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.
A Very British Brexit.
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.
This was supposed to be a sort of review and reprise of George Orwell’s “The Decline Of The English Murder,” only my point of view is very different to his. Which makes his essays the more appealing to me. Add Orwell’s beautiful and evocative writing and you have a blissful read.
Not that murders are blissful, but that’s the point of murders – and the point of Orwell looking at their decline. Orwell’s books were written to be read by those who enjoy reading, those who read the story as much for the writing as the story itself. But that is what makes literature; if it’s only a story thinly interwoven by lumpy descriptions, it’s pulp fiction.
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?
Molen Bij Zonlicht, 1908.
I didn’t go to the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague on Saturday to see the Mondriaan exhibition; I went to see the paintings by Isaac Israel and his friend George Breitner. But to get to this exhibition I had to go through the Mondriaan exhibition and it stopped me in my tracks. The exhibition is entitled, “De Ontdekking Van Mondriaan” or ‘Discover Mondrian‘.
It is the middle of the night and all is quiet. Routine on a naval ship is the normality; the routine in the small hours of the night is even more crucial, because that’s the time when people are at their least aware. It’s nature: humans are better asleep in the depths of the night. Standing around in the dark is simply not as interesting as standing around during the daytime. Even at sea, there are things to see in the daylight, like a seagull. At least there is something; when it’s dark, it’s just one fug of nothingness. The blackness becomes boring for the rating standing lookout on the bridge of the USS Porter.
Well, it’s been all over the news. The inferno that engulfed a tower block was on the front pages from Bild Zeitung to The Times Of India. I’ve read several interesting posts regarding this incident and one brought me a snippet of news that really made me realize what a parlous state the British economy is in today.
Bill40 spoke of how the costs saved on the renovation job was £5,000. And he put this in bold numbers because the sum was so tiny. I know five grand is a lot to many people, but in terms of building, it’s the equivalent of one euro cent. That is to say, you can’t buy anything with that kind of money.
Not in building renovation, at least. The scaffolding for that job would have cost in excess of £30,000. Five grand is peanuts.