The dialogue on Once upon a Time may not always be perfect, but there is this delightful line, spoken by Rumplestilstkin, that magic always comes with a price. It’s wonderfully catchy and universal, quite applicable to a lot of things, actually. Being the information junkie that I am, I would never have thought, though, that trying to keep up with the Brexit and its consequences would be one of those pricey things.
Some of you already know that I work in adult education, teaching everything from basic travel English to conversational English, and also British (sometimes Scottish) life and culture to a bunch of open-minded, interested and simply fantastic people, most of them in the 55+ age group, although the folks in the evening classes usually tend to be a bit on the younger side.
So spending the better part of last week discussing the various aspects of the Brexit, professionally but also with family and friends, was exactly what I had expected. What I hadn’t reckoned with, however, was how bloody exhausting these discussions would be, because I am emotionally involved.
In essence, the British Isles aren’t a foreign country to me but rather my holiday home in Europe. I’ve been travelling the UK ever since I was sixteen. Over the years, I’ve consumed more than my share of British culture, literature, history and media; I’ve formed friendships and regularly exchange Christmas cards.
Among my favourite TV people ever are David Attenborough, Simon Schama and Jim Al-Khalili. And if fellow Doctor Who fans inquire about my favourite Doctor, I’ll proudly say it’s the Fifth. (I only caught up with classic DW after the new series had started, and while I’ve seen every classic Doctor in action by now, Fivey is the one I really clicked with on every level, which is kind of sweet, because due to his early 1980s run, Peter Davison’s Doctor would have been the one I had imprinted on as a child if I had grown up in the UK.)
Despite the fact that I certainly think, feel, act and sound unmistakably German in everyday life, it is therefore no wonder that a large part of my personal identity is determined through what I love about the UK.
I would hate to see these ties substantially weakened, due to the bureaucratic complications that are likely to ensue now. Following media reports and political commentaries feels like a trip to some clownish, nonsensical and ugly bizzarro world.The reports on the rising number of racist attacks on immigrants from other EU countries are leaving me shocked.
The things that enter your guestroom once you are approaching middle age and realise how catastrophically out of shape you have become …
Btw.,selenak , I think this acquisition can be blamed on you, at least partly. When we were in Bamberg, there was a crosstrainer in our hotel. Cavendish and I both tried it and decided we liked it so much that we had to get one of these things of our own. ;-)
From the description text of an exhibition I went to see at the Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg:
From 27 February, 2016: Liquid Identities – Lynn Hershman Leeson. Identities in the 21st Century
“Digital identity”, “patchwork identity”, “multiple identities”, these are all terms and constructs we use in our attempts to approach the complex question of “Who am I?”: Under digital conditions identity is no longer a fixed constant. Permanently in flow, it is contingent on a multitude of changing factors, the most influential of which are the presentation and communication opportunities offered by the Internet today.
Hershman Leeson’s art is fascinating, and many of her works eerie and unsettling.
Also at the Lehmbruck as an accompanying exhibition: Jakub Nepras - State of Flux
Rushing and fleeting. Hovering, static. Organic. The most otherworldly and transient light effects. I feel privileged to have seen these in real life. Needless to say the picture below doesn’t do the actual experience any justice.Jakub Nepras: Landscape, videosculpture with sound, photo by Martin Polak, artist’s archive
The view from my study at sunset, during a thunderstorm. Thunder from afar, the sky heavy and oppressive, the air glistening with rain. Only a tiny stretch of blue at the horizon. On a clearer day you would see a large iron bridge leading across the Rhine and also some industrial buildings on the other side of the river.
Completely out of focus, but this picture gives a much better impression of how it looked like when I went outside.
Oh, and speaking of my study, in case you are curious…
The desk where I type all my posts. Both the keyboard and the desk are antique. I purchased the keyboard in 1998, the desk is roughly one hundred fifty years older.
I'm currently in the process of planning our summer holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Starting from Inverness, mostly by rail. Sometimes it's just weird which remote places you can discover simply by checking out every single stop along the train line (not that there are that many stops to begin with *g*).
Altnabreac (from Scottish Gaelic Allt nam Breac) is a tiny settlement within the former county of Caithness, in the north of Scotland, and now within the Highlandcouncil area. The settlement, notable for its remoteness, consists of Altnabreac railway station, the former Altnabreac School (converted into a house in 1986), and a couple of scattered dwellings. It can only be approached by train, or along unsurfaced roads from the nearest village, Westerdale, about 12 miles away.
A happy Easter to everybody out there! :-)
( Easterly pictures ahead... )
In case you are wondering about the not quite so brightly coloured eggs: I was naive enough to believe that if you set out to buy egg dye the Saturday before Easter, the supermarket would actually still have some in stock. Surprise, surprise, everything sold out. So I had to resort to curcuma and beetroot...
If you live in an area as densely populated as I do, where one city seamlessly blends into the next and even the greener agricultural fringes with their fields and small patches of woodland just seem a little less tightly knitted, you are used to a certain level of business. Cars on the road. People running their errands. Supermarket customers queuing at understaffed checkout desks.
So the following observation took me by complete surprise, though I certainly should have expected it. After all it is mid-January; for days temperatures have been below zero, even here in north-western Rhineland. No snow, though, just frozen soil and puddles turned into ice.
Under these conditions there seem to be few places so perfectly quiet, so perfectly at peace with themselves as a garden centre at 9.15 am on a Wednesday morning.
Plants in deep slumber, their leaves rolled up or lost. In a heated glass house some eager azaleas, pink crimson and white. Not a soul in sight except for an employee quietly unpacking some bird seed.
(Before you ask what on Earth I was doing there: Cavendish had asked me to get some bark mulch for his Dahlias.)
On a less winterly note: Yesterday evening we finished rewatching Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which has aged surprisingly well. A clear victory of writing and acting over relatively low production values. Even in this day and age of near perfect CGI worlds the show manages to be every bit as atmospheric as it used to be. Also, it’s fun to see a young Peter Capaldi play Islington.
As for looking back on my fannish interests, well, apparently 2015 has turned out a year of wonder and second chances. Re-watching The X-Files, getting enthusiastic again about Doctor Who. Not that I didn't enjoy the previous two seasons after almost quitting the show during s6 (River issues, don't ask ;-)), but the current season really struck a cord with me due to its themes, its open embracing of the surreal, and last but certainly not least the brilliant performances by Peter Capaldi, Coleman, Williams and Gomez.
It seems that during the past twelve months I've talked quite a bit about fannish disenchantment with various people. What I had not expected, however, was that one of these conversations, the one I had with selenak, to be precise, would eventually lead to the biggest surprise of 2015, a phenomenon I'd like to describe as the big "Once upon a Time paradox". Getting warned about season 4 and thus refraining from viewing it probably was exactly what enabled me to enjoy the first half of season 5 as much as I did, once that astrogirl2 's lovely episode reviews had made me curious enough to give the show another try.
And good grief, am I glad that I watched, and not only because the two episode half season finale gave me the Hook backstory of my dreams. There also were quite a few sense-making character developments and a surprisingly original and fun-to-watch take on Arthurian legends. Knowing this show and having been exposed to season 5B promos, however, I must admit that I'm not really sure if 5B will live up to the quality of 5A.
Somehow I feel like having a bit of silly writing fun, so this meme spotted over at astrogirl2 's seems just about right *g*
1. Write down the names of 20 characters.
2. Allow other people to leave prompts!
3. Write a fic of fifteen words or less for every prompt, using the characters determined by the numbers. Do NOT read the prompts before you do step 1.
(E.G. 1 + 10 - at the Beach, or 5 + 6 - happy endings)
I have a list of 20. Gimme some prompts!
What my students also got from me that day was a new mobile phone number, since I'm now in possession of a shiny new smart phone. Nothing fancy, I suppose, just a Nokia Lumia 630. However, for me it's a completely new experience.
I've never owned such a smart phone before and had only started to wish for one once I had realized how immensely practical they can be during a New Year's holiday on Spiekeroog.
Let's hope I'll make good use of this latest gadget and resist the temptation of playing around with it too much ;-)
This month's purchases (so far):
- Hilary Mantel, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
- Damien Keown, Charles Prebish, Introducing Buddhism
I'm curious. Tell me, what are the books that you've bought in 2015 so far ?
Greetings from a typically German Christmas Fair to everybody out there who's reading!
This picture postcard photo of Cavendish and me was taken a couple of days ago, by an automaton, at the Duisburg Christmas Fair. After such a long period of not really posting anything of substance I thought it would be nice to kick-start this whole journaling thing with something visual. :-)
What I'm currently reading:
- Hans Fallada: Ein Mann will nach oben
- Heirich Geiselberger, Tobias Moorstedt (Red.): Big Data, Das Neue Versprechen der Allwissenheit, Suhrkamp 2013 (a collection of academic and non-academic essays dealing with the consequences and possibilities of Big Data as a cultural, economical and political phenomenon)
What I'm currently watching on DVD:
- Quantum Leap, selected episodes, re-watch ;)
- The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau I (which, btw. has an incredibly Star Trek-like flair to it)
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- Inside Llewyn Davis
- Alexander Calder at the Kunstsammlung NRW, two days before closing
- the ever amazing Käptn Peng in Oberhausen (Yes, I'm too old for this, but still so much fun. )
Books I bought but have yet to read:
- Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall
- Sven Regener: Herr Lehman
Recent cultural events that I went to:
- A rather intriguing and audience friendly staging of Wagner's Parsifal in Cologne, additional fun for Star Wars fans included
- Kaeptn Peng und die Tentakel von Delphi in Cologne which was quite extraordinary, literally and figuratively breathtaking.
1. Christmas Phobics Anonymous. Not that I dislike Christmas per se. Also, I actually look forward to many of the things that usually come with the event. Card writing, buying and giving presents, Christmas fairs, watching Christmas-y movies on TV, making my annual donation to Doctors without Borders. But all the social obligations and general business preceding Christmas Eve? Tend to make me rather anxious every time.
2. Anonymous Fans of Käptn Peng und die Tentakel von Delphi Older Than 30 (Vereinigung Anonymer Käptn Peng Anhänger Ü30) .Cavendish and I went to their concert in Bochum last Monday. A simply wonderful experience, which I enjoyed so much I would like to draw sparkling hearts around it. But being able to clearly identify Cavendish and me on a picture taken during the concert and posted at the band's facebook site? More than just slightly weird, though a great virtual souvenir to remember a fantastic evening.
As for somewhat more age-appropriate cultural pursuits *g*:
Bernard Schultze: Gegenwelten at the Museum Küppersmühle, Duisburg, 19th October 2012 until 20th January 2013. I hadn't heard of the artist before we went there on Sunday, though Schultze apparently is being regarded as one of Germany's most important post WW II avantgardists. Very impressive exhibition, especially the sculptures, sometimes standing, sometimes dangling and mostly amorphous objects which Schultze named "migofs" and which possess an undeniably suggestive and nightmarish quality. Some of them reminded me of Hieronymus Bosch.
A couple of minutes ago, I brought the firemen positioned in front of our house some coffee. They've been monitoring the situation all morning since 5.00 a.m., taking probes, watching the smoke.
Oh, and I've been interviewed by TV folks. Hopefully I didn't make too much of an idiot of myself. Hopefully the things I said won't be edited into something I don't recognize as I tried to keep my answers calm and non-sensationalist.
One of their questions: Aren't you worried by all the firemen in front of your house constantly monitoring the situation?
A: Well, I'd be more worried, if they weren't monitoring.
So we've had quite an interesting day so far. Giant cloud of possibly poisonous smoke coming our way. Police cars driving down our road, making safety announcements and advising residents to keep doors and windows shut, and, if possible, to stay inside while the smoke was being tested for harmful substances.
While the fire is under control by now and a (very basic) all-clear was given sometime around noon, people are still advised to stay indoors. As I write this, white smoke is still hanging over the fields, almost foglike if it weren't for the smell, and the Uerdingen bridge across the Rhine is shrouded and closed to traffic.
I can't help but feel somewhat creeped, mostly because the road (basically just a tarmac country lane) running past our house is so oddly quiet. Normally, at this time of day, there are always a handful of pedestrians and cyclists. People with prams, people with dogs, senior citizens enjoying a brief afternoon stroll to the nearby café.
Here's a German language article on the whole situation with several photos.