Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Dutch ramblings. So am I.
So it’s been a month, and I am established in home no 2, and in possession of bike no 2 (first one was just a loan). Re bike, her key feature is that she is GREEN (see figure 1). I know I once wrote disparagingly about people who thought girls only cared about a car’s colour, but in this instance it’s actually quite important (cf figure 2). Bike Tetris is challenging enough without your ride disappearing into the Dutch Bike Witness Protection Programme.
Work is rather wonderful. I do a lot of it, and a record percentage is what I am actually supposed to be doing, which is very satisfying. Although I have developed a side project involving the study of European African Studies researchers, which sometimes feels a whole lot stranger than anything I encountered in the TK (more on that later).
And apart from that, Amsterdam. Really. I think I totally blanked the whole tourist side of being here while I got my head back, and then suddenly last weekend I realised – Amsterdam!!!
Let me explain that I’m not talking about the usual stuff. After all those years in the TK, there’s nothing particularly special about being able to buy weed, and staring at half-naked women in shop windows makes me uncomfortable. But walking through the streets, with the Christmas lights and the trams and the squares with their outdoor café tables, full of people drinking Grolsch and eating crokettes, and the trees strung across with fairy lights, under heavy monuments and posters for music festivals and smartphone deals… you can fill your eyes with it all and feel a long long way away.
Cities still aren’t my thing though, and I wouldn’t have got excited about Amsterdam if it wasn’t for the art. I don’t know how I missed this before, but Holland has a serious stash of the good stuff, and I’m already panicking about not getting to see enough of it. Last weekend I started with a Marlene Dumas exhibition, and although I thought I could die happy after that, it got even better Thursday evening when I got stuck into the twentieth century collection.
I know, I sound like a complete snob. But walking into a room and suddenly seeing, LIVE, something you stared at in book plates and wrote essays about for three years – I think it might be my version of bumping into Brad and Angelina in Woolworths. I want to take selfies and tag myself: Kate Sherry was with Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Jean Dubuffet at the Stedelijke Museum, Amsterdam. I even get excited about those giant wall-size paintings that are entirely red with two tiny stripes of blue, and nothing else (OK, not as much).
And then, there’s that moment when you’re perusing the cream of the Scandinavian design collection, and you find your mother’s salad bowl. The one you associate with trifle and the eighties.
And then there’s the other moment, when she replies to your flabbergasted and uber-delighted text with, “Pity it disappeared a few years ago”.
I’m going to put posters on the lampposts when I get home.