 years ago and is still my favourite, and with its themes of love and loss and searching there was no better book to be revisiting given my personal circumstances.

I arrived at the station with a good half-hour before my train was due to leave, so I bought a cup of tea at the cafe and sat down. The light was too bright and everything seemed plastic and artificial. I decided to open the book at a random page and see what it gave me. This is it:

Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored. And in each plane of stillness is the moment of clarity that makes you responsible for what you do.

This is a well-known quotation from the book (in Hoban circles, at any rate) and to be honest I've never really understood the juxtaposition of the "plane of stillness" and the "moment of clarity" and the suggestion of responsibility. I suppose it means that in that plane of stillness you and your situation are frozen and held forever, a complete and entire snapshot of your world fixed and unavoidable in the cross-section. You know what your responsibilities are, and what effects your actions could cause, and you have decisions to make, and you have to live with the consequences.

I copied down the passage on a sheet of the paper and pondered on it for a few minutes. There were other tables of people around, I considered handing it personally to someone and walking away, but wasn't bold enough to do it. I left it on the table, took my tea and got on my train.

I had two seats to myself on the train and alternated between gazing out the window and pondering this and other passages from the book. I tweeted the quotation, then took photos of some of my own planes of stillness, which are reproduced below along with the quotation itself.

Arriving in Euston I made my way by tube to Victoria and then to Peckham Rye. There was a woman on the Peckham train opposite me with short dark hair and eyes so big and deep you could swim in them. I couldn't decide if she was a Luise or a Melanie Falsepercy but she was wearing a Unison badge with the slogan "I love the NHS", the British National Health Service which our current government are so cruelly and wantonly dismantling, so on my way out of the train I touched her shoulder, told her I liked her badge and made my excuses.

I'd never been to Peckham before and trying to find my destination proved tricky, even with the aid of the GPS in my phone. Directly outside the station was an actual crossroads, a pedestrian crossroads underneath a series of arches. It seemed to sum up what my life had become lately. I stood in this plane of stillness for a few moments trying to work out which direction to take. I went with the one that seemed best, turned right, turned around and ended up on Peckham High Street walking past one brightly lit shop after another. There were fresh food shops where you could buy sea bream, hen and goat. There seemed to be dozens of hairdressers, all of them busy. There were phone accessory shops with dark-looking men outside smoking guardedly.

I met up with my companion for the evening and we used her phone's GPS to find our destination, a bookshop where Jake Wilson was talking about Russell Hoban and playing songs in his honour. It was a tiny shop with 20 or so invited guests and there were plastic tumblers of wine and there was a speech by Alexis Deacon who so beautifully illustrated Russ's last book Soonchild. Jake had a cameo role in Soonchild as a member of a band and the singing tonight was in honour of the concert at the end of the book. My friend and I stayed for as long as we could but living so far away from my home town meant I had to leave before the evening had fully finished. Jake's singing and playing were excellent. The next day he flew to New Zealand as part of his journey to Antarctica to play his songs about Captain Scott which he'd written with support from Russ. My companion and I found it a very moving event.

Filed under Rugby United Kingdom The Medusa Frequency