It is now Sunday afternoon, and the conference is over. We had a couple of terrific speakers this morning, including one talk on body language... I am usually a bit sniffy about men giving talks on this subject as there isn't a women I've met in my life who isn't an expert, yet men only 'discovered' it in the 60s when cheap film and then video was to hand, and now they are the world experts. However this chap was very amusing and had us all trying out various arm movements and different facial expressions. ie. Raise your eyebrows and now try to look aggressive. Very funny.
The meeting petered out, rather, with lots of testimonials and German plaudits for various people. It is fascinating how rip-roaring successful it is here, and in so many other countries, and such a dismal slow starter in Britain. There are various theories as to why this should be the case, which I have already mentioned and today I suggested some action we could take in our team...I think we might get somewhere. The fact is the German Olympic team is now officially sponsored by Juice Plus, and the French national ski-team too, and we need to get our UK teams to take a look. Does anyone out there know David Beckham, please, or Seb Coe? I want to talk to both of them.
Sorry if this is being a bit hither-and-yon.....I have to get the thoughts and memories down as they spring up.
Andrew came and met me at the end of the conference and we went back across the road to the Wiesbaden Museum for lunch (where I went with Dr John McConnell yesterday). Afterwards we paid our 8 euros and looked at the art.... a terrific collection from the 20th and 21st centuries. I loved a huge wooden Centaur-Trojan horse with innumerable pages of planning and annotation all in mirror-writing, and several installations of suspended groups of - what? - junk? anyway integrated masses of boxes, cones, flaps, tubes, angles, blobs, bits, etc, all multicoloured, and on two quite different scales, reminded me of space detritus, or crazy satellites, or flying towns, or even mind-maps of witches. Great fun. There was a film called Der Lauf der Dinges which was nearly 20 mins long and showed the most spectacular sequence of cause-and-effect I have ever seen, with tyres rolling down slopes and triggering small fires or waterfalls, and oscillating planks causing chemical tidal waves, and chairs tumbling over, and tides of water slowly dissolving the bottoms of tiny columns of sugar cubes supporting further boards with cardboard tubes which then rolled away and set off strange wobbly-orbit pairs of shoes flapping along, which bumped into tiny ladders which collapse and set off further explosions or fires emerging from water (phosphorus?), or clouds of dry-ice steam which somehow set off further events...absolutely amazing. Dated 1985-1987 and no doubt the source for many an advertising campaign since.
I could say so much more.... do you want to read it?
The best thing would be to come and see for yourself. English tourists are not much in evidence in Germany, yet loads of people here speak really good English and are very pleased to see us.
I was really impressed (yet again) at how much money is spent on the arts, the numerous lovely brochures and posters for local artistic events, and the space and quality of the buildings dedicated to culture.
Another nice thing here is that if you stop to watch a small child splashing in a puddle, or chasing pigeons, or doing whatever children do, the mother will smile at you.... like they used to do in England before this ghastly health-and-safety age we have to live in now. It is quite a relief, feels normal.
In the art museum I was not allowed to take my handbag around and so could not make notes of the artists' names and despite trying to memorise them, I could not. Sorry. Actually I am really tired.
Quite apart from my late night last night, I have been in this noisy dark flashing-light hall for days, trying to make sense of headphone translations and making notes as we go, and it is knackering.
Anyway, it was a relief to walk round to pick up the car and drive to Mainz – where we walked about, saw that the Gutenburg monument is absolutely empty for some reason at the moment, looked at the Rhein, ate delicious Italian ice-cream, looked in lots of pretty shop windows, heard a (Gypsy?) clarinettist playing mournfully in the streets, admired the statue of St Boniface, and generally just stroll about. Lots of nice shoe shops by the way.
We have spoken to our landlady who is coming round in the morning and we can pay her the rent and then we plan to set off for Koln (Cologne) to see the cathedral and have lunch. We have all day Tuesday to make our way back to Dunquerke and home and at the moment we have no idea where we will stay tomorrow night. Nice feeling.
I can recommend this little apartment if anyone wants to know where to stay here... not expensive, room for 4 people, very basic but clean and in a quiet and convenient central district. True is is at the very top of the building with lots of stairs, but that gets you fit and there is a nice view from the kitchen roof-light....of lots of rooftops. Also it is noticeably warmer up here so you get the benefit of the heat in the building in the cold weather.
I meant to mention the excellent wig shops I have seen, I am v tempted to buy a long wig as an act of nostalgia for when I had long hair. I do miss that but it's such a bore growing it again.
We're going back to the Greek place to eat again tonight, and maybe will be blessed with the monstrous garlic bread dish again. The internet cafe is right across the street from there so I will post last night's and today's bulletin (this!).
Best bits – some of the speakers at the conference, the architecture in Wiiesbaden, seeing my friend Michelle fall down into the seating well in the sushi restaurant last night (she's OK), seeing inside the Russian church at Neroberg, seeing the caped women of Wiesbaden in their bright clothes, seeing thousands of Germans dressed as Turks and behaving as if they were about to collect their A level certificates, and not least, the general sense of stimulation to my creativity...I have had lots of ideas for painting and for short stories and even a novel, all based on this place. Goethe was here, and Wagner and Brahms and Dostoevski and loads and loads of other people, and when you are here you can see why. Also hilarious are: the wiring in the apartment, the way almost everyone in the street stands and waits for the green man to show before they cross the road even though there is not a car in sight, the written German language with it ludicrous pilingup of nouns and adjectives to create a particular meaning, and the faint misuse of English – nearly but not quite right .... such as a sign on a shop window saying 'I'm so glad I'm a woman', and a tatty jewellery shop with the slogan emblazoned... 'Nice, but not too nice for you!'
I love it. I love the travelling. I love the differences and the civilisation and the fact that all this is going on all the time, and has been going on all this time even though we have never been here. It's like visiting a waterfall and leaving, knowing it will go on squirting huge amounts of water over the edge whether you are there to see it or not.
The Rhine is a MIGHTY river, absolutely huge and still here we are so far inland. People walked about here in these forests and mountains maybe thousands of thousands of years ago, and made artefacts and houses and created a sense of how to BE in northern Europe. They had their mythology and their sense of the weather and the food and the wild-life and the distance and they were our ancestors and while A and I were driving about a day or so ago I felt close to them, however silly that sounds. Looking at more recent human history, it is quite plain that the English language IS German... we are the same. So all these differences and silly quoibles and twiddles I have been thinking about are just irrelevant really.
OK – time to go and eat. Not sure when the next post will be. Maybe from Cologne or further west back into Holland or Belgium. Tchuss!