I’m blogging this

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“Pat?”
“Yeh?”
“What d’ya think of the sign?”
“I think ya should underline ‘what an Irish bar should be'”
“Right. Which word?”
“What?”
“…”
“What the fuck are ye doing underlining that word?”
“You said what!”
“I did not. Lookit, it’s stupid. Underline another!”
“Which one?”
“Feck it, I don’t know. Underline ‘be’.”
“Right so.”
“Jaysus, that’s awful. Do Irish as well.”
“Ah, feck it, I do them all.”

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My first Ixus movie. 30 seconds, Windows Media

Canal cruise

{ Amsterdam, 1963, The dad and the scowl }

No story attached to these pictures. I just found them in an old album. I still have the bracelet on my mother’s wrist. She liked silver and liked bold jewelry. I wear it sometimes but it doesn’t look as good on me.

I just wonder why my parents went on a canal cruise when obviously I’m too young to register it and they really should have been above that kind of thing.

(edited to add: yes, I know it’s Amsterdam. Yes, I know how canal cruises work. Yes, I know you can buy pictures. Yes. Yes. Yes. That is not the point.)

All we got is this moment

{ Michael Hutchence, click to enlarge }

It’s not the greatest picture. I wasn’t the biggest fan. But I’ve been listening to U2’s PopMart tour. Hutchence passed away while U2 were touring America, and his death influenced the shows quite a bit.

Hutchence and Bono were neighbours (in France) and friends.

Just listening to the concerts and writing down the words, Bono’s mourning and feelings of guilt, made me remember this shot I took when INXS played the MCV in Utrecht. I think it was 1986 or 7, but I can’t find an exact date for the show.

I had previously seen INXS in ’86, before they ‘broke’ America. They played a free festival in The Hague. Hutchence was mesmerizing. Made you feel he was singing for you alone. As I said, I wasn’t a huge fan, but his star quality was undeniable.

Oddly, what I remember most about the gig in Utrecht was INXS’s guitarist, who I thought was a fine thing. And their saxophonist, who wore cool specs.

I wish I had a recording of the show.

Update (8/2/2003):

Turns out I do have a full recording of the show and the date of the concert was February 16, 1988. It was just after Need you tonight had gone to #1 in the States and one or two months before they broke Europe. They were back in Holland on June 30th, playing the much larger Ahoy arena.

England and Guernsey, late 60s

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{…and that’s the only time you’ll see me wearing a skirt}

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Apologies for this burst of nostalgia. I restored these photos from tiny inch-sized prints and am just enjoying the full picture, so to say. Wasn’t everything just perfect in the 60’s…

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Sontolojoh!


More from the treasure trove. This is my grandfather, “Opa Dam”. Playing Bridge, one of his passions. His full Christian name was William Kodama Leopold. The middle name is Japanese. His mother named him after some Japanese general and it saved my granddad’s hide once when Japanese soliders caught him out after curfew, in the war.

Opa Dam tried to teach me to drive once, in a parking lot not far from where my grandparents lived in Amsterdam. I drove forward. I drove backward. I parked the car. Then I forgot where the brake was and the car very quietly bumped against a tree leaving a dent in the fender.

I’d expected him to get angry and shout ‘Sontolojoh!’ at me. I’ve no idea what that means, but he used to shout it a lot at us, his grandchildren, or at the telly, watching football. He said it didn’t mean anything, that he’d made it up. I didn’t believe him and thought it probably meant something really, really bad.

He didn’t shout at me. I said I was sorry. Then we went home and never spoke about it again. He probably put some money in my hand later on when I left. He always did that.

That was the last time Opa Dam tried to teach me to drive. He never did tell my grandmother.

I remember my grandmother, Oma Lien (Caroline… I was named after her), always wringing her hands, worrying about her kids and grandchildren.

Here she is, third from the left. Smoking a cigarette. When I grow my hair, it looks exactly like that only more straight and less dark. I don’t think I ever heard her yell at any of us. She was sweet and quiet and sometimes a little batty and maybe she wasn’t the greatest cook, but it was always there and always ready for me and all the friends I brought to meet my grandparents.

Anything I needed, silly things I wanted, whether books or kitchen ware, they’d provide me. Whether from their own shelves or from the shops, all I had to do is ask.

I wish I had asked them to tell me about themselves some more.