2 December 2006

Back to Edinburgh Chaos

I'm back in Edinburgh, the wind howls and tango based chaos storms around me. My next trip will be to Nimegan - until then you can find me at a cafe near appleton tower. :)

27 November 2006

Walk in the morning sun

Yesterday Graham and Sam arrived; we lunched on extravagant sandwiches and then undertook an expedition to find the remote exhibition of the school of architecture. A note I had scrawled in a bar provided our directions: "school of arch. continue right past lake. turn right. lots of trees and hidden house". This lead us through Cristiania, and out again into the seeming wilderness by the south lakes of Copenhagen. We did find trees and a monument-like stone building and a hidden house, but it was all locked and all quiet. So we made are way back by meandering through the lake-side artisan houses of Cristiania, beautiful hand craft dreams realised, a floating wooden cabin, a space craft, a miniature castle in black and white with towers and circular windows. Like my fantasies of being an architect from 20 year ago.

In the evening we met at a dark indie punk venue to chase another bar-acquired ill-direction. The billing was Jazz meets Punk. The venue had a dark alternative, real, and somehow Glasgow-like feel, but the music was empty of talent - young men self indulgently ignored their spectators. But to talk with Graham and Sam was warming and dear, we rambled around snippets of suddenly remembered news, falling into cryptography and out through politics and relations.

This morning I woke early, the beer I dared to drink last night grinding at my sleep. Another year passed last wednesday and I grow increasingly intolerant to beer! I took a stroll in the shining cold and daring sun of this fresh morning. Empty streets and art gallery windows. Then to cafes stretching chair-limbs, rubbing their window-eyes, watching the city wake up; brings a smile to my face. Now for breakfast and plans!

23 November 2006

in celebration of cake

It's raining and I'm in a good mood - my teaching is over and we've just eaten cake had a taste of whisky and enjoyed some good coffee. So here are some pictures from the last week or so....

17 November 2006

Holiday in Hamburg

A sunny day and I take the train to Hamburg, a surprise ferry ride over shining waves then packed back into our train. I step out of central station in the twilight night falling, blown into a modern pedestrian highway of brightly lit sopping centres. These giants stare down patiently and abstractly on the small dark clothed, light skinned crowd who bustle bellow. A handful of breakdancers hold out, hang out, jump and dace, glory in their little fort of couter-culture, a drop of real culture.

Wondering takes me to the river, a wide peaceful body of water on which swans patrol and ducks parade if a little nervously. "Selected Coffee and Selected Music" catches my eye, appealing my ear. They offer good, heart thundering coffee, sweets and pastries, and music to listen to, and bated by, to buy. I bite and part 3 hours later, tuned up and befriended the owners who love Scotland and Whisky, who fed me music and biscuits.

11 November 2006

The Portuguese scientoligist

When I stay at home for too long I get gloomy, restless, push sanity for kicks. Annoyingly, the cd player skips. Luckily there are lots of records. But not as many as it felt like there was a few weeks ago. So the mint tea here is really good and in the evenings they have tunes I have not been listening to all week. Downstairs is dark and cosy, upstairs I get internet from an unwittingly generous neighbour.

I have noticed a something in over the last few weeks, people sometimes treat friendships as investments. Being passing air in the city makes people pull up their coats and walk on. Does the wind ever get lonely? Perhaps its the temperature of the wind that makes a difference, too hot or too cold people will shield themselves from it's flames and claws.

Yesterday, like most evening these days, I went to dance tango. Recently my life can be painted in few colours, tango for the night, programming and theorising for the now diminishing light of day, and sometimes a dash of eating here or there in the twilight. But last night I met an unusual character, a young dark haired Portuguese scientoligist. She moved to Copenhagen to study scientology - I was so dumbstruck that all I could do was say, ok, and smile to keep the nerves at bay. She asked, with a big smile, if I knew what that was, "Sure, Tom Cruise is a scientologist, right?", I reply. She nods enthusiastically and tells me the centre for scientology in Europe is in Copenhagen. I am saved by some music. I still hold out hope that it was a joke - can someone really be serious like that?

5 November 2006

shadows that a bright moon cast

There are thoughts, places in the mind, that I'm scared to go. But I can feel them as they walk through the shadows that a bright moon cast.

I'm sitting in my regular net-robbing cafe, with liquorish mint tea, on an antique faded green armchair. It's saturday, I have lime cake and I relax. Tonight I'll go to a tango-meal followed by what I've been told will be a big Milonga - dancing will end in the morning, the metro runs all night at the weekend. I don't know what to expect, probably good, life thrives in the spaces between expectations.

And tomorrow, I'll take a class in what I'll describe as a physical theatre for awareness with games of balance, trust and natural reaction. I was introduced to this last week and the echo's of "where are you?!" still revolve in my mind and the aches in my muscles have only recently resided. Some dark habits were rerevealed - one is to be lost in isolation, in hazy distance - known from Aikido but still lurking in the mood shadows.

I wonder where I am... does that imply knowledge of where one can be? or only that one can be?

Well, time to go back to my flat, shower and find the dinner.

31 October 2006

more pictures

A few pictures from the last week or so, I have not managed to work less, so my life is still a bit dull. I did go to Malmo and dance a lot of tango at the weekend, and there are stories to tell, but I'm tired tonight, so they'll be told another day. But I did goto Tivoli last week and tasted the witches brew.

25 October 2006

in which time speeds up and truth becomes irrelevant

This week time speeds up, truth becomes less relevant, and the washing machine in our block of flats packs up. I promise more excitement next week when I will go to Sweden for the weekend and work a lot less, I hope.

I've been discussing the idea of personality recently - we are certainly made up of stories, of images of ourself. These seek out new stories and roll along time like a runaway snow ball. But what if we let go of these stories? Onion-like, our stories are layered, intertwined and living creatures. Even history in this world is a painting repainted by later tales. Memory becomes fuzzy, and truth lies subservient to the clarity of images. Is every truth really a story - more truthful is just a stronger story. But still, the question of truth beyond stories begs an answer. Two tales might reply...

In one, everything is an image, a dream gently passing, a thousand mirrors reflecting each other. Stories are as good as they relate to each other. Nothing more than images. Absolute truth becomes meaningless it is all an image. But even here some images are more powerful than others. What we must learn to understand is the nature of image.

In the other tale, the images end at the lake of experience. Some relative truth pervades, stories are only as good as capture experience. Experience is a spring from which stories can spiral, but stories are subservient to experience. Personality then becomes what is natural beyond the force of an animation. We must learn to swim in the sea of experience and this way we can escape images prison.

Either way, the force of images are strong, the only question is do we have only images to fight with, or can we find something deeper?

I always felt that Buhdism, most clearly but other religions also, could be talked about in these two ways: they are either a strong image with which people might be happier, or they hint at a process from which to find some absolute and from which people might escape images altogether.

I hope they fix my washing machine soon.

17 October 2006

Napoleon's Imprisonment

Another one of those funny nights when I cannot sleep, so I'll tell you about my week. It has mostly been full of work, so I don't have too much to say, but there was still an amusing episode or two.

My landlord came by, he loves Napoleon. [sneezes] yeah, I seem to have become allergic to my flat, it started when I replaced the life size bust of Napoleon on the window sill with some fresh basil. He was relocated to my wheeley suitcase, hiding him from me and me from him... actually, let me show you...

He made me feel watched all the time, so one evening in a sudden burst of revolutionary energetic flat-domination, I moved stuff around, him especially.

[sneezes] ... so my landlord came by last weekend and he seems like a nice guy, I don't know why he came round, at first I thought the spirit of the hidden Napoleon called him to save the bust from imprisonment. But when I showed him what had become of his idol, my landlord, a smiley grey haired man laughed and told a story about when he had Napoleon standing on the top of the toilet cistern; how his friends couldn't go to the bathroom with old Napoleon sternly watching them. So tea was drunk and stories shared about this and that - his record collection, a small fragment of which still lives here - but eventually he gets up and says he'll be off, so I say bye and see him out, and still don't know why he came by, but it was nice nonetheless.

Other things that happened this week include bumping into an obelisk, learning why I should always floss, eating the most creative sandwich of the year 2004, meeting the red rhino of shoes, passing a kitsch bitch and seeing other guf. (Sorry for the picture-blurriness)

For the Tangeros, more news on Copenhagen Milongas: Saturday is a bigger night, a friendly crowd, mixed music, no tandas, no cortinas, eye contact works sometimes, dancers mix styles, ends at 2am, fairly central. The sunday Milonga is very nice, central, with tandas and cortinas that work so smoothly you wont notice, and the dancing goes until about about midnight.

9 October 2006

Battery powered first impressions

I have batteries for my camera! So, I've put some pictures of things in Copenhagen online.

8 October 2006

Tortus Eyes

An effeminate sounding man sings to cheesy rock guitars and those magic 80's synth noises in this, the Turtle Cafe. The mascots stare silent, they are giant brown tortuses of 2 dimensions who swim through the painted white stone walls. At the far end, a gold Islamic pattern decorates a wall where a black trumpet-man makes a distorted blowing-too-hard face.

My senses are delighted by a deep golden fruity tubor beer and an overfilled hot sandwish. I listen vaguely to a couple who talk on the other side of a stone pillar. In english they discuss their future directions being different, a little more intimately than I suppose they'd care for me to overhear.

But it is hard not to listen, I cannot help but follow the drama, the gentle sadness on the edge of their voices. They talk of studying in different cities, but under their unanswered invitations is the sure possibility of long farewells.

For me, life is the other way around! I am someone somewhere where they know no-one, so each conversation I enjoy is the opposite, even the ordering of a beer is alive with fire of possibly. This is a nice way to live, to feel the unkown happily peeking through to your life. So maybe it's because I know nothing, but I'd like to take this sensation back with me.

Maybe such analysis is not fair on my boring couple's conversation of the dull technicalities of living in different places. Is it not to stand on false premises: aren't people spending a pleasant evening together? The dull turn in their conversation does not matter, because they are enjoying being around each other... aren't they?

Any for me, is it not the same? am I not really just enjoying the humanity of being around people, of sharing space. Of sharing eyes... yes, eyes is are something I love about this city. The people here are never scared to meet eyes, indeed they seek them out, they invite them, and they shower them with happy human smiles. Old people who have made it their habit still smile like it was the first time, the middle aged smile with confidence and self assurance, the younger ones smile conspiratorially, and young children, whose ignorance gives them liberty all over the world, still smile into the passer's eyes. Even the turtles in this cafe look and smile. hmmmm what lovely beer smiling at me... I smile back and drink it.

4 October 2006

Cornflake tangos

11:45 pm, Tuesday night, I'm eating what seems to be an early prototype for corn-flakes. They are made of corn, flake-like, orange, and I've poured milk over them. But they are not quite the same as the cornflakes I know. I never loved cornflakes, but I do indulge in them sometimes.

Anyway, I'm just back from dancing tango - the Danish version of Edinburgh's la otra Milonga :-P but it is called Bailongo! Friendly dancer's enjoy a rather quiet Milonga (no more than 10 couples) on a large dance floor in a rather far away venue. It has a very relaxed atmosphere and getting dances by eye contact worked, although I did resort to asking a couple of times. There is a mix of ages, and experience from one year to many. There were also several of Copenhagen's tango teachers there. The balance of women to men is 50-50, and while I'm pondering their dance, it is mostly in an open embrase, but some were able to dance close as well. A final note on dancing here was that the Milonga finished at 11, in time for me to get home and get to bed for work.

I accidentally bought some milk-like gloop that I think must be a yogurt derivative. It has a cow on the front, but does not go well in tea. Still no batteries for Camera :( More cornflakes... my little orange bowl only fits a few at a time.

1 October 2006

Copenhagen is a word I find lovely

Copenhagen is a word I find lovely. I arrive an ignorant man making up with smiles and enthusiastic nodding.

It seems a city occupied by armies of one parent and their child. I took a long walk though the descending twilight. The people here are tall and strongly built. I feel small. A mother carries her children on a bicycle with two front wheels that support a large dark square metal box. It is in this box that two blond toddlers have a universe of red and blue plastic toys. Behind them, their fair but quite blond mother leans on heavy pedals, letting her children's world fly onward.

Tiredness falls on my stomach and huger pulls with sharp hooks. I hate not even being able to ask people if they speak English. I'm forced to presume that which I do not know. But no one seems to notice. It is only when I try to knot my tongue to make Danish words that people seem to share some of my embarrassed confusion. So, at least in English, my guilt remains a secret, hidden behind a façade of shyness.

The heart of my belly guides me to a basement Japanese restaurant. It sits by one of the many large rivers which lounge around the city like giant sunbathing snakes. Lovely light clean food! Then, too much green tea later, it becomes now. Back home for along sleep!