A surreal scene during Catalan protests in Barcelona in October last year.
A mannequin is unmoved as a fashion store window is daubed with a red hammer and sickle and a yellow freedom protest ribbon. Leafy trees and the sky are reflected in the window, giving a sense of calm in the general unrest.
There’s nothing like being corralled in one’s home during lockdown to cause a longing review of your travel pics.
This shot of Edinburgh’s National Monument of Scotland atop Calton Hill is a particular favourite.
The Monument is a wonderful exemplar of overreaching ambition unmet in actual performance!
Intended as “A Memorial of the Past and Incentive to the Past and Future Heroism of the Men of Scotland ” (phew!), construction of the grand edifice began in 1826 but stopped in 1829 owing to the cash drying up.
It has apparently earned nicknames such as “Scotland’s Folly” , Edinburgh’s Disgrace”, and best of all “The Pride and Poverty of Scotland”.
A bit harsh really.
As I stood in the drizzle gazing at the Grecian columns framing the grey sky, I had a sneaking admiration for those who started something so grand it just could not be completed.
A flashback to my time in Barcelona late last year (loved the sheer style of this old building!), on account of hearing on the news of lockdown restrictions lifting in Spain.
The country has suffered more than most with Covid-19, but it brought some joy to see footage of children who had been prevented from going outside for weeks, finally playing in the spring sunshine.
When I was there, there was an entire week of Catalan protests, culminating in marches involving over 500,000 persons. I had never seen so many people in one place in my life, let alone such purposeful and agitated crowds!
Contrast that with the deserted Spanish cities under lockdown currently.The television shots of the main centres have been emphatically eerie and quiet.
But the laughter of children running around in parks is a small sign that maybe are heading in the direction of our dreams, rather than being haunted by with a nightmare.
There are no people in my picture, but I hope that those cooped up inside the fantastical building right now, and all around Spain, and elsewhere , get some sense of normality and freedom soon.
This stunning modern suspension bridge over the Firth of Forth was certainly worth a picture, as we crossed over it late last year( don’t worry, I took this photo from the passenger seat! ).
As I have been filling my musical boots with vintage sounds of late, may I take you on a transatlantic leap to the somewhat older but equally stellar Brooklyn Bridge, which I was fortunate to have walked over as a young bloke.
Artwork of it features on the cover of a 1982 album ‘The Bridge’, by jazz/fusion keyboardist David Sancious. Sancious may be better known to rockers as an early member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
A YouTube link to the sublime title track ,an old favourite of mine, is below, if you have the time to embark on a sprawling aural trip of your own…
“If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”
– Mark Twain
Pictured recently, yours truly, seated with a bronze statue of the great man (real name: Samuel Clemens). As close as I will get to meeting him!
I have long admired Twain’s wry humour and sage veracity.
Like the quote above – you laugh first and then the wisdom drags you in and sits you right down, as you reflect on hard life lessons.
I sometimes feel his writing gets me, rather than the other way around.
When I was a young man I took a Greyhound bus from Chicago to New Orleans ( helluva long ride!), and the road more or less followed the Mississippi River south after St. Louis. My best companion on the journey was Twain’s ‘Life On the Mississippi’, published in 1883 . A great read – fantastic tales of diverse folk, working and up to all sorts otherwise, on the river back in the day (it’s well worth searching out).
It just made my trip feel damn boring by comparison though…
In the previous post Boxed In ,I touched on the boxes that we end up in.
In my recent travels in Scotland, I came across this ancient stone version in a cemetery at St. Andrews. Pretty impressive; nicely ergonomically tapered and contoured to fit the deceased’s head. Top design marks.
I suspect it was for someone of some importance. You wouldn’t go to all that bother for a regular dude or dudess.
Important person or not, as the pop-punk bard Wreckless Eric once said,” there’s only one destination in the final taxi”.