Monday, September 25th, 2023
Sunday, September 24th, 2023
Thursday, September 21st, 2023
Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Tuesday, September 19th, 2023
Sunday, September 17th, 2023
Tuesday, September 12th, 2023
Friday, September 8th, 2023
Lovers in a dangerous time
Being in Croatia last week got me thinking about the country’s history.
I remember the break-up of Yugoslavia, but I was quite out of touch with the news for a while back in 1991. That’s because I was hitch-hiking and busking around Europe with my musical partner Polly from Cornwall. I had my mandolin, she had her fiddle.
We went from Ireland to England to France to Germany to Czechoslovakia (still a single country back then), to Austria to Italy, back to France, and back to England. A loop around Europe.
We set off on August 21st, 1991. The only reason I know the date is because I remember we had been to a gig in Cork the night before.
Sonic Youth were playing in Sir Henry’s (a great venue that no longer exists). The support band was a group from Seattle called Nirvana. I remember that some of my friends decided to skip the support band to stay in the pub next door until Sonic Youth came on because the pints were cheaper there.
By the time Polly and I got back from our travels, Nirvana were the biggest band on the planet. It all happened very quickly.
The same could be said for the situation in Yugoslavia.
I remember when we were stuck for a day at a petrol station in the alps trying to get from Austria to Italy. There was a bureau de change listing currency exchange rates. This was before the euro came in so there were lots of different currencies; pounds, francs, lira, deutsche marks. Then there was the listing for the Yugoslav dinar. It read:
- We buy: 00.00
- We sell: 00.00
That really struck me, seeing the situation summarised so clinically.
But what really got to me was an encounter in Vienna.
Polly and I did well in that city. On our first evening of busking, not only did we make some good money, but we also met a local folk singer. This young man very generously took us in and put us up in his flat.
At some point during our stay, we were on one of the city’s trams. That’s when we met another young couple who were on the road. Somehow there was always a connection between fellow travellers. I can’t remember who spoke to who first, but we bonded straight away.
It soon became clear that our situations were only superfically similar. This was a young couple deeply in love. One of them was Serbian. The other was Croatian. It wasn’t safe for either of them back where they used to call home.
I could return home at any point. I always knew that when I was sleeping rough, or struggling to make enough money to eat.
They couldn’t return. All they wanted was to be together somewhere safe. They started asking us about Ireland and England. “Do you think they’d give us asylum?” they asked with so much hope. It broke my heart to see their desperation, the pleading look in their eyes.
I felt so useless. I wished there was something I could’ve done for them.
I think about them a lot.
Thursday, September 7th, 2023
Friday, September 1st, 2023
Sunday, August 20th, 2023
Monday, August 7th, 2023
Clicking through these cold war slides gives an uncomfortable mixture of nostalgic appreciation for the retro aesthetic combined with serious heebie-jeebies for the content.
The slides appear to be 1970s/1980s informational or training images from the United States Air Force, NORAD, Navy, and beyond.
Thursday, August 3rd, 2023
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023
Sunday, July 30th, 2023
Friday, July 28th, 2023
Thursday, July 27th, 2023
Wednesday, July 26th, 2023
Tuesday, July 25th, 2023