summer in full swing

Hello my dears, I am off gallivanting to Copenhagen (holiday) and Kent (retreat) and West Sussex (music festival) this couple of weeks, but thought I’d document some summer memories so far:

Went to see this amazing exhibition a few weeks ago, and was moved to tears by the compassion, sense of humour and all-round sparkly wonderfulness of Quentin Blake. What a genius.

This has also been happening in Coventry recently – lots of outdoor sports activities, including cycling round the (in)famous ring road, and one of my friends dressing up as Skippy (a kangaroo, what else)! Fun times. Making me feel proud of Coventry, especially its design and manufacturing heritage.

It was a real-life steam train! That you could actually travel on! Enough to turn any adult back into a child.

Perfect summery dishes: here and here (works just as well with pork, by the way).

Saw this movie a couple weeks ago – so much food for thought.

And, my summer reading.

Finally, a very beautiful, moving video piece: (Edit 5/9/13: Sorry, this link doesn’t seem to be working anymore. You can view the video here however: http://www.simonchristen.com/adrift.html)

Happy weekend! Hope you have some barefoot, hanging out-y fun.

Sou Fujimoto and the Serpentine Gallery pavilion

first look

A couple weeks ago I was in London to visit family. Now, for some people this might be extra stressful, but my family are cool and I love them. My cousin, who’s just graduated from Newcastle Uni, is extra into modern art, so we did this whole museum crawl of exciting places that she’d read up on beforehand.

I really don’t get modern art all that often; the Serpentine Gallery had some rather odd things. This one, in particular, was quite unfathomable:

rock on top of another

Called (wait for it) ‘Rock on top of another rock’, by Fischli/Weiss, the description just had a few too many long words in it for something that simple. Hmm. Yes. Maybe I was missing something in my uncultured barbarian state.

pram

But then there was this absolutely awesome pavilion by Sou Fujimoto, which made everything ok. So fun to climb around on and interact with. Was it ‘indoors’ or ‘outdoors’? A manmade artificial structure, or something much more natural and organic? Amazing how you could create your own experience of the structure, from above, within, different angles, and in your own head.

There were lots of people there just hanging out and enjoying the experience. Also helped by the fact that there was a Fortnum and Mason cafe inside the pavilion.

people basking

people coming in

Determined that my summer shall include more weird and wonderful things like this!

Have a weird and wonderful weekend, everyone.

false memories

Have you ever been absolutely sure of something that happened to you as a child, only to later be told by parents, older relatives etc that it happened to someone else, or couldn’t have happened?

Warwick Uni is doing some really interesting stuff this term on false memories. Apparently Dr Kim Wade, a Psychology professor at the university, has managed to implant the false memory of going on a hot air balloon ride in 50 percent of her test subjects. That’s every other person! Whoa.

I actually volunteered for a different Psychology experiment run by her when I was an undergrad, and she did manage to get me to be certain that as a child, I had choked on a boiled sweet. Apparently 2 out of 3 of her test subjects emerged absolutely convinced that they, too, had experienced this. So surreal and bizarre; I still remember the stomach-turning moment when she said that it hadn’t actually happened to me. What a completely flummoxing feeling. Seems like we hardly know anything at all about memory still, despite all the research.

Also, Alasdair Hopwood is allowing you to archive your own false memories publicly here. Go check it out.

Handmade

 

I spent the weekend travelling to old places and new. I didn’t tell many people I was going, and as a result spent three days not speaking to anyone other than shop assistants. I went to this which was amazing. The picture above is from here, I bought postcards by the artist from the ARTs*LABO stall at the market.

It was good. I spent a lot of time by Tokyo Bay, watching ships depart and wondering why most of them are named something- Maru. I went to Meiji Shrine, where I was too early for the irises, then went back to the humid embrace of the rainy season, which is 9 days too early.

I am trying to forgive. I hold on to grudges unremembered by anyone else, and honestly, I think if I told someone what exactly I remember, they probably would find it quite horrifying. I find it quite horrifying. So I’m trying to forgive these little things I remember, to make space for new things. Memory is difficult, and talking about it is hard, because you don’t know how much people remember, and how much of yourself you will lay bare. I do genuinely wonder if my memories are my own, and how many of my stories in my head are just stories, half remembered conversations I’ve stiched together from different people, places I’ve imagined that I may not have been. It’s terrifying, this doubt. I envy those people who’ve had friends who’ve been with them ever since they can remember. I suppose that’s pretty much like a communal memory, for some things.

So I am trying to forgive, everyone, really, that I can, and slowly dissolve these unyielding pinpricks of time. For my own sake, and no one else’s. Since no one remembers, it is mine to let go.

makkurokurosuke

I am travelling this weekend, in part to clear my head. It is, probably, very privileged of me.

I dislike those recent memes “Why you should date a girl/boy who…” It sounds, really, like a hard-sell by girls of themselves. Don’t sell yourselves, ladies. Seriously, if you have to tell people why they should date you, I don’t think you should be dating them. And, also, if you are defined by your love of travel, of books, of all these pretty things, then clearly you have the time and money to actually do these things. What about the girls who don’t? Are you saying don’t date them? Because they are not you? What is this stupidity? Date whoever you want! Let boys date whoever they want!

I am also rewatching Totoro. I didn’t realise this, but makkurokurosuke aren’t actual youkai. They were made up by Studio Ghibli.

This is a brilliant documentary. In part this fascinates me because these are really kids who grew up in bad circumstances, in the poor banlieues of Paris who decided/ created a movement based around beauty and strength. I realise, now, that many of the people I’ve grown up with actually, deeply believe that poor people are somehow lesser than they are. They believe that education, wealth and intelligence is the right of those who can, and those who cannot, didn’t gain enough merit in order to deserve it. This bothers me. This is perhaps why I’ve stopped talking, really, about things that matter to me to a lot of people who used to matter to me, and often still do. It’s hard enough for me to talk about this to myself, but to talk about this to people who won’t see it the same way terrifies me beyond words.

Anyway, I do, really, recommend this:

good and bad running on parallel tracks

bring the happy

It’s been an oddly bipolar week. My friends and I got to do tons of very lovely fun stuff, and celebrate some joyous happenings, while at the same time quite a few difficult things were also going on with us. It’s been a weird one, oscillating wildly between feeling like all is beautiful and we can relax, and feeling thoroughly pummelled by life.

Discovering a bedbug infestation in my room alternated with a visit to this gorgeous home and grounds (they had deer!) with my friends in perfect sunshine on a National Trust Free Weekend. Which in turn was followed by being seriously, horribly slammed with work deadline major crises. But then my dear sister came to visit, and we spent the day out in Coventry. And then it was Earth Day, so we scattered candles across our living room surfaces, turned out the lights, and invited some dear friends over for dinner (made a delish adaptation of this based on what sauces and aromatics I had). Over the course of the week three friends had serious health issues crop up with their loved ones — but yesterday another friend, who has a cartilage injury, got off crutches four weeks early. Plus I got to go watch an arty film (pretty good) with a bunch of friends that I wouldn’t normally do that with, which opened up new topics of conversation and meant that we now know each other that little bit more.

“Good and bad run on parallel tracks, and they usually arrive at about the same time.” — Ron Dunn

I guess most of life is normally like that, lots of different happenings bumping up against each other. But it’s been awhile since my week has felt that extreme, the joy and the pain so sharply delineated.

I could focus either way, and have swung from one extreme to the other many times this week. But I think I’m going to choose to be thankful. That the various raging beasts of work projects have been momentarily tamed; that many of my family and friends are healthy; that I’m seeing some of those friends in Nottingham today; that I have great people to live through it all with — that regardless of how different our situations may be, we are committed to mourning and swearing and rejoicing and feasting together. The fundamentals of my life are good.

When my sister was in Cov, we got to go see this rad happiness mapping project and submit a couple of memories. Bring the Happy started out during the recession a couple of years ago, when city centre businesses were dropping like flies. A theatre company called Invisible Flock decided that they were going to move into a city centre storefront, armed with a couple of big maps of your city, and ask people to log their happy memories on the places where they had occurred, marking them with glass rods (of lengths corresponding to your happiness level in said memory). At the end of the logging period, they would take those memories and transform them into an all-singing all-dancing bells-and-whistles-replete foot-stomping show.

BTH shopfront

BTH overall view

map on screen

walsgrave hospital

The bit I loved was nosily reading everyone else’s memories of my city, from the seriously inane to the life-transforming. The glass rods are a striking visual representation of where people have chosen thankfulness and hope; I was surprised to see a huge cluster of them on Walsgrave Hospital. Participating felt oddly like joining in with some kind of mass prophetic act, speaking hope into the city, hope into our bones.