How can you see a gap? It’s something we’d only notice if we could see both sides, right? Just as on the London Tube – the name the locals gave to their underground railways – there are announcements of “Mind The Gap!”
Because there is a gap between the carriage and the platform.
The gap I speak of here, however, lies in our ability to think. It is the gap between what we do think and what humans are capable of thinking.
Between visiting galleries at the weekend and being at home, my life doesn’t speak of much. In fact, yesterday I was extremely bored, so much so that I really couldn’t get anything done. Anything I turned my hand to was met with a ready excuse that it didn’t need doing.
So, here I am, leaving Germany the day before the fun of the elections. But then, this is Germany, where elections are staid affairs, so missing one isn’t going to be the end of the world. What will be interesting will be to see if the AfD – the “Alternative für Deutschland” (Germany’s alternative) – increase their share of the vote. No, this isn’t how America does things: it’s not “if” but by how much they improve their share of the vote.
Britain is, and always will be a very odd place to live for anyone who is used to the way Europeans live. Storms in the English channel that stop the ferries running between Dover and Calais are always headlined as “Continent Cut Off”. The British point of view is nothing if not eccentric. Britain, that small island just off the northern coast of Europe, is something of an afterthought in the mind of the average European.
Now I have lived in Europe for the better part of my life, and if there is one thing that has been consistent to any of the countries I lived in – Denmark, Germany and latterly, the Netherlands – it is the lack of understanding about Britain’s place in Europe. Here in Europe, it is necessary to register one’s place of abode, and on no few occasions, that is to say, in each case of registering, I had been asked to show that I, as a Briton, had the correct papers to allow me to live and work in their country.
I pleaded that Britain was a member of the European Union.
Britain has a healthy economy, and it has a healthy economy because the economic figures are healthy. It’s how Britain – and the British – do business. We all do it, we all look to the paperwork: we all look to the figures at some point in the reckoning. Even when buying a bar of chocolate there’s the evaluation of quality over price; and that goes for Aldi too, who have various kinds of chocolate for the unwilling spender.
Britain, however, is a very different place than Europe. It’s as if there’s a real divide between the European economies and Britain in as real a way as there are twenty miles of seawater between them. There are few enough Europeans who understand the British mind – and an economy is the result of a cultural mindset. The British, for all their intelligence, are stumped when it comes to European minds and the economies they create. And the Americans are even worse because they’re so deluded as to think what’s right for them is right for everybody.
It is 1916 and an English gentleman is sitting in the shade of a trottoir café in Limassol on the island of Cyprus. Next to him is a Greek Cypriot tailor. They are both drinking coffee and discussing the events of the day. As they are about to part, the English gentleman says, “as soon as you have definite information, ring up 8456 and ask when it will be convenient for Mr Crowder to try on his new suit.” And adds that if he’s not there, he’ll phone back later in order to confirm the meeting.
So you’ve already spotted that something fishy is going on here, haven’t you?
Occasionally I share something from a blogger who is truly remarkable. The way she looks at things is something that each and every one of us can learn from. This time, it’s the way she describes her friend’s eyes.
In the Museum Quarter of Amsterdam there is the unimaginatively named ‘Museum Plein’ – the Museum Place. No surprises that you’ll find museums here. Well, that’s what it’s all about: the Dutch are straightforward people. Well, that is when they’re aware that is; when they are, things are made very easy. Unfortunately, the kind of architects this breeds are unimaginative – something that is the direct result of a lack of awareness. They’re not alone in this, most of the worlds architects are the kind of people the world would be happier without.