Saturday, 8 August 2015

The light

We're home again, and I am throbbing with the loss of the amazing light on that shore. The Øresund is utterly astonishing in its capacity to grab the light from the skies and massage it and work on it and then throw it back out at the heavens, so that the colours of the sky or the clouds are constantly reinterpreted and swept in to your feet by the waves, and the radiance - the sheer, shining, uplifting brightness of it is flung and bounced and caught and threaded and hung all about you.  Sometimes everything was purple. Sometimes blue. Or red. Or green, or pale arctic blue. But always mesmerising. I tried making paintings of it, and I tried photographing it, but none of the images come anywhere near the ecstatic emotional quality of actually being there.

I tried painting some of the little smack-boats in the harbour .

And I tried painting the beach just along from Chris and Bente's house - children and teens in the water, the little jetty, the black edge of the harbour. Please don't let my amateur attempts put you off, if you are of a mind to go and see for yourself.

We had supper in a fish-cafe by that harbour. Chris must have had wine before he arrived and was flirtatious with little girls, and did a tiny stomping dance to draw attention to himself.  Relatives can be embarrassing. The food was delectable - crab, hot-smoked salmon, haddock done like sugar/salt pickled salmon and cut into thin fragrant slices. Nice chips too - these are getting more and more difficult to find, in my experience; the cooks use the cheapest spuds with least flavour, and cheap oil which is frequently rancid or over-heated, and then they do it all too fast and without finesse.  When you get a good chip, as for instance, you can at the Gunton Arms in North Norfolk, it's so rare and so wonderful that they should ring peals of bells in honour of the moment.

Yesterday, going home, we went back towards Copenhagen and the airport in some trepidation because the news reports said the police had shot a man believed to have killed two people and the lines into the city were closed. On the train we heard that a railway employee had been mugged at 4am, tied up with tape and dumped in a luggage rack....  It seemed so completely alien in that sweet, gentle, civilised place, that nearly-English-looking and sounding country, where you rarely hear children cry and there is a powerful sense of community..... But, nonetheless, the violence and the madness are there, just under the surface. As I had been reading (and partly reporting to you) this land was the home of violence, for centuries - swift, brutal, organised or random, merciless..... And we had been relaxing and enjoying the most luxurious and gentle of holidays, forgetting about the murderous hatred which powers so much of the world.  

We went onto a very very very wide and shallow and flat tourist boat to have a cruise round the 'canals' (docks) in Copenhagen and gawped at the stunning modern architecture - the opera-house, the black diamond (library), the Maersk building, the bank..... Gorgeous. This city has never turned its back on the water the way English town have: Faversham! Take note!!!!!  The Danish Royal Yacht lies at anchor, pure 1930s with some radar on top and lots of gold decoration. How lovely.   We met with a friend for lunch - ate at the rooftop resto in the old Post Office building...   More pickled fish and pretty and tasty bits. A wedding party arrived - flowers were put on the tables for them, and the bride looked very beautiful in tight white lace, and about eight and half months pregnant. We did not see a groom - maybe her family was giving her a 'wedding' all on her own.

Coffee sitting in a side street. A silver shop stuffed with beautifully shining and labelled antique spoons and trays and little pots. Art all over the place. Courtyards leading off courtyards leading off courtyards. The lawcourts with grand portico and steps all stinking of piss. Three dark men huddled on a mattress trying to sleep, tucked into each other's shapes like - well, spoons.  The loo in a fastfood resto proving to be rather disgusting and then actually breaking down - an anxious queue getting longer and longer - but the public loo across the street immaculately clean and with no-one using it. The crowds swirling around the Tivoli gardens, more litter than I remember from last time. Lots and lots and lots of foreigners - women in hijabs, black students, middle-eastern children...  And the Danes themselves, with a very distinctive style: young men with long hair and short beards, older men with grey beards, and often with soft cotton captain's hats, women with brutally short hair (and bad knees), lots of young women with very short shorts and lovely faces, a very large proportion of the public on bikes, bikes left everywhere and not always locked, lots of people on some kind of motorised skateboards... It's all very endearing and lovely (till someone starts killing someone else).

It was an odd thing that in this land of fabulous design and well-considered public convenience, the elevator to the Left Luggage dept at the main railway station is both far too small for the numbers who want to use it, and subject to those on the top two floors commandeering it so that those with luggage or bikes down in the basement (where the department is based) can almost never get their kit into it.  As a result, people are left lugging their bikes and their bags up a narrow, steep set of stairs, bashing each other and any passers-by, and missing their trains to boot. Very funny, unless it's you.

The plane was supposed to leave at 6.55 but in the event was well over 2 hours late, so our early arrival at the airport was a prelude to quite a long stay. We were glad to get away, to chase the sunset across to the west, and see it setting once, twice, three times as we achieved 38,000 feet heading into the darkness.  And home does seem dark, compared to Espergaerde. We have had sun all day here in Kent, but I am still thinking of that wide spacious silvery sea, that sizzling, tempting sweep of water, where the morning sun and the light of the day and the evening pours down and casts its spell. I wish I was still there.

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