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Thursday, February 10, 2011

On cities

Well, nowt much has happened since my last post. I've been really busy at work and haven't managed to write much. However, everything being grist to the old mill, I suppose it's worthwhile to point out that I've done quite a bit of travelling, including a trip to a place I've always wanted to visit: magnificent Vienna.

I really love the 'flavour' of great cities. You get this in London and Edinburgh, but on the whole I find British cities rather generic. With their identical high street stores crowding out places of genuine and unique interest, there's only a handful that survive the merciless prevalence of Big Business.

Elsewhere, however, the situation's different . . . or perhaps *feels* different. In Seville or Stockholm or indeed Vienna, there's a sense of the soul of the places being allowed to breathe. Maybe that's because I'm not quite so attuned to the high street logos of foreign companies (except for the universal, the ubiquitous inverted sagging tits of McDonald's). Anyway, my original point was this: great cities have great atmospheres. They work on you like a great work of art.

In Seville, it's all fiery, gaudy impact, with insane cathedrals, living-tower palm trees and Catholic iconography. In Stockholm, the lines are fine, the colours pale and insidious, and the architecture unmarred by unrestrained designers. And in Vienna - well, we're talking *grand* here. The whole of European strife is here, and then some. Monuments to the big thinkers, the big movers of previous countless centuries abound. One street seems so packed with magnificent buildings, it seems a shame they weren't more evenly distributed around the country, in some impractical act of national democracy. I loved it all. Had my photo taken with Beethoven (deceased), went dining in the city hall, walked through the night to the strains of Strauss as countless youngsters skated on an outdoor rink . . .

Flashbulb memories. It's what our futures are about. On reflection when we're old, we'll only remember the stuff that really got there, deep underneath our latter-day cynical frames of mind. So glad I went.

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