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All Rhodes Lead To Genoa

June 27, 2019 11:38pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 16 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Travelogue Thursday!

You might have noticed I’ve been away. And you’d be right.  It might serve you to pay attention when I go on holiday as I have a canny knack of picking just the right time. 

Floody Hell

My first trip was a top secret, extremely last minute get-away to Rhodes in Greece. Timely to the point of divine wisdom because as I left on a rainy day to a glorious 30 C balmy island, England turned into a river of hell and non-stop rain den.  There were floods everywhere and not a drop to drink.  Needless to say, everyone despised me. 

I thought about their watery plight as I meandered through my own flood…

Which was tough.  And actually, my hotel was hard going.  Upstairs to the pool – up more stairs to the other pool. Downstairs to the beach, downstairs to the dining area. Up and down stairs more times than I’ve trodden a stair in all my life.  It took me three whole days to figure out that if I was going up and down stairs all the time that there had to be a non-stair route in the middle.  By which time my calf muscles had decided to knot into balls of steel and threaten to snap when going down the slightest of slopes.  When the Greek guy who drives the golf cart around the premises asks if you need a lift 100 yards away it’s safe to say that other guests have noticed your sluggish gait and whimpers.

Still, the waiter at the pool bar served up a spectacular antidote…

Despite this being all-inclusive, let’s buy it on the cheap cos the English are holidaying here, gin and tonic, I have to say that the sun and salty breeze made it taste out of this world.  So much so, I have returned with a new found desire for un-named liquor brands sold at Lidl mixed with inferior tonic.  Greece has a way of erasing the snobbery.

But when this is your view, how can it not?

I found a beautiful bay down the road at Kalithea Springs: perfect snorkelling, an elevated, horizontal bed, a vista, and butlers on tap providing Feta and Fanta within 17 minutes of a finger click.

But there comes a point when you need to get your hat on and out into the thick of it all.

I decided to descend on Lindos which is a beautiful and typical Greek fishing village. Like a true Knight I set out to see the Temple of Athena Lindia until I realised that 10,000 other people had too.

The heat was searing down and as I looked up the great mountainous walk to the Acropolis I spotted someone puking about halfway up and decided to give it a miss. Fortunately, I’ve been here before so bailing out didn’t seem so bad.  At the end of the day, the beauty and history of Lindos is not something you want to share with excessive crowds whilst boiling to death.  The whole essence of the place is spoiled by this along with the need for Greeks to open up a “Mikey’s English Food Bar” to attract tourists. I come on holiday to escape such things.  However, I walked the back streets and managed to avoid the madding crowd.

With more steps…

But much better cafes…

And a delectable door or two…

I’ve discovered all the things I love about life by extensive travelling but not in the way I thought I might.  It is by finding what I do not like that I have truly uncovered what I yearn for to calm body and soul.

Keeping it simple is what works for me and if you can manage to lose yourself in a Greek island, it’s almost perfect.

However, no time for that because I had to move on to the…

Italian Job

Bags unpacked, clobber washed, and back on the plane to Genoa.  The capital of Liguria.

Italy is one of my favourite places and Liguria in particular as I spent 3 months there back in my early 20’s.  I spoke wonderful Italian, hardly spent a penny, and ended up meeting a Mafia gang and bringing them back to England.  I must blog that story – it’s fabulous!

Anyway, what I particularly love about Italy is the food, the wine, the passion, and the go-slow tempo against a dramatic backdrop.  

Fresco and Frascati…

The best MacDonalds I’ve ever been inside was in Rome.  The building could rival the Trevi Fountain with its flamboyance!

I walked the dusty, cobbled streets in search of Bardolino and espresso, pasta and prosciutto and whatever Genoa had to offer.  Which, on the first night was utterly atrocious.  

Having stopped at a random cafe type restaurant that looked pretty nice, I found that I’d eaten better ravioli out of a smart-price tin at Asda.  The waitress was a surly bint with a severe hatred for tourists and had the audacity to bring me cold red wine.  In Italy.  That’s when I lost my shit.

“No.  I cannot possibly drink this,”  I stated – all snobbery back in full play. 

“You want it caldo?”

“No, I want it room temperature. It should complement the warm breeze of the evening.”

“You can ‘ave it ‘ot or cold.”

Wow. Where am I? Grimsby? I swear to God I nearly slapped her. 

 Fortunately, all righted itself and the next few days found me eating local dishes in beautiful places,  such as gnocchi pesto and focaccia for which Genoa is famous. 

saluté to that!

After a few hard-heeled days of scouting out the city, I took a train to Santa Margherita / Portofino for a day of seaside swag and sophistication. Pretty, idyllic, and very expensive.

As you can see, everyone else in Genoa had pretty much the same idea except they weren’t stupid enough to forget to bring a towel and have to pay a gazillion Euro for a sun-bed and a rag. But it’s still not as expensive as Copenhagen. That is going to take some beating. 

 

 

 

 

Dawning

June 11, 2018 2:40pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 22 Comments

A pale pink English rose

Watching him flutter around the seed holder was a beautiful distraction at 4. 30 in the morning.  Little Robin Redbreast. Nature made sure we could see that bursting glow from your chest and we humanise it as it is our nature to poetically do so. Little Robin: your heart was meant to scare and ours to scar, it seems. 

Wild seeds on the floor discarded in haste for those more succulent that took preference.  Snatching at the tastiest lest some other flighty friend may come and get the pickings. Skirting swiftly after feeding to a nearby rose to preen. Her pale pink petals offering delicate layers of softness. Curled and yellowing slightly at the edges despite her face being a few days old. So heavy, her pretty head, that it bows low to the ground in submission while buds of her own family reach up tall with robust new life. Fresh colour. 

Summer at dawn. New summer.  The beauty as it develops from the dainty hold of spring into an overnight swell. Everything vying for attention and singing out its glory. Brighter, bolder. Softer, sweeter.  The songs in the air piercing the early morning silence. Such peace, such heavenly peace, though momentary which makes it all the more delicious.

 Existing silently in that moment and soothing tired eyes that should be sleeping. Tired eyes set to become weary with necessity in but a few hours. Bare skin traced by gentle breezes allowing an awakening at the same steady pace that the sun throws out her kisses.

Thoughts. So many of them. Each tumbling over the other for priority. Some amalgamating and forming branches. Setting them free without reprimand and being able to whisper them to the unsullied sky without even talking. Silent messages sent out into the ether with a hope of answers. Dreams released and untangled where nobody can snatch them and put them into files marked X. Impossible possibilities clinging to the hope of a new day. 

Save A Smile For The Cowboy

April 9, 2018 10:04pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 16 Comments

The song playing in her car poked at the vulnerability evident in my chest.  Cool yet broken country boys moaning sweet melancholy from their hearts and connecting straight with mine as the car rocked gently in tune with the musical notes. It’s funny how you can connect with someone’s words without ever knowing them.  Just goes to show that if you’re in the same place as another you can feel them without even touching them. Empathy with strangers. 

I sat in the passenger seat as she drove along, lost in her own reverie. I watched as the trees passed by the window all dressed up pretty in their fairy lights; revellers behind them on the plaza protected by crisp white linen, sipping on fluted cold bubbles. A picture of sparkles. 

The evening boasted a perfect temperature: enough warmth to be comfortable as it eased back from its rage like the dying embers of an all-night bonfire.  I ran my hands down the thighs of my jeans, the abrasive denim cutting through the dampness of my palms.  I let out a loud sigh without realising which caused her to break from her mind-fill and glance over at me with a smile. 

 We stopped at the lights across from the big Honky Tonk dance hall. The parking lot filled with pick up trucks trying to outdo each other in height and stature. That made me snigger to myself. Silhouetted figures in cowboy hats stood in line eager to enter; the allure of pretty boots waiting to two-step and couple up under the glittering lights.  

“See the cowboys?” she nodded in their direction.

“I see ‘em,” I replied.

“Should we go for an hour?” 

“Not this time.”  

She shrugged and turned up the volume dial on her stereo. “Listen to this, ugh, I love it!” She placed a hand on her chest and took a dramatic intake of breath like the song had been written just for her.

I watched the line of cowboys disappear in the distance from the side mirror as she pulled away until only the glowing red, neon light of the dance hall sign was visible. It faded out quickly like a sunset behind the hills. 

“I feel like we should go dancin’.”  The excitement of the music and nostalgia urging her to chase dreams. 

As much as I loved the fun of the Honky Tonk I felt somewhat disconnected from it tonight and I didn’t want to end on disappointment.  She didn’t either, despite not realising that. 

“Not everyone who wears a Stetson and a pair of boots is a real cowboy,” I said. “A fair few of those guys probably never herded cattle in their life or even ever owned a horse. They’ll be back at work in some shiny loafers and suit come Monday with a pocket full of phone numbers and a list of possibilities.”

“True. I’ve met that kind before.”  She slumped a little in her seat as memories of bad apples leaped around her mind.  

“Remember the good ones who kept a piece of your heart,” I added, trying to shift her mood back to happier times.  

She smiled and tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. “The kind that make you feel like a princess!”

“Yeah. A princess in jeans and boots which is the best kind of princess.  The kind that says ‘Miss’ in front of your name like it ain’t polite to just refer to you in a straightforward manner.  He might call you ‘pretty lady’ though because that’s what he thinks and say ‘yes ma’am’ to your responses.  He’ll open your doors and tell you ‘that’s the way you break your arms’ if you try to do it yourself and he’ll want to hear all about you ‘cause he’ll think talking about himself ain’t proper. And there ain’t no way he’ll let anyone take your money for anything if you’re out with him no matter how much you insist.” 

“I knew one of those before and I’ll never forget him,” she replied softly as the car pulled up outside my townhouse. 

“They’re the kind you save a smile for when he asks you to.”  

I thought about that as I walked up the pathway to the hum of crickets and chirping tree frogs vibrating like the music in her car as she drove away.  When you meet a real cowboy he doesn’t need to ask because you can feel that smile waiting in your heart. 

The Good, The Bad, And So Ugly It Hurts

July 24, 2017 2:39pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher No Comments

At some time, whatever you wear to disguise yourself or hide from the world, someone will see the truth. That someone will push buttons so hard inside it will seem like all the demons from Hell are hungry for your flesh only. You will come to question yourself in a way you never did before and realise you don’t know yourself at all. In preference, you’ve invented a character that you believe best portrays you and at the same time protects you.

I’ve come to learn that this is the weakest form of survival.

When someone sees past your glow to the pasty-white face that longs for sunshine, let them see. They’ll notice the green in your eyes that was never there before because they understand how you covet the tenderness many share; how your eyes are circled by the darkness of trying to work it all out; eyes that stay ever open to fight the stark reality.

They’ll rip away at your armour until you hate them because their way is vicious and harsh and they dare to ask you what you’re afraid of. You will say that you don’t know. You’ll answer with trite remarks and they’ll witness your own self-betrayal as it bleeds into your face revealing the joker. And they will continue to punish you until you fight or flee.

Is that person a good investment? At this juncture, you probably won’t think so. In fact, you’ll be terrified, confused and want to run for the hills. You’ll try to repaint your picture but it’s too late.

And then it really is too late. And you’ll wish with all your soul that you could have confronted that person. Not to fight but to make peace. To share a knowing look and smile. To thank them for tearing you apart because they did it out of pure love. Because they wanted you to walk in beauty and have beautiful dreams. It’s only now, at this darkest hour you realise that and how dear it was to your heart.

Now you’re bereft with regret as your prize. There’s no sting like it.  Every choice has a price.

JS

 

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Personal Portrayal

June 10, 2017 3:08pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 21 Comments

street art

Satirical Snapshots Bringing you Art Philosophy At The Weekend!

What is art?  As a world renowned Art Philosopher I always pay close attention to personal art: things that people adorn themselves with, the  pictures they have on their walls and so on.  I like to analyse what they mean or interpret what somebody is trying to say about themselves.  So, if you ever invite me to dinner at your pad, know that I will be studying you and your stuff.

El Condo

Recently I stayed at an Airbnb in Houston, Texas.  I had a nicely furnished condominium right near the hip, Galleria area.  I found the wall hangings in this apartment very interesting.  Let’s have a gander:

Positive quote picture

Picture 1:  I quite agree with this sentiment but it works both ways.  So, If I think you’re an arsehole I’m not going to be afraid to tell you.

And next up….

Positive wall hanging

Picture 2:  How to make people feel useless and worthless. That’s a lot of pressure trying to find something amazing to do.  I suppose it depends on your concept of amazing.  Maybe actually getting yourself out of bed or remembering to pay the gas bill is amazing to you, but for me this means achieving something outstanding or experiencing insane amounts of fun.  Everyday? Prepare to be disappointed.

And the final wall hanging  in my apartment?

 

Head in clouds art

Picture 3:  The stairway to your mind is an uphill struggle. Don’t go there.  If you do, your wisdom will be clouded, it will be a wasted trip and your head will cave in. Why?  Because you didn’t do anything AMAZING today and you’re a failure.

Readers – I’d be interested in your analysis of this mental picture.

Is what?

Unfortunately, on the final day in my condo the air-con broke down and started to creep up to 85 in order to try and steam me to death. This is not funny in Texas, in summer.  I called out the owner who  spent ages trying to make it cool down to no avail. As a result, I did something amazing. I packed up my cases and left for a nearby hotel. Hotel Derek  had a very odd sign outside that I’d like to add to the art selection on this post.

Ready?

Derek Hotel Sign

Derek is what?

Such is the childish, British psyche that I was very tempted to go and find a big, black marker pen and write, ” A Wanker” underneath.

Maybe you can tell me what Derek is because I’m at a complete loss….

 

 

Anniversary Of An Art Philosopher

April 26, 2017 7:55am Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 21 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

It’s all about me.

This week is mine because it was my birthday t’ other day which always lasts for a week. Activity after activity.  I’m completely worn out already and it doesn’t end until Sunday.

As you can see from a section of some of my well wishes, people are a little confused as to my age. Am I 13, 30 or a 100? Looking at that armchair, pair of slippers and  glass of fine malt scotch, I think I’m happy to take a century.

I don’t know how these people dare be so cheeky to me. Their cards have been marked.

Phoenix nights

Phoenix Nights

For those of you that aren’t from the UK and may not have watched this show, let me explain.
Phoenix Nights is a British sitcom about a working mens club in northern England.
A few of my friends and family threw me a surprise party at such a place.

So, I got randomly invited to a “country night” at this local Miners Welfare by someone.

“What? Why in the hell would you want to go there?’ I asked.

“It’ll be a laugh! Come on!”

“No, it won’t. It’s not like a Honky Tonk in Texas, you know. It’s a shithole down the road.”

“So what! They’ve got a gig on, let’s have a look. We can go and take the piss and leave if we don’t like it. Wear your cowboy hat.”

I arrived at the said venue just to appease. When I walked inside there sat loads of my sneaky friends.

“Surprise!” You can say that again.

Apparently, before my arrival the “locals” were very sour -faced and most put out at a gang of rowdy revellers arriving. My clan had re organised the room creating a big circle of chairs and stealing tables for bottles of champagne, cakes and pressies. Bit like a wagon circle protecting themselves from Injuns. They were told under no uncertain terms, several times,  that there better not be any noise when the turn came on.

Well that worked out well. Half way through the night after line dancing on the wooden floor as “Travis” belted out his country classics on his bass guitar, I noticed that half of my friends were missing. I went in search only to find them huddled together in a quiet room in the back of the club.

“Are we boring you?” I asked.

“No! We got asked to leave for making too much noise. They’ve put an old geezer on the front door to stop us coming back in!”

My friends got barred from the Miners Welfare Club. Priceless.

In next weeks episode

You will be pleased to know that somebody bought me some horse riding lessons starting this Saturday. Cleverly booked on a morning right after a cocktail bonanza with my friends in the city the night before. Hungover on a horse may not be smart. However, I shall be taking my GoPro so I can show y’all next week how much horses hate me.

I’m now off to a spa all day. The last time I went to a spa I set fire to the table. Being the genius that I am, I tried to put the fire out with a paper napkin. You can imagine how that went.  I got asked to leave.

Getting barred from the most unlikely places seems to be a theme…

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