Saturday, 11 September 2010

Six hour train ride to Amsterdam from Berlin to meet Stephen of The Great Park for the start of our short lowlands tour. The rails took me through the industries and houses of Hannover and several automobile empire outposts, Wolfsburg et al, me shut up in a solitary silent compartment, reading and making notes, building a Dutch story of my own. (All of this accompanied by lucid histories of pre-mediaeval tribes, about Friesians and the mounds and structures they drew from the swamps, raising the land and building churches and trademarkets, livestock-pens and fisheries.)

Arrived at Amsterdam Zuid, brief struggles with signage and metrolines, but eventually found the hightrain out to Lelylaan and met Stephen. Wandered through suburban wildernesses, past mechanics and community centres and mosques, midrise reminiscences of south London, building facias, flat roofs and antennae. Then off to a precise flat, a balcony overlooking the city's people, spires and canals somewhere different. Stephen fetched Jessica, fresh in from Barcelona and introduced her with four songs of welcome, with tales of arrivals and leavings. My show was brief and fractured, surrounded by a small circle of people widening and contracting with the inconsistency of my sound, it felt like I was dredging again, like Friesiens pulling up clods of reeds and mud and slapping them down on top of one another. Not pretty but something was built, I suppose.

Then to the concrete angles and railings of the block's stairwells for far too much conversation and beer and more, watching the satellite dishes and blinking skylines and slow gulls, black against a sky set aglowing by some distant light. Laughing till split sides, plates and plates of white bread, impromptu disco manoeuvres before the inevitable. We three slept four short hours on irregular furnitures, waking at dawn to set out into a quiet Amsterdam morning already warm with sun.

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