The girl with the blue and red tattoo


bend b

went to the gym
in my brand new addidas trainers
white Primark socks
black short-sleeved M&S shirt
blue JC Sport shorts

spent 3 minutes
on the stationary  bike
1 mile

watching the C4 weather forecast 
gusts of 90mph  sweeping over the Pentland Firth

2 minutes on the rowing machine

watching the weight-lifting slip of a girl
with  a blue and red tattoo
on her left shoulder
expand contract expand contract
15 calories

2 minutes on the slalom exerciser

with a view from the window
of passing students leaning into the wind and the rain

then sit-ups sitting down on my favourite

the red medicine ball
5 10 20 25 30 35 40 42
enough enough

then the  abdominal exerciser


then the  lower-back exerciser


the outer-thigh exerciser


the  inner-thigh  exerciser


then the torture of the tedious treadmill  

5 final furious minutes
heart-rate 110
watch the Vermeer girl with the white earphones
ignore the left calf pain
Slap Slap Slap Slap Slap
42 calories
enough

Slap Slap Slap Slap Slap Slap
enough enough enough

10 minutes showering
drying
dressing
pause to watch the girl with the tattoo

then out through the revolving door
into the wind
into the rain
clean

purified
virtuous
reinvented.

lod

Advertisements

Learning a language



I was standing at the long bar in the Museo de Jamon in Madrid,  half-lifting an arm, half-opening my mouth in a vain attempt to catch the bartender’s eye when the Spaniard beside me, either out of pity or irritation, told me that to activate a waiter in Spain you simply called out Oiga, and forthwith demonstrated how it was done.
Oiga. The bartender responded immediately. No offence taken; none given.
The man went on to tell me that he could identify the nationality of  people by the way they entered a bar. The English, he said, stop as soon as they’ve crossed the threshold, look round sort of helplessly, fiddle with their tie (this was long ago when men wore ties), wait to be told what to do next.
So the next time I was in a bar I walked straight to the counter and tried out the Oiga gambit. The waiter seemed quite comfortable with it (although I wasn’t!).
To me it was like shouting  Oi to a perfect stranger.  Probably a class thing. A middle-class language thing…. I wonder if you would be good enough to pass the salt, please….sorry to trouble you, sorry to disturb the universe….

poppies spain PRINT good

When we were having a stroll in the Spanish Pyrenees one summer, we passed/were passed by other walkers and, as is the way of hill walkers, greeted/were greeted with a friendly Hola. So we decided to perfect our pronunciation of this one word greeting, replicating the Spanish stress, tone, intonation and pitch rather than simply saying  Hola with the English stress etc.  of  Hello.
It was surprisingly difficult. It made me think how much information you convey with a simple greeting. About class, age, personality, sexuality…..

Going back to my schooldays, I remember my excellent French teacher, Miss Yuill, telling us about the mysterious French sense of humour where foreigners were concerned.
” It was a picnic, ” she said, ” une pique-nique, beside a field of poppies on the hillside above the beautiful town of Collioure, famous for all the artists who painted there…..how many of you have heard of Matisse?……Good. Picasso?……. André Derain… There is something so special about the bright, clear light in Collioure.  Derain, who was Matisse’s friend, said that ‘Collioure has no shadows’. Can you imagine such a pure light?”
She paused, and gave a little smile, remembering.
” Anyhow it was a beautiful, warm sunny day, ” she went on, ” and we were having a picnic and Jean-Pierre had just passed me one of these French cakes that are so light, so delicious… ” She smiled again, then frowned.  “When  out of the blue,  à l’improviste, a wasp descended on the back of my hand and I leapt to my feet and shook it off and cried out ‘Dites donc! Un guêpe!’ And you know what? Everyone laughed. Yes, everyone laughed and I was so embarrassed, so hurt…..And you know what they found so funny? You know why Monique and Jean-Pierre and all these lovely people laughed at me?”
She paused and looked down  at her hands. We waited. She sighed and looked up.
Une guêpe. Silly old me. Not un guêpe. Une guêpe. Une guêpe!”
The class was silent. She sounded so angry with herself.  Or with her remembered self. All that time ago. Thirty, forty years. And still so hurt. Still so angry.

My Lovely Amelia


 Amelia

I like nothing better than taking photographs of my lovely Amelia against some famous landmark: Amelia and The Eiffel Tower; Amelia and Nelson’s Column; Amelia and The Coliseum; Amelia and Edinburgh Castle; Amelia and The Angel of the North; Amelia and The Great Wall of China; Amelia and Ayers Rock; Amelia and The Great Pyramid.   I have them all.

Last week we went to India so I could photograph her with The Taj Mahal in the background.  The Taj Mahal looked  wonderfully grand, touched with pink by the setting sun and framed by majestic palm trees. It brought to mind that wonderful photograph of red-jacketed Princes Di  seated primly on the little wall  in front of the oblongs of water with this magnificent pristine building behind her not quite managing to put her in the shade. People have often remarked when I show them my photographs that my Amelia has a touch of Diana about her, the eyes mainly I think, the way she lowers her gaze at times.She is too beautiful for words.

My photograph of Amelia in front of  the Matterhorn, cheeks aglow with the cold. eyes sparkling, head slightly tilted, is another that people seem to like but my own favourite is of Amelia against the background of The Victoria Falls, not just because I have managed to catch little ribbons of  rainbows in the spray behind her with the water seeming to hang in the air like smoke but mainly because I seem to have finally captured that little smile of hers that I think is every bit as enigmatic and beautiful  as the Mona Lisa’s.

The one Amelia likes best is of her outside Buckingham Palace where the Queen and Prince Philip waited patiently till I had taken the photograph before passing between us.

LA DONNA E MOBILE


You’re never alone

with a mobile phone

gl8

La donna è mobile
Qual piuma al vento,
Muta d’accento — e di pensiero.
Sempre un amabile,
Leggiadro viso,
In pianto o in riso, — è menzognero.
È sempre misero
Chi a lei s’affida,
Chi le confida — mal cauto il cuore!
Pur mai non sentesi
Felice appieno
Chi su quel seno — non liba amore!

1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

333333333333333333333333333333333333333333
jasc ponte

8888888888888888888888888888888888888888

2222222222222222222222222222222222222222

6666666666666666666666666666666666666666

Copy of red dress 1mm

55555555555555555555555555555555555555555

4444444444444444444444444444444444444

66666666666666666666666666666666666666666

GRK

 

111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 

333333333333333333333333333333333333333333

festb

Songs of Two Cultures


Sarie Marais

.......

South African song (Afrikaans)
Nostalgic, folksy song
dreamy,
living in the past,
sad

O bring my terug na die ou Transvaal
Daar waar my Sarie woon
Daar onder in die mielies by die groen doring boom
Daar woon my Sarie Marais

*   *   *   *

Jambo

bright

Kenya song (Swahili)

Jambo,
Jambo Bwana,
Habari gani,
Mzuri sana.
Wageni,
Wakaribishwa,
Kenya yetu
Hakuna Matata.
Kenya
nchi nzuri,
Hakuna Matata.
Nchi ya maajabu
Hakuna Matata.
Nchi yenye amani,
Hakuna Matata.
Hakuna Matata,
Hakuna Matata.
Watu wote,
Hakuna Matata,
Wakaribishwa,
Hakuna Matata.
Hakuna Matata,
Hakuna Matata

Very African,
fun to sing
fun to listen to
 fun to dance to,
living in the present,
optimistic.

The Edinburgh Festival: August 10, 2013


THEFESTIVALISEVERYWHEREYOUCANTES
CAPEITTHECITYISFULLOFSPECTATORSINS
EARCHOFASPECTACLEORASPECTACLEINS
EARCHOFSPECTATORSEVERYWHEREYOUL
OOKTHEFESTIVALIS


festtt

The Edinburgh Festival is something else….it’s great to take part  as a performer or writer or whatever but great fun even as a humble spectator –  hundreds of shows to choose from………the Festival is everywhere , the good, the bad and the hard-to-classify….out on the streets, in bars, cellars, churches…everywhere..

I first went to a Fringe Festival play in 2007. It was called ‘The Smile Off Your Face’ , by a Belgian Company with the unlikely name of Ontroerend Goed. I happened to be passing  down Chamber Street where  it was showing and I went in on the off chance I might come across something unusual.

I got my ticket and was told to wait in the bar   –   sort of unusual all right, a bit mysterious – no barman, just me … where was the audience? What –
A  door opened, a woman smiled and beckoned and  led me from the bar/waiting room down stairs to a wheel chair. I was seated in the wheelchair then quietly told I was going to be blindfolded and have my wrists loosely tied to the arms of my wheelchair was that okay? ( Normally NO NO NO but in this context it was okay. Sort of..(once started, no going back).

Then I was being pushed off, through a bead curtain, stopped, someone was whispering in my ear, then I was moved on, interviewed by someone else, soft music,  someone was stroking my hair, and asking me if I wanted to stroke hers (I assumed it was ‘hers’)  which I did and I did. And so on.
“Can I ask you a question?”  another  voice whispered and I must have nodded or said ‘Yes’  because the voice went on  ” Are you happy? Not right at this moment but in general. Take your time to think about it. Are you happy? ” and I  found myself giving a detailed account of my version of how happy/unhappy I was to a stranger I couldn’t even see and getting  back  wise and empathetic comments in exchange……
“When did you last cry?” the voice asked and as I was trying to remember, the blindfold was removed and I was staring up into an actor’s face and watching tears well up in his eyes and roll down his cheeks.
Then the blindfold was replaced and I was pushed elsewhere to meet other voices out of the darkness and asked other questions and finally one voice began telling me a story about a young man travelling through a strange land where everyone seemed to know him and expected his help, asked for his advice, apologised for taking up his time…
When my blindfold was removed again, I found the sweet voice I had been listening to belonged to a woman dressed as the Pope but with a long white beard like Santa Claus. “Do you mind if I take your photograph?”  she  asked and  of course I said ‘Yes’ then the blindfold was replaced. And  the journey continued.

Smell this. What does it remind you of? What do you think it is? Taste that. Is it sweet or sour? What does this feel like? Rough? Soft? Can you feel it move under your hand?

Finally I was untied and unblindfolded in front of a wall that was lined with photographs of ‘the audience’, mine included, sort of proof that the whole experience was real, had actually taken place, hadn’t been some crazy dream, then I was ushered to the exit and released into the real Embra afternoon air with of course someone playing the bagpipes in the distance.
What was that all about? Had it really been only 20 minutes? Did I really say all that? Did…..?  What….? Why……. How……. Where…..?

 

festw


ISTHEGOLDENLADYGO
INGTOSITDOWNORISS
HEGOINGTOSTANDUP?

festnnbb           

byenteringthezoneofthispictureofthefestival
crowdsandreadingthistextsofaryouarere
vealingthataswellasbeingextremelybe
autifulontheoutsideyouarealsoape
rsontobereckonedwith

festybj

This is how cave paintings began

festv

If you can’t join them, photograph them. Everyone has a camera these days

festhjk

Edinburgh becomes cosmopolitan at Festival time, friendly, makes people smile.
This is Margo from Marvao and an astronaut with
cheap trainers posing for Sven, her Swedish boyfriend.

festyet

The woman whose white wedding dress you can just see had posed against the railings
with her handsome husband and his best man, – I was too late to get their photograph – got
instead this aftermath. This terrace is a busy Festival eating place above Victoria Road
with its quaint shops (it even has a brush shop!) which takes you down to the Grassmarket.
The day I went to the Festival was also the day chosen for a protest march 
organized by
Canadian comedian Shawn Hitchins to demonstrate against “gingerism,” or
 prejudice
against people with red hair. More than a hundred redheads  marched from the Balmoral
Hotel on
 Princes Street, across North Bridge to the city’s Royal Mile. The redhead below,
however, 
was simply a member of the University of Southampton’s Theatre group who
were putting on their play ‘Hanging Bruce Howard’  (admission:£5).

Pretty woman 
Good whisky shop.

festt

Great place, Edinburgh.