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Remember, remember, …

While waiting for my next module (January 2014) at Goldsmiths I thought of enrolling to the Ways into creative writing class at City Lit.

So, after a couple of weeks’ keen anticipation I finally found myself contentedly amidst my new creative-writer-student-colleagues. Then suddenly and without any warning shortly after the lesson started a sudden paralysing feeling of terror rushed through me – the result of having been informed that 1. not only should we complete a 10 minute writing exercise, but 2. read it aloud to our new classmates.

That was it. Thoughts of shall I stay or shall I go were racing through my head – similarly nerve-racking like Formula One’s Vettel and Alonso racing and competing for victory. Come on girl, I thought, act like an adult. So I stayed put and for the next 30 minutes tried very hard to remember something fairly entertaining. Naturally, during that time I was only half listening to our tutor. Disappointingly the only thing that kept coming to my mind was the image of the severely corroded valve of my ancient boiler. Just a few days earlier that same valve was the culprit of tripping the RCD switch, as water silently dripped into the electric part of the valve.

In the end I did produce and present a short piece. However, instead of my desperately intended wish for describing an interesting and fun childhood memory (I sooo wanted to impress my new classmates!) I only just managed to describe my experience of a boiler break down – an inconvenience feared by many with many more probably still recovering from their own traumatic memories of getting a non-working boiler repaired.

For homework we were asked to complete three further I remember and one I don’t remember pieces, which I wrote on a train traveling to Glasgow. The following I remember … piece was presented (word limit 500) the following week:

the willow tearoom_Galsgow  highland cow2 

I remember my first visit to Glasgow. It was in late September 1995. I still have the one week bus pass and  when I look at it, it reminds me of my first impressions of the city which I would visit many more times.

The air being fresh and crisp compared to the car-polluted smoke in London, for example. The air in Glasgow reminded me of the air in Austria. Yet on a couple of days Glasgow’s air would smell peculiar. I was told that my nose had picked out the scent of malty Whisky coming from some long slim chimneys of the malting house of a Whisky distillery in Glasgow. 

I remember visiting Rennie Macintosh’s tea room, sipping Earl Grey Tea and eating delicious cakes.  Glasgow reminded me of Vienna with its beautiful Art Deco buildings and welcoming coffee shops. It felt strangely familiar and comforting sitting in that busy tea room with its cheerful waiters.

  I remember Pollok Park, a huge country Park within Glasgow and visiting the Burrell collection. Inside this huge park I saw Highland Cows or coos for the first time.

I remember feeling sheer joy and excitement watching the beautiful, big eyed fluffy beasts, who were munching graciously the lush green grass of the park’s meadows. After some encouragement they would approach the fence and I could touch their soft long brown hair. Their hair on the head fell lightly over their big brown eyes. I instantly fell in love with them.

I liked J’s mum Margaret, a soon-to-be-70-year-old-no-nonsense-woman, who enjoyed sipping Whisky that was mixed with the very sticky brightly orange coloured Scottish national soft drink IRN-BRU, whilst playing cards. I remember the three of us playing either Domino’s, Chinese Patience or Trumps and Margaret uttering Och, I don’t know! ever so often to fill some of the silences. I remember asking J what it was that Margaret didn’t know.

tea and buiscuitI remember that on my first visit Margaret offered me Tea or coffee, hen? She would emphasize that I was a guest and guests were served unlimited cups of tea or coffee. I especially liked the big plastic container, which was the home to any kind of biscuits imaginable and the faithful companion of the freshly brewed afternoon tea served in a medium-sized stainless steel teapot. As soon as the plastic lid was removed a sweet smell of chocolate, toffee and sugar filled the air of Margaret’s sitting room and I enthusiastically accepted  her offer to There you go hen, take a biscuit hen.

However, within a couple of days I would no longer be a guest but a git. So, to ensure to stay in the good books I had to fulfil my part of duty in putting the kettle on. Once the water had boiled and the … popped I poured the freshly boiled water over 3 teabags, which were carefully placed at the bottom of the stainless steel pot, before placing it on the electric stove where the tea could finally brew. It was important that the tea would not brew too long but just enough. A terrifying task for a novice tea-drinking-Austrian.


La flor de mi secreto

Having seen many Almodovar movies I couldn’t resist the temptation to watch “La flor de mi secreto” on a big screen during the Spanish Film Festival. Previously, probably about 12 years ago, I watched the movie on video on my small TV. Then I just started learning Spanish, then I watched the whole film without subtitles, and missed a lot. A lot, if not all, of the fantastic dialogues.

On a Tuesday evening 12 years later – equipped with more Spanish – I  sat inside the cinema at the French (!) Institut. This time I could follow all the dialogue…but not because my Spanish had improved that much, but because of the English subtitles, and gosh, did I enjoy that evening!

“La flor de mi secreto” was introduced by the wonderful Marisa Paredes, (winner of 3 x Best Actress) who would also join the audience after the screening for a short 30 min Q&A session.

At the end of a wonderful evening I concluded that it is hard to believe that Almodovar’s „La flor de mi secreto“ is already 18 years old…for me this tragic comedy is fresh and colourful and after having watched all of Almodovar’s movies I got surprised after realising that the black novel (plot: a young mother’s  daughter kills her husband because he tried to rape her, the corps ends up in a fridge) in the movie has the same plot as Almodovar’s “Volver”!!

Before falling asleep that night, I tried to decide which one of the many scenes is to be my favourite one. But I couldn’t. I loved the movie from start to finish. However, I did select the following 3 scenes that particularly stuck to my mind.

1. When the junkie tries to take off Leocadida (Leo’s) boots – you can just about see that one boot comes off but is quickly pushed back on :-).

2. When Leo visits her sister’s (Rosa) small apartment, which she shares with her husband and mother. Look out at how Rosa dresses and has her hair done.

3. After a great artistic performance of Leo’s household help and her son (Joaquin Cortes) we see Rose again dressed up to the occasion and having come straight from the hairdresser, fantastic scene!!

Scence “en casa de Rosa”