Ah, Paris. In the endless internal debate over whether I feel more American or European, there’s nothing like a quick trip to Paris to remind me that actually I mostly feel like a Londoner: a big city lover who respects anywhere else that has a kick-ass underground system. And really, there is something truly magical about walking to Willesden Green station and then not leaving either a train or a station building until you emerge in the middle of another country. Of course, not speaking the language might have been a bit of an issue – scroll to around 2.27 for more – but luckily I was expertly guided around by Tash and Beth (thanks guys). And speaking of Tash – it was just really, really nice to hang out with her again – and I’m totally looking forward to visiting Manchester already
More photos on Facebook, but here’s a taster:
One final thing about Paris: as much as the ‘world city culture’ was very much in evidence – albeit with admittedly more beautiful surroundings – one thing that really struck me as different from Britain was the presence of the army. I’m sure it’s just what you grow up with, but as a Brit, I still find it a little odd when you see our own police officers armed with guns. Much as it may be sometimes necessary, I can’t help but feel glad that we still don’t consider it necessary for our police to be armed as a matter of course. Yet in France, not only were the police armed but so too were on-duty soldiers: most incongruously, just outside Disneyland, where they could so easily have been costumes and props but were, of course, real soldiers with real weapons. I’m not saying any of this really matters much: obviously, the British state could call in the army to its own streets if it wanted to, and has done so in the past. It’s just a feeling, and maybe a romantic one, that most of the time we don’t want or need such an obvious show of force to live in peace.
On a more prosaic note, yesterday was dad’s birthday and so – back in London – the family went out for a really nice dinner and then, as a surprise, News Revue. (See, told you I’d mention it again…) Which now means their song parodies are ever more firmly lodged in my head!
And finally – you might want to check out Regimented, a new site set up by Alex Trafford to host a series of debates on a variety of topics. I’ve kicked off the proposition for the opening debate on digital piracy, which – I should point out – is a position that was arbitrarily assigned, as it will be for everyone. Nothing on the site necessarily represents what any of us actually personally believe. But if you are interested, give it a read…
Hey y’all. I’m back! Well, back for a little bit – from late on Wednesday night until Sunday, in fact, and then holiday part #2 starts on Sunday Croatia, unsurprisingly enough, was hot and sunny and very restful! I feel under a bit of pressure to blog well about it, though, since we were sitting around one evening discussing blogs – as families do – when my own mother opined that The Musings of a Red Dalek has gone downhill over the past six months. A stab to the heart is what it was, I tell you, a bloody heart stabbing incident indeed. (Between mournful gasps, I countered that at least it was still going, and has comfortably outlived most of its contemporaries. So there.)
As you may have gathered, Tasha was having an eventful time doing other things this time round, so Katie and I held the generational fort with a raft of silly activities. These included a developing a serious addiction to German MTV – or Mighten Tighten Vighten, as it shall now forever be known – to the extent that I now have a bunch of German-only pop songs stuck in my head: an itch that Spotify sadly fails to satisfy. Wir war’n Geboren um zu Leben, mit den Wundern jeder Zeit!
I have to say, though, that acting as a family of four for a while did confirm to me that being one of three siblings is clearly best. I know this is controversial territory. Only children in particular can be rather militant in demanding equal rights these days, and I’m totally not prejudiced – some of my best friends are only children! – and liberal enough to believe if consenting adults don’t want to share their toys that’s alright, as long as they do it in private and don’t try to teach siblinglessness in schools. But just one sibling still isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong: Katie and I got on great in Croatia, as we (almost) always do, it’s just that family mealtimes with five people are even more competitive in terms of getting a word in edgeways, and I rather enjoy this
constant shouting healthy dynamism. Maybe even more would be even better…
Oh yes, and on the subject of me and Katie – we had a wonderful moment together in Split, after petulantly refusing to accompany our parents to see the interior of a church and opting instead to stay outside in the glorious sunshine. (It was borne of an immediate but nonetheless remarkably firm conviction that we rather liked our own shoulders, thank you very much, and weren’t about to cover them up without a more enticing incentive than, um, the interior of a church.) Yet the moment they went in without us a pagan alternative suddenly turned up outside, in the form of a bunch of toga-clad, crowd-pleasing ancient Romans. Hurrah! No matter how much gold was inside that church, in the coolness stakes our team totally won.
Also: mum, Katie and I went rafting, which was lots of fun…
…and included an optional rock-jumping stop. Now, before I conclude on a photo of said rock-jumping, I must say a word about Katie’s sneakiness. Because there’s also of photo of her jumping off the rock – a photo I won’t be blogging, because it makes me look stupid by comparison – with her arms outstretched and a carefree, isn’t-this-fun look on her face. Great. I, on the other hand, am clasping my life jacket like a fool. But, ladies and gentlemen, we were told to do this! Honest! Katie just abandoned health and safety in pursuit of a cooler photograph – it’s her that you should judge
So, these were some little bits from our great time in Edinburgh. We also: tried to keep a straight face while a woman thought she felt a ghost in the underground city (“there’s cold on my face…”), wandered breezily into the Scottish Parliament viewing gallery, discovered the totally awesome Museum of Childhood, poked around in the medicine cabinet of a Georgian house and – and I really wouldn’t joke about such obvious mental instability – ended up having conversations like this:
“Pronoun verb pronoun!”
“Pronoun verb pronoun, qualifier!”
Now, one thing you should know about going on holiday with Lucy is that she’s an absolute Adam Smith fiend. It’s forever Theory of Moral Sentiments this, Wealth of Nations that… obviously I did eventually drag her off to an art gallery occasionally, but it was a tough fight. To keep her pacificed I will therefore also include the following photo, although for reasons of political impartiality it will naturally be appropriately balanced:
(And now I’m struck with an irrational fear that someone will take the above seriously… look, to prove I was joking, here’s me with the Batman to Adam Smith’s Robin to show that it was all me really. Ah, Hume. Now there’s a man who wouldn’t have felt cold on his face.)
Now, I’m pretty unapologetic about enjoying holidays, so I won’t bother to go through that tiresome ‘moan unconvincingly about your holiday’ ritual designed to make other people feel good about their non-holiday. Also, it was only Dartmoor, so you’re unlikely to feel uber jealous that you haven’t marvelled over such sights as England’s tallest waterfall. (I have. Fact.) Nevertheless, it was lots of fun There was even an outdoor pool which – in Britain! – somehow managed to stay warm…
With non-existent mobile reception where we were staying I was able to devote ample chunks of time to reading Brideshead Revisited and Book Club’s The Bird Room. As a family we also watched plenty of films: Fight Club (excellent), Cars (sorely needs a public transport sequel), Black Hawk Down (like watching someone else play a computer game), The Black Dahlia (eh?) and Downfall (also excellent). (I have to admit to walking out of the first volume of Kill Bill after about half an hour, bored and feeling like I’d been watching a PowerPoint made for a film studies class.)
There isn’t really much else to say, other than the full album will be on Facebook… soon
The rains cometh! Yes, as a most-welcome shower finally relieves us of a prolonged bout of horrid humidity, I feel a happy boost which prompts me to get on with blogging about our trip to Liverpool. Some photos:
Going through the album and choosing which photos to display actually brought up the curious thing about Liverpool: try as I might, I couldn’t find anything which really screamed where it was taken. I actually asked someone there what they would put on a postcard to identify the city – akin to Parliament or the London Eye, or the Bullring for Birmingham – and he couldn’t really think of anything aside from the docks. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of impressive buildings, so maybe it’s just my fault for not recognising them as quintessentially Liverpudlian. The giant outdoorsy and slightly creepy shopping centre Liverpool One certainly didn’t qualify. Anyway, we did have a great time and packed in art galleries, museums, a bus tour and the cinema alongside (of course) plenty of eating and drinking – thanks to mum for organising it all!
Last night I ended up staring at the beautiful night sky above Queen’s Park (no lighting – hooray!) with Joshua, Niamh and Matthew. Matthew seems to bring out the theatrics in me – we’d already ended up encircling each other in the pub shouting things like “but what is a fact?” far louder than the management of The Corrib would have ideally wished for. A lovely evening!
I hope no-one is now disappointed that there was no further mention of the promised dhododendrons…