Day Two :: Dijon to Genoa

This was not an auspicious start, all told.

Daughter has badly sprained her ankle, but we wanted to be sure it wasn’t broken in a country where at least one of us spoke the language, so a minor diversion was worth the couple of hours to accommodate. Then it was the same time again to hit Switzerland, where the kids got to understand that not all of Europe is the same financially (40 quid for 2 burgers, a quid to go to the bathroom) before we hacked it up the Alps. I’m not one normally to be staggered by road trips, but the pictures I have are frankly mesmerising. Gimme a day here to sort my shit out, and I’ll upload a bunch to Flickr.

Italy was as bonkers road-wise as everybody told us it would be, and we made it Genoa as the sun went down, to a hotel which was early 20th Century splendour incarnate (even down to a classic glass elevator in the middle of the staircase). I wish now I’d taken pictures, but Tuesday was utterly exhausting. In fact, the journey down was one of the most mentally taxing experiences for a while, added to the physical exhaustion of the Ride London 46, and by Tuesday night the plot had been summarily lost.

As it transpired, things were only going to get more stupid on Wednesday.

Here With Me

Yesterday’s trip into London was as glorious as I hoped it would be, and then some.

The benefit of not getting out much, undoubtedly, is the sheer joy of being somewhere you’ve been imagining for a while and it being far, far better than you’d hoped for. In my case, that was the V&A, which I’m pretty certain I’ve not visited in my lifetime. To be honest, the place has always been intimidating: all these centuries of history, pillaged from the countries that Britain went and made ours, and then stuck in glass cages as some kind of bizarre commemoration of someone else’s notion of beauty. Except yesterday I came to understand just how fertile a place a museum can be for discussion, discourse and ultimately freedom. It helped that I had probably the best person possible accompanying me for half the day: a friend who understands the concept of curation is, at least for someone like me, an incalculable godsend.

That’s where I ended my day, but we should talk about where I started.

east_london.png

I make no secret about my constant and continued love affair with London, especially the East bit. Maybe that’s why Central and West have to work on me so hard, because they’re full of the kind of people I have absolutely no association with whatsoever. Yesterday I also did the National Portrait Gallery, thought not the Gallery itself, so I didn’t get to properly tick off a Skyfall location from the Obsessive Bond fan To Do List.ย Still, what this proved was that were I looking for a place to sneakily drop off a Walther, I’d do a lot worse on a Friday afternoon. I ate lunch south of the River too, because I like looking at places that I’ve used as writing inspiration. The Savoy remains a place I keep gravitating back to for location, simply because there’s nowhere quite like it in London. However, I’d be lying if I said that the V&A hasn’t become one of my new favourite places overnight. If I could live there I probably would, moving a bed from gallery to exhibitionย so I could sit and be inspired by new stuff every day.

They’re gonna totally let me do that, right?

pasts

Often the past can intimidate us into silence. My dad, for instance, has been scanning years worth of pictures of me and my brother/family which my brother is now almost joyously scattering all over Facebook as some badge of honour. There’s nothing I can do about this, of course, and that’s just one of those things. I choose not to remember a lot of my life for good, sound and really quite sensible reasons. An obsession with the past often isn’t the way you move forward, but I understand now that for some being able to embrace that is the means by which they can let go. I’ve already moved on. I don’t need to understand where I came from to be motivated into what I am, that’s where I exist. Your experience of the past may vary.ย That’s the thing about history, if you want to be remembered you don’t use other people’s to boost you, it is time to produce your own, and that’s what I’m doing.

What matters to one person will undoubtedly be of little significance to another.