winter approaches

At Nymphenburg with Barry

i’ve returned to münchen after just over 3 weeks in the uk. in my absence the trees have shed nearly all of their leaves, revealing hidden playgrounds and gardens, buildings, views into lower windows, the railway line nearby. at schloss nymphenberg, little wooden houses have been placed over all of the statues to prevent damage from ice. andy’s car now has its winter tyres on. it’s dark at 5pm. it must be winter, but it isn’t very cold – yet.

my uk visit was mostly to work on make-shift, which paula & i gave a preview presentation of on 29th october after 2 pretty intense weeks of refining the material, technical problem-solving, and gathering the necessary equipment. for two weekends we were “in residence” at greenwarren house, the home of beaford arts, in the small north devon town of beaford. i can highly recommend the globe inn at beaford, which has a surprisingly extensive menu for a village pub, with plenty of vegetarian options.

i managed to catch up with some of my australian relatives who were visiting the uk, & also went up to edinburgh to see a man about a (possible) fellowship. i lived in edinburgh ten years ago, & had only been back once since then – for lunch – so it was great to have a few days to wander about auld reekie; lots of good memories came flooding back. i was surprised how little had changed – there is the gaping hole in the old town where the gilded balloon burnt down a few years ago, & at the top of leith walk what was a gaping construction site for many years is now a glass & metal cinema & shopping complex. the other major change is still in progress, and that’s the new tramline. much of the roads in the centre are dug up for this, & a shiny new tram is sitting on the tracks on princes street.

as well as having a tour of the edinburgh college of art & discussing my possible fellowship proposal, i caught up with friends & did some much-needed relaxing, one evening at the movies & another watching videos with the friends i was staying with. i also made it over to glasgow to have lunch with diane torr, who has just published a book about about her drag king performance practice and workshop, “sex, drag and male roles”. a copy of it is sitting by my bedside – i haven’t started it yet because i’m so busy with things for make-shift, but next week i’m going to belgrade for a few days (for another book launch) so i’m saving it to start on the plane.

meanwhile germany has been full of internal termoil. a couple of weeks ago the country was shocked when police over-reacted at a peaceful protest in stuttgart, against the proposed costly and unnecessary rebuilding of the main station; water cannons were turned on the crowd, and many people suffered serious injuries including some who lost their eyes. this week, media attention has been focussed on the north of germany where thousands of anti-nuclear protestors are attempting to stop the transportation of nuclear waste, by train and truck, from nuclear power stations to a waste depot near lunenburg. and this weekend in nuremburg, there is a demonstration against changes to health insurance that will see employees carry a much larger share of the cost than their employers. even the uk is having its share of demonstrations, with students up in arms about drastic tuition fee hikes. it reminds me of my days as student president at otago …