In Search of A/The Point of Life

OTHER CITIES

DEFENCE OF THE REALM: Running into bloodcurdling mannequins and pigeon-espionages. And Alan Turing, of course.

A couple of Fridays ago, on 26th November, we made a little trip out of Nondon, to visit Alan Turing’s playground in the legendary Bletchley Park. This was our very first time in the National Codes Centre, and our very first time in the new town of Milton Keynes as well. Both were – how could we possibly articulate this in a diplomatic way? – interesting.

Apart from playing a vital role in the second world war as the UK’s primary decryption centre, Bletchley Park is also known as the ‘birthplace of the computer age’, as claimed by the poster displayed in Hut 8 (as seen in the image above).  Hut 8, of course, was also where Mathematician Alan Turing worked. Like many, we are lured to the complex and, indeed, enigmatic Turing for several reasons, including how the Father of Computer Science was an obsessive AND VERY HIGHLY ACCOMPLISHED marathon runner, and who apparently conceptualised the beginnings of the modern computer in the middle of his run. The park itself was legendary alright – in that it actually looked locked in time, in roughly the period of WWII and perhaps, up to the 1970s at the very most. Look, for instance, at the numerous mannequins on display- what are they if not camp and scary? That the park was populated by otaku-type middle-aged men taking very diligent notes of the machinery and toys on display,  in the midst of a rather frigid Friday afternoon in a somewhat godforsaken place, also added to the sense of uncanniness that we felt. Our highlight of the day was the sight of  this poster, which condemns the ‘killing, wounding or molesting‘ (italics ours – BUT we SWEAR THE WORD WAS SCREAMING AT US IN ITALICS ALRIGHT) of homing pigeons. Anyone found fondling these sassy birds in an inappropriate manner against their consent will have to sit in jail for 6 months or be fined £100 (which must have been a lot of money  – we don’t mean to sound condescending – ‘in those days’). SHAME ON YOU, PIGEON-MOLESTER!!! Now go stand in your naughty corners, beside the scary parade of mannequins!! Oh, and put on that anorak (why else would it be there on the wall??) and cover your filthy, putrid little brains!!!!

By the time we made our way to Milton Keynes central late in the afternoon, the weather had become even more frigid. We trrrrrembled in pain as we walked/stumbled down the very wide streets, which somewhat resembled boulevards that are normally found in Paris (courtesy of Hausmann – better for the horses to trample on delinquent Parisiens), or the West Coast, rather than what we would normally experience in this sceptered isle. Would we run here? YES YES YES! The lovely wide roads look most inviting. Our ‘running goggles’ that we wear to filter every city were flashing and glowing excitedly. Would we want to live here? … ellipsis … We figure that we would not die if we lived here  – but perhaps worse that that we might live as if dead, or deadened, as we imagine we would in any city that is less than large/overcrowded/anonymous/mixed/always-changing/can’t-be-pinned-down-as-they-escape-easy-definitions, although of course we cannot and must not judge any place so quickly could we (that said, time does not guarantee good or better judgement – whatever that might be- and can infact invariably impede judgement…).

Yet, each and every of the cab driver that we encountered had moved there from an other city or country, and each sang praises of this new town (‘Everything that you need in life, you can get it here’;  ‘I moved here for a fresh start, from zero, after walking out one day on my marriage of 23 years’).

Ground zero, or as if ground zero (since total, complete erasure is never possible – hence the interesting, difficult-to-pronounce word: palimpsest), as if in a new land, as if tabula rasa, as if without histories, as if new, as if new encounters, as if new beings.

We have always liked that.

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BRIGHTON ON THE ROCKS: In July, we asked for your advice for a short trip outside of Nondon; here is our VERY LATE postmortem!

It is already Winter as we speak and we are already nearly ALL OF  12-MONTHS OLD as we speak, but so many things have been happening in our lives that we haven’t had time to follow up and/or update you. If you recall, we asked for your kind advice over Summer for a simple day-trip out of Nondon, our favourite city on earth and beyond, and many of you very kindly wrote in to offer tips. MUCH THANKS FOR THAT, AND THAT!!! In the end, we took up the advice of Susan Collins, and visited Brighton for a day (THANK YOU SUSAN!). The day before we left, we also memorised the melody and lyrics of Brighton Rock by Queen, who is our favourite (and to our mind only valid) royalty.

Unfortunately, Brighton didn’t rock on this day we visited Brighton. Not only did it not rock, it was downhill, worse than a pathetic pebble or a piece of booger-looking plasticine also shat upon by a stray dog. It rained. And not only did it rain, it rained like it was nobody’s business. On and on. Already wearing our swimsuit underneath our clothes, since 5am when we woke up that morning (for the less-than-cheap coach bus that runs on ungodly hours) we went absolutely ballistic when rain hit hard, full on, at 9am when we arrived. Not only did we feel betrayed, we felt frocking humiliated. As you well know, we have been working bloody hard and running/living harder, and have not had the chance to have any break since our birth on 12.12. 2009, and the one single day we went on one, on a day which was technically defined as belonging to the season of Summer, so-called ‘Mother Nature’ has to screw it up.  Mother my foot. We felt sad too, as this was meant to be a trip we take with you, our Dear Co-Runners. We hurled all the ‘your mother’ insults we ever knew at the sky, stone, rocks, everything else, while ogling extremely jealously at runners going up and down along the coast. The above image shows the GPS record of our infuriated, heavy and sulky tracks. In pink.

Being tough (stale, even?) cookies that we are, in the face of setbacks, we can only be even more defiant. In the past week, when snow has made Nondon cold, miserable and ‘classic grey (or gray) Nondon’, we have continued our running, albeit all wrapped up as Michelin Man, along with his (defiant) smile. In reference to the ‘mountain’ of earth imprisoning them for nearly 70 days, one of the famed (ex-) ‘Chilean miners’ Edison Pena explains, ‘I could just lie down, but my fury has been channelled into a hatred towards this mountain. … I wanted the mountain to get bored, seeing me run … I am not defeated. I am fighting. I feel that by running, I am fighting to live’ [1]

1 year into our venture, we are so spent and pent-up that we MUST GET OUT OF OUR BELOVED NONDON AND HAVE A BLOODY BREAK. Yes we swear. So we will consult your list of advice. Perhaps we will (re-)visit Brighton, in the deep of Winter, and jump into the ocean for a dip, in utter defiance. Lubed and all wrapped up, like MM.

Oh yes.


[1] These are the words of the miner in one of many love letters he wrote to his girlfriend while he was trapped. Fiona Govan, ‘Chile Miners Attend Mass at San Jose Mine’, Telegraph.co.uk, 17 October 2010. [accessed 1 November 2010].


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Kaidie shoots shooters shooting Gil Vicente shooting the queen and bush at the 29th Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil, October 2010. All very worthy killings indeed.

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KAIDIE AT SOFT BORDERS: UPGRADE! CONFERENCE. Kaidie’s Rough Guide to Non-Nondon Cities: Sao Paulo.

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Kaidie’s Rough Guide to Non-Nondon Cities: Sao Paulo: DEMONS slash GODS slash TOP slash BOTTOM

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WE HAVE RUN AND COMPLETED OUR FIRST LIFE 1.0 MARATHON, FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE PILGRIMS. Thank you all for your support and donations! BIG THANK YOU to the organisers too!

PS We must also congratulate Team Carter, led by one of the organisers, HILLARY CARTER who was running with his son Henry and wife Trisha. This was Trisha’s first marathon, and Hillary’s ONE HUNDREDTH!! Hence qualifying him to the prestigious 100 marathon club. How very inspiring indeed. Watch out Hillary, HERE WE COME! 99 more for us to go (hopefully within this lifetime?)! We also put up a review in Runner’s World and note that we are definitely not alone in our appraisal of the amazing event!

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DAY 45: KAIDIE’S ROUGH GUIDE TO WINTERTHUR (KAIDIE, THE TOURIST OF LIVES 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, ENJOYING THE WINTER DELIGHTS OF WINTERTHUR).

Bonechilling winter alongside warm sunny sunshine with white snowcoveredeverywhere with art, music, sports, nature, animals, cats, good studio space, good food, and good wine puts Kaidie in certain good spirits in Winterthur. Allow me to list down some of the highlights of my residency at the wonderful Villa Straeuli so far, just so that we could pat ourselves at our backs and fronts and insides and outsides and bottoms and tops and laptops and armflaps and thighbacks. As I said before, Life 3.0 is a  bloody good life, and, as I said before, envy me not, and as I said before, I said before. I have.

My very elusive happiness plugin came kicking in when I was running at the lovely Lindberg Hill, as I was happy to be back on my feet again, if ever-so-slowly. Running remains one of the best ways to have a swift panoramic introductory view of any city – across the local neighbourhood to the city central, hideaway corners  not mentioned in any guidebooks (EXCEPT KAIDIE’S, THAT IS!) to pockets of nature,  smiling back to 1 or 2 locals (out of the 100,000) who smile at you (probably because they are thinking, ‘who might this sweating, panting silly stranger be?!’ and yes looking slightly dishevelled as a visitor but literally close to the ground, one foot after the other.

Another reason for the joy was because my new travel-mate Mini, the Garmin navigator, finally found the Winterthur satellites and began doing what it is supposed to do! That said, it still is temperamental and fails to work consistently. IF GARMIN OR ANY OF ITS RIVAL BRAND IS READING KAIDIE’S TRAVEL BLOG, PLEASE HAVE THE COURTESY TO SPONSOR HER YOUR LATEST BESTEST MOST HIGHTECH NAVIGATOR.  A  lightweight one that also calculates heartbeat and distance preferred. Product placement guaranteed. Contact Kaidie NOW!

Winterthur

Lindberg is one of the 7 hills in Winterthur. From the top one can get a nice view of Winterthur. I also visited the other hill, the Bruderhaus Wildpark, and took some videos of my friends, which I will share in another posting. (We should be disciplined and distribute our pleasures, should we not, my Dear Readers?). Speaking of being on top, we also went up to the Roter Turm which also offers a nice panoramic view of Winterthur, at 483 m above sea level. The view is greatly enhanced with delicious white beers and even more so with the even more delicious Rieslings. Since we are at it, let us rub it in and make Kaidie a good food/drinks critic-cum-Rough Guide writer, by allowing her to add that the french fries at Irish pub Paddy O’Briens, just 1 minute 15.672 seconds walk from Villa Straeuli, was nicely heartchokingly fried. Devour with relish or eat plain. Thank god for the Irish diaspora! And while we are at it, thank god(s) for the Indian and Chinese diasporas too for our tandooris and wokwingfry chopped panda takeaways (vegan organic versions with black and white hair removed via brazilian waxing available on request) and singaporean (sic) flied lice. And yes, Swiss chocolates is not bad. Not bad at all. I would usually prefer dark (70% and above) chocolates, but Swiss milk chocolates is quite heavenly indeed. Cut thin, its taste is light but deep and sophisticated as well, and makes you want to buy up aaaaalllll the chocolates off all the Coop supermarket shelves  – if only the CHF isn’t so frightfully high. To eat as breakfast, pair chocolates with strong espresso or a frothy cappuccino with mountains of chocolate shavings. For brunch, pair with rose champagne; lunch, with Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc; tea, with Merlot or Shiraz; dinner, with straight vodkas; finally finish off with a large supper serving of Singapore slings, which is most appropriate, since Singapore is said to have modelled itself on Switzerland. (So, how’s Kaidie’s food critic skills so far??)

But of course, Kaidie in Life 3.0 is civilised, cultured and terribly artistic. I was delighted to have been reacquainted with some of my old friends at the Museum Oskar Reinhart, such as Goya and his fish, Van Gogh and his Arles, Cezanne with lots of fruits and/or mountains, or both, and the brilliant El Greco and his Cardinal.  This was just one of the many cultural institutions (including Villa Straeuli) set up by wealthy industralists of Winterthur.  I also had the pleasure of attending one of the weekly Saturday morning music concerts at Villa Straeuli. The sonorous sounds of the cello and the double base illicit profound poignancy as it does pure, pure joy. (Such a contradictory combination/clash/conflict occupies a most powerful state of in-between, the same spot where the frigid subzero temperature sits alongside the warm sunshine, where a Boltanski installation, a Chris Marker film  or a Glenn Gould rendition hits, and where Life 3.0 lies – ideally).

Coincidentally, Gould is quoted at an exhibition at the Fotomuseum, by Becky Beasley for her work Curtains (I) 2009:

There have been many occasions when I have recorded something and I have come into the studio at 10 o’clock on a Monday morning and really been in 16, not just 2 different minds, but 16 different minds as to how it should go.

Indeed. So go all 16 ways.

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