Posts tagged 'Travel'

Psalm

On September 25, 2018 / Tagged: , , ,

I’ve always enjoyed travelling. Not just the being in new places part, although that’s good; I mean the act of travel itself. Air, land or sea, there’s something about travelling somewhere, moving, that I’ve always enjoyed. I think a part of that is the feeling of being semi-isolated. If you’re travelling then it’s basically OK to cut yourself off from the world, to switch off the phone and ignore the people who aren’t in your immediate vicinity, because you’re in transit. It’s a great time to sit back with some music, a film, a book (maybe even work, if you insist), and compose your thoughts.

It was on such a trip recently that I was listening to Stranded, the album by Roxy Music. I was on a plane, going… somewhere or other, I can’t recall. Since I first listened to this album, it’s one that I keep coming back to. And in particular, Mother of Pearl has always been a standout. I love the musicality – the whirlwind first couple of verses giving way to a more laid back melody, which perfectly matches the lyrics. It’s a great song. A Great song, even.

I’ve been looking for something
I’ve always wanted
But was never mine
But now I’ve seen that something
Just out of reach, glowing
Very Holy grail
Oh mother of pearl
Lustrous lady
Of a sacred world

Anyway. On this flight I had the album on, half-listening and half daydreaming. Then part way through one of the songs it grabbed my attention, a complete “fuck me this is good” moment. That song was Psalm.

Up to this point I’d always enjoyed Psalm, but not really got it. But at that moment it made sense. The music, pared-back, with every note perfectly placed. The lyrics, steeped in irony and dry as a martini. The song starts gently – peacefully, as you might expect a psalm to be. But with every bar, every beat, the song slowly builds to a withering crescendo:

And then you’ll see all that you should
Forget all your troubles
You will feel no pain
He’s all that you need
He’s your everything

And that’s why I love travel. A chance to gather your thoughts, get some distance (literal and metaphorical), and see things anew.

California Dreamin’

On February 21, 2018 / Tagged: , , ,

These photos of Los Angeles by Franck Bohbot are fantastic:

I went to LA for the first time last year, spent my birthday there in fact. Before I went, a few people told me that it’s a ‘love it or hate it’ kind of place. I loved it, but I can’t exactly put my finger on why.

The photos in this set really take me back. One of the things I enjoyed when I was there was just walking around, taking it all in. Especially at night. When the city’s lit up it takes on a different vibe. The atmosphere is just a little bit more loaded, things a bit more on edge, everything a bit more alive. I’ve not been anywhere else like it.

Dunkirk

On January 29, 2018 / Tagged: ,

Last week I visited Dunkirk for a day. I was travelling back from somewhere else1 and decided to stop off on the drive back to the Eurotunnel. The inspiration was mostly from seeing Dunkirk (the film) last year; I enjoyed the film a lot, and wanted to see the place for myself.

I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. I skipped trying to see the shipwrecks at Bray-Dunes because I missed low tide, the Operation Dynamo museum was closed for “embellishment” – always a good word in the context of retelling history – and I obviously didn’t have much time as I needed to travel back. So I mostly just ambled around, seeing what I could see.

I’ve been to a few places like this, and I always try and imagine what it would’ve been like at the time that the historical event happened. At Dunkirk, this was hard. The city was besieged twice in WW2; the first – and more famous – time was in 1940, by the Germans when the Allies were trying to escape. The second time was in 1944-45, when the German units stationed there were surrounded by the Allies as they advanced across Europe. All this fighting caused quite a bit of damage to the city, to which the French have rather selfishly responded by rebuilding things.

The outcome of this is that the town looks… well, like a modern city2. Which makes it hard to imagine what happened there; it’s difficult to picture scenes of warfare and peril when there’s kids playing on the beach, people lunching in bustling restaurants, and couples ambling along the promenade.

What did strike me though was a sense of the sheer magnitude of what happened there. How those days in 1940 were a branching point in history. That if something different happened, the story of humanity would’ve taken an entirely different path, and the world would look very different today. If you think about history as a procession of days, most of those days probably aren’t significant in a world-changing way. They all matter in aggregate of course; there’s everyday evolution and change that inexorably drives things forward. But history-defining, seismic moments are rare.

I can’t imagine anyone involved at the time really cared about any of that though.


  1. Fucking Bruges 

  2. And a bit of a crappy one at that