The large white bulk of a beautiful clown

Had a both brilliant and weird evening at the ANTIC TEATRE last night, having a beer in the gorgeous beer garden of which the chatter you can hear coming down the street, you go through the wall and up the stairs and you are into an oasis of beautiful people drinking and talking in the classic rustic/unkempt (sometimes verging into dirty) charm of a look that they seem to pull off here. The French also pull this off but a bit cleaner and more feminine?
Two levels, a big fig tree in the middle, a ginger cat, railings, stone terraces, enveloped by buildings that echo the atmosphere back into the space lit in part by fairy lights and part by the windows that look onto it.
Waiting by the bar to go in, I test Graham’s Spanish (useful theater vocab!) as the program is in Catalan, Spanish and English and in the quiet (or dark horse!) way that he is he pretty much gets it all right! Not being able to practice his Spanish out of class (certainly not on me) I don’t know that he is quietly, 2 hours a day, acquiring a hidden talent! bien hecho chico! (pathetically I had to do google translate for that…..again!)
Anyway the performance was in a black rectangle of a space with a small audience and one light spotting a cello playing and a figure in the corner in white rags by the look of it. The figure breathed and moved and soon the figure of a man became clear, through the performance he came forward and seem to grow in size disproportionally within the space he was using, close up he was massive.
There was a slight horrific moment as I had a coughing fit as he was on all fours staring, grimacing at me like a heavy jowly rockwieler, his sweat and white macup only making the scene more surreal, and then he moved slowly completely silently into the audience towards a light at the back (coughfing fit subsided now through shear terror ) he stops three seats in, at us, uses Grahams head as a steading devise and moves his huge, sweaty, white vested fat but muscly bulk around weirdly rocking the empty set of seats behind us.
His interest in Grahams head and the empty seats subside and he, what can only be described as a dance, continues. So he was a clown, a very big clown moving his large arms and long feet and huge belly as if he were a ballerina, but in his own very sad and beautiful way.
Slightly bewildered or traumatized ( in part by horrifically embarrassing coughing fit) we waddle off down the streets to our newly found favorite square, Placa de Sant Pere, eat in a french bar en aparte a couple of hearty salads and discuss over a bottle of red, future plans that as swiftly and lightly as our large white clown friend moved around the black rectangle of space drift from permanently spending half our lives here, buying an industrial space and me learning Spanish, briefly to Rome and then off more weirdly for me (as I always insisted it would never be) to Berlin.

To go get or not to go get

A mixture between doing some work, not much ( just my vat return ) having visitors and having the first cold since I cant remember, words seem to have passed me by, some are in my sketchbook which I will add later but generally it has been a quite time of looking around, going to exhibitions, looking at other peoples work and not putting much down.

It might be a good thing. I had started on a successful path of new sculpture which I was pleased with but it was much the same road as before. Better possibly all the time, but not different. The break, the cold, the rain, the visitors might have made a break in that. They have certainly stopped me working. But maybe it was not the path I wanted to be on.

Today, now friday, my cold still has a firm hold of my nose with disgusting concequences, it attached itself inside my head, in my ear and down my neck and its starting to creep down my throat and I resist it by developing a rather attractive hacking cough in response. All in all a delightful picture am I.

I went for a jog on the beach in the rain on sunday morning to bash it away and then sat in the park drinking wine with the permanent festival on wednesday (may day) to drink it away but it is a tough one and finally thursday made peace with it and looked after myself and chilled. But through the fog and mist of a cold in the sunshine ( which feels odd ) I have slowed down another notch and have found a beautiful if rather foggy pace with life.

Its not a pace I am comfortable in and is probably not sustainable finically but the days starts with a walk in the park with molly and some sketching. As the shadows became shorter and the sprinklers sprinkled me off we moved off to a convent courtyard and had a coffee and drew some arches and the people in their shadows. Back to the apartment and lunch was white beans cooked and when still warm dressed with oil, chili, garlic, basil and a little lemon, which when added to avocado, tomato and rocket made for a rather surprisingly yummy salad.

Its all cheap, life here is cheap.

And rich.

I cant decide wether this is an easy living, loving life or a lazy life.

Don’t you work hard to do this in your retirement. so why not do it, if you can do it now? I only question it because I am from the north and I think…

Its not very go get.

But what’s there to get and where’s there to go?

A bigger house, a stupid car, a bigger mortgage? More steak. More stuff.

What’s wrong with a simple life of beans and friends and time.

Do our southern European friends have none of the money but all of the answers?

When we go on holiday is it just their life we crave. Or the life we perceive them to have.

We are too go get, to moneycentric to relax.

If you don’t go get, your a looser.

If I don’t go get, I feel like a looser. Like I am out of the game, like a horse that cant finish the race and has to be pulled back, to come in easy at the end and be put out to pasture. Maybe the horse likes it out in the field?

It has taken a persistent cold for me let a different pace in and see the very pleasure in it.

No doubt however, I will as my cold wears off develop my hard workers angst and my pooteling about making a nice lunch for myself and a nice day for myself, and a wonderful kind of life for myself will subside and I will need to go get again.

I will crave the anxiety and the adrenalin and the pace and the spin.

And one day I will figure it out what it is we are all rushing about getting.

Our fourth Saturday starts with the sound of Molly’s pattering feet on tiles suggesting that after last nights private view and a couple of copas we may have slept too long, Graham takes her to the park and I cut up pungent nectarines for breakfast. Graham manages a short time in the terrace sun before he retreats to the shade side to do his ‘deberes’ (spanish homework!) and research much needed doggy park speak.
Mid April and the sun, like North Yorkshire wind goes through you. Molly rubs her face like she does in front of the fire when its just too hot but she just cant bear to move away. I sit for a time listening to the occasional catalan conversation across valleys of balconies and the sounds from the surrounding piled high family life. This is the background to the show stealing soprano voice singing sky high, her voice reaching to heights that bring tears to your eyes for the sheer beauty and romance of it.

Doing the uncomfortable

I should endeavor every day to make myself do something that I don’t feel comfortable with. Yesterday it was going into the shop of sacs. Under the arches of one of the blocks overlooking the park has been a shop that is always closed when I don’t have the dog and open when I do. Yesterday we made a special trip at the right time, collected our number like the dole queue and hung around trying to remember what 1/2 a kilo was in Spanish ( Graham has only got to the number 20 in his class ) and what all the different flours were and if any were bread flour, until we were served.

We chose from a spread of white beans in white sacs their tops rolled down to expose their shapes and sizes, cannelloni, butter, fava etc etc and then some turmeric and curry powder, he recommended the London Curry mix to our amusement, and 2 kilos of oats and puy lentils were chosen from greens, browns and orange. Much chuffed we managed to also get the wine shop at the right time and with an ornate metal bottle carrier we selected Torres because we have had that from Corks ( cotham ) white rioja,  and a selection of local, some from Grahams dad’s area, ranging from 2.50 to 5 euros, not quite the bottom end of this shop but bumping along there.

For today I pushed the boat out on the uncomfortable front and went swimming with strangers. I was warm when I left but writing this now, drinking warm tea and in a jumper and jeans, I feel as if a little section from the freezer compartment has cemented itself in the middle of every bone which the warmth from the terrace tiles cant reach. I asked them if they went all year round, suggesting I would only come for the summer, they said ‘oh are you not coming back again?’ I said for me this is the summer!

It was amazing to be in the bright sea, a real thrill to look out to the big boats, and although the boys crawled 1k to the rocks and back I did a fair bit of splashing around and swallowing seawater and crawling and heavy breathing and with goggles steaming managed to get halfway across the bay. So probably 1/2k in waves, which is not so bad, I haven’t been swimming for at least a year and if I don’t wear flip-flops next time I might not be too much of an embarrassment for them, although they were really very friendly and the lady looked out for me the whole time we were in the water which was really nice of her. She also lent me a cap to help the cold but it didn’t stop my forehead freezing so I could only do a little bit of head down crawl.

Cycling back with bare legs, a skirt, t-shirt and flip flops, past the girls in bikinis; ‘guiris’* like me, I don’t mind if I am not wearing enough clothes, I am going to enjoy what I think is summer, I will not get burnt and I will try and learn Spanish (sorry not Catalan, it’s just way out of my league) and I will definitely respect the people and the place but my instincts are within me and I am afraid I am who I am, and I am British down to the core of my now frozen bones.


I go out to walk molly in 4ish sunshine in jeans and jumper and shoes and long socks and if my jumper wasn’t bright red and my hair wasn’t so arian I could almost…er not…look like I lived here!

Whether it is the episode from “The Killing” we watched last night or my constant need to drag up the darker side of life, I think about why the woman is always the victim. Is it our shear physicality? Is it because we are always the receptacle both in the act and the consequence. Does this always make us the victim? This trundles around my head in a park full of laughter and sunshine and people, easy as you like, practise type rope walking, juggling, handstands and the violin.

I guess we are all selling sex. Life is sex. Why should I turn my nose up at the titillation on a video being filmed on the beach earlier today, the backdrop was the blue sea but nobody will be able to see the cold wind as it blew over naked flesh.

But why should I look in distain at the fully clothed man in white long trousers and white long sleeved shirt prancing about to unheard music with his harem of bikini clad ladies supposedly seduced by the very nature of him being there. He is just paying them to back up his on screen libido. If I were he would I not do the same?

I talk of sex in flowers and I draw their beauty and sexuality, it is about nature, without sex, or pollination there is no life. But I try to show a respect for nature and a vulnerability of form, so is it ok then? Is my work more like a Catalan that goes out dressed discreetly and modestly? When I myself would happily wear gold hot pants if I had the legs for it!

Is it all actually ok and its just how the world ticks? Some people are paid to dance in bikinis and smile at the camera and others wear burkhas. Or do they both in fact both wear “the ultimate visual symbol of female oppression”. I have read there is a choice in both, a lot of the time.

We have come so far. My Grandfather thought it was best not to educate the female mind. Should I be thankful that they have the freedom to choose to be in a video, that we have the right to choose to drive, to work even if it is usually the woman who has to give up work to have children.

I am trying to locate my ideas in difficult territory, I am unclear and muddled and ignorant but I know that life is full of compromises and balances.

har·em n
1. the separate private quarters reserved for wives and concubines in a Muslim home
2. the wives and concubines who live in a harem
3. a group of female animals of the same species associated for breeding purposes with one male
4. any group of women admirers or followers (humorous) (sometimes considered offensive)
Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.