Archive for October, 2008
First, the logo of Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize, and the England football team’s badge.
Now, the lions from those graphic images with their tails straightened out.
As you were.
My friends Johnny and Tanja and the good people over at Spreeblick have come up with a neat little thing based on my A Year of Streets project. If you click on the day and month, it takes you to a Google Map of the street. Sweet. And hurrah for them that they put it online on 3rd October, the anniversary of German Reunification.
It’s in German, but you’ll get the idea quite easily here. There are a few streets which might not come up, but when compiling the project, I didn’t always use Google Maps to find the streets.
Here’s a story that I wrote in 2001. At the time I think I was probably going to illustrate it, but I now know I’ll never bother to do that. I gave it a bit of an edit and spellcheck and present it here for you, should you want to waste ten minutes of your life. It’s a bit childish. Word doc if you want to print it.
Hip hip hip hooray
The Sun lives in the sky. He works there in shifts with his friend the Moon. The Sun enjoys his job.
One day, the Sun was preparing to go to work as usual; brushing his teeth, combing his fiery flames, and putting on his rays.
He left his space house. It was a fairly big house, with a nice rockery made of meteorites, and a red swing that he bought for when his nieces and nephews come to visit.
Outside the gate, he bumped into the Moon, who was on his way home from work, and they had a brief chat about this and that. The Sun wished the Moon a good night, and the Moon wished the Sun a good day, and the Sun continued to his position in the sky, whistling all the merry way.
Today, I feel great, he thought, so he emailed the clouds and told them that they could take a day off.
(Although Sun is not in charge of the sky, he, along with Moon is a Sky Manager. The real boss of the sky is something of a mystery. Some people think it’s a dude called God, but neither Sun or Moon have ever seen him, so if he does exist, they figure he’s a bit like Charlie out of “Charlie’s Angels,” constantly hanging out by the pool with chicks in bikinis).
So all the clouds went off to where clouds go when they are not needed: the playground. They like to rain on each other and play silly games.
The Sun noticed that when the clouds went away, lots of people started smiling. He liked seeing people smile.
As the day went on, more and more people came out of their houses to play in the parks and the playgrounds. Lots of people went to the seaside, too.
Some people built sand castles, some ran around with kites, some played with frisbees, and many people played with balls of all colours and sizes. In the water, people swam, sailed, surfed, and water-skied. Other people just lay down, closed their eyes and went to sleep with smiles on their faces.
The Sun was happy. Although, when he started to think about it, the Sun was a bit lonely. He had no one to play with. He saw people having fun and wanted to have fun too.
He wondered if the Moon would come out to play, but when he ‘phoned him, it went straight to the answer phone. The Sun put the phone down. He felt even lonelier. A tear rolled down his cheek and quickly vapourised with a little “tssssst” sound.
Then, suddenly, the Sun had a brilliant idea. I’m a Sky Manager, he thought, so I can do what I want! I’m going to go down and play with the people. The Sun was pleased with his brilliant idea, and wondered why he’d never thought of it before.
The Sun rummaged around in his rucksack, found his sunglasses, and floated down to the beach. As he got closer, he noticed lots of people moving out of the way and standing in a huge circle to watch him land. Even the waves took a few wet steps back. “Ooh,” said Sun, “a welcoming committee! This will be fun.”
When he landed, the Sun wanted to play straight away, so he spoke excitedly to a little boy, “Throw me the ball!”
The boy threw the brightly coloured beach ball towards the Sun, but when the Sun stuck out his hands to catch the ball, it burst. Then it melted. Then it was reduced to the tiniest of tiny atoms. Then it was gone.
The little boy’s smile turned upside down. Then he opened his mouth really wide, and started wailing, “Muuuuuuummmmmmy!” The Sun scratched his head and wondered why the child was so unhappy. So he decided to go for a swim. He put on his Teflon-coated armbands, (the Sun wasn’t a very good swimmer, he didn’t even get his 10 metres badge), and walked towards the sea.
The waves of the sea moved further and further away. The Sun stopped walking. And so the waves stopped retreating. The Sun started walking again, and the waves moved backwards again. Lots of surfers looked at the Sun angrily, as they were suddenly hanging ten flat on their faces in wet sand.
“Hmmm, I don’t think I want to swim after all,” said the Sun, and dejectedly turned around and walked back to the beach, noticing that his feet fit perfectly into the big footprints made of glass in the sand. When he got back to the beach, there was no one there. The Sun felt lonely again. “Why does no one like me?” he sniffed.
What with the Sun being on the beach, the sky had turned dark. This woke the Moon up, because darkness to the Moon is like brightness to you and me. He rubbed his tired eyes, yawned, opened the curtains and sat down at the table to eat his cornflakes. As he took a mouthful, it dawned on him – which is strange, because usually things dusk on him – “It’s completely dark outside. I must have overslept,” he said to himself. He looked at his watch. It was 11.30 a.m.
The Moon took a deep deep breath, exhaled slowly and let out an long “Hmmmmmmmmmm” whilst rubbing his chin. (He’d seen this in a film once. He knew that’s what actors did when they wanted to look like they were thinking hard. The Moon loves films. “Beverley Hills Cop” is his favourite film of all time. Ever. Ever ever ever. If you happen to meet the Moon, get him to do his Eddie Murphy impression. It’s very good.)
Moon’s eyes flicked from side to side, to show he was thinking even harder. “If it’s 11.30 a.m. … and it’s dark outside … and I didn’t oversleep … and the Sun isn’t in the sky…” The Moon tried to put these clues together and come up with an answer. But he couldn’t because Moon isn’t very brainy.
Then the doorbell rang. Moon opened the door, and there in front of him was a cloud called Sally. He quite fancied her, so he leant against the doorframe like he was Don Johnson or something.
“Quick!” said Sally. “There’s a problem,” God boomed, “The Sun is at the seaside!”
“Flippin’ heck!” said the Moon, forgetting to be cool. Composing himself, he said, “Don’t worry, babe, the Moonman will sort this out.” Sally swooned a bit, and said goodbye as Moon flew off.
It was easy for the Moon to find the Sun, because he’s always the brightest thing in the sky. Today, though, he was the brightest thing on Earth.
The Moon hurried towards the Sun, and was soon sat beside him.
“Hello Sun” said the Moon gently.
“Hello Moon” the Sun sobbed.
“What’s wrong, Sun?” asked the Moon.
“All the people … sniff … they don’t … sniff … like me.” sniffed Sun.
Although the Moon wasn’t very clever, he was good with stellar beings, and was a good listener.
“Well, Sun,” he began, “the people all had fun because you were in the sky. You made it nice and warm for them, so they could come out, take off most of their clothes, and fool around.”
The Sun nodded. And sniffed.
“So, Sun,” the Moon continued, “I think you should go back up there, into the sky and keep on being happy for the people, so they can come out and play again.”
The Sun nodded. And sniffed, but not as much as before.
The Moon spoke again, “If the people are happy, they’ll all look up at you and smile.”
The Sun nodded. And stopped sniffing.
“Yes” he said quietly, “you’re right, Moon.”
Then the Moon hugged the Sun. And the Sun hugged the Moon back.
“Shall we go?” said the Moon.
“Yes,” said the Sun.
They both stood up, and floated back into the sky, which got brighter as they rose.
“Thank you, Moon” said the Sun.
“No problem, Sun. what are friend for?” said the Moon, as he kissed the Sun on his cheek, and flew off home to get back into bed.
/>The Sun smiled. He was happy cos the Moon was his friend.
And just as the Sun smiled, he noticed the people leaving their houses again, and going to the parks and playgrounds, and mostly to the beach.
The people were having fun. And they all looked up at the Sun. And they smiled. And the Sun smiled back.
Nothing gets your day off to a good start like a bowl of Coco Pops. Not every day, that would be a bit indulgent, but, if you’re sensible and don’t go hog-wild, it’s a great boost to your morning. I went to Brussels yesterday. I had no real plan, so I ended up going to see two things that I’ve seen before, but a fair few years ago: the Atomium and Mini-Europe.
I like the feeling in Brussels. There’s something about it that feels incredibly European. Obviously, it’s the home of the European Union, but I love the mix of Flemish and Frenchiness, the amount of different ethnicities you see there, and that they have subway stations called Jacques Brel and Eddy Merckx. The problem for me, though, is they all speak the French, and I don’t. I’m dislocating my brain sockets reaching for words that I learned at school.
Anyway: the Atomium. One of my favourite buildings. Built for Expo ’58, it’s a stunner. I’ve not seen it since it re-opened after a renovation in 2006. The aluminium balls were replaced with stainless steel balls. And even on a grey day like yesterday, it was super shiny.
Here’s a couple of comparisons of the old and new; photos I took in 2002 (with a real camera) and photos I took yesterday.
Nine euros to get in and the renovation job inside seems really nice. They’ve replaced the bits that looked like you were in a disused East German factory, but kept the feel of the place, and there’s a splendid exhibit of lots of artwork from the Expo. I adore these pins that indicate the languages spoken by interpreters.
Next door to l’Atomium is Mini-Europe. As you might’ve guessed from its name, it’s a miniature village-y type thing with lots of European buildings. A bit more professional-looking than the thoroughly-charming Mini Mundo in Gremado, Brazil. I love these things. And Mini-Europe is a great thing to visit should you ever be in Brussels. Although the selection of buildings is a bit odd at times. Not sure that Dover Castle and Longleat are particularly famous British buildings. Or are they? I don’t know. Still, it’s worth a visit if only for the crappy JCB truck that knocks down a little bit of the Berlin Wall. Made me chuckle, that.
More photos of the Atomium and Mini-Europe on my Flickr page.