Showing posts from February, 2011

Travel Tales #3 A case of mistaken identity

At an airport once, while waiting for my flight to be called, I caught sight of someone I knew and who I really wanted to avoid. Luckily for me there was a party of Glasgow Rangers football supporters seated nearby, so I thought I would sit near them and hide behind their impenetrable accents. 

It was a good strategy that had worked once before and would have worked again if fate hadn’t once more conspired  to deal me a crummy hand.

After about ten minutes my human shield of football fans got up en masse and made their way to their boarding gate. Their flight had been called! I felt vulnerable, exposed. Luckily the object of my shyness was nowhere to be seen. But better safe than sorry, so I found another refuge, this time behind a school party of young teenage girls.

I started to feel relatively safe, cocky even, and then I looked up at the screen and was filled with a near panic when I saw that my flight was delayed for one whole hour. I was also beginning to regret that second cup of …

Rain, art & immortality

What distinguishes real art from ersatz art and tourist art is that real art has no shelf life, no use-by date. Real art is timeless.

And in a world which, to misquote Oscar Wilde, ‘knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’, it has become a commodity to be traded in the marketplace like any other.

Fortunately for us and for the world there are many public and municipal museums and art galleries in which the artistic treasures which belong to us all are preserved and put on display for public consumption at a modest entrance fee, and often at no fee at all, and one such is the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan.

I visited the gallery one rainy day. The rain, in fact, was torrential and had been for several days and was the main topic in the news. The cathedral, ilDuomo, the main tourist attraction of Milan, was open, but visits to the roof were not. This was a disappointment, but the Pinacoteca was definitely on, so it was there that I headed.

I wanted to visit the famous art galle…

Thinking voyeurs, Chinese laundries & political incorrectness

A man goes into hospital to have a leg amputated. The surgeon performs the operation and the next day he visits the man in his bed. The man asks him how the operation went and the surgeon replies: “I have some good news and I have some bad news. The bad news is that we cut your good leg off by mistake. But the good news is that your bad leg is getting better."

Hardly had I finished telling my joke than the cabin crew told us to fasten our seat belts for landing.

The place we were flying into was Nice - yet again!!! My flights to Nice arrive at Terminal 2, which is very bright and airy and which you can get through very quickly, très rapidement, which is good news for travellers like me who are always rushing. But WHY am I always rushing??? Why, why, why, for God’s sake why??!!!?? It isn’t as if I have an important deadline to meet. I don’t do important deadlines, never have. Nevertheless, I rushed out, bought a day ticket, un pass, and hopped on the first bus to the Gare SNCF Nice-…

A whinge and a prayer in Euroland

Why oh why did Europe ever adopt the single currency? The euro! Even the name’s a joke. It’s not a name at all…it’s a prefix! There’s that little tiny one…the 1 eurocent…so small you need a magnifying glass to read the writing on it. The notes are like Transylvanian Monopoly money. And the pictures they put on them: windows, monuments. No national heroes!...Napoleon, Beethoven, Rembrandt, Caesar. With so many national prides and egos not to damage, better to keep it safe and bland.

Europe is such a fascinating continent with its rich and varied diversity of cultures and traditions and languages…so why is it being reduced to eurosameness? The money is only the tip of the iceberg. That Low-Minded Cabal of Eurobeaurocrats, the European Commission, decreed once that costermongers in the United Kingdom must cease selling their apples and their pears in Imperial measurements and use metric weights instead. The cowardly supermarkets complied at once, but the free spirited market traders gave …