Friday, 8 July 2011

Posting this a bit late as I've been in a relatively Internet-free zone here in Barcelona. Pictures and a bit about my time here at MedRen will follow!
July 4th, 2011

On the plane to Barcelona - it'll be my first time in Spain, and I'm quite excited. I packed ridiculously, with utter delight throwing far too many dresses and shoes into my biggest suitcase, which is normally reserved for transatlantic flights but in this case is coming with me because I've decided also to bring my printer. I'm giving a practice talk tonight and there will be comments, changes, and probably changes to my handout too, and it's much easier I think to bring my printer along and print everything I need than to stress about finding a shop that will print something out. At least, I thought it was genius but after having lugged it all over Basel airport I will admit to a few second thoughts... why can't they have a few wheely carts for hand-luggage?

I know it's been a while, but I've not got that much news. I've been chained to my computer writing this paper, confronted by the paradox that if I can conceive of the time even broken-down individual tasks take to complete, it's too daunting to start and I wind up staring at the wall. It's well-stared. So I convince myself a certain task will only take 2 hours and another 4 and by the end of the day I have to send apologetic emails to my proofreaders that not even the first task has been completed yet, sorry. Then I'm always running late, but a little bit saner. It appears to be a recognized strategy in the field of musicology at least; I can't tell you how many book acknowledgements I've read which have stated "If I'd known how long this was going to take I wouldn't have started" and then thanking/apologizing to their partners and children. I'm on a an acknowledgements page moratorium 'til I'm finished my Ph.D. dissertation. Which, by the way, I expect to only take me 18 months.

My only other news is that I've been swimming in the Rhine - yey! It's really the best view of Basel that a person can get.

Other people have news though, and I must say I'm quite bemused by the Royal Visit to Canada. I think I've basically worked out what I think about the whole thing. On the one hand, Kate and William seem like nice enough people, and I like the fact that the latter has a proper job flying rescue helicopters - that's cool. They've got a high-pressure gig, and they're doing pretty well at being cheerful and about treating the people around them as individuals - the epitome of politeness.

I also agree with some of the protests going on in Montreal and in Quebec city. I think it was kitch of them to gather right outside and disturb the peace at a cancer-ward of a hospital - it almost looked like they were protesting the royal couple bringing a bit of joy and support into a bleak place, but they could have help up a few signs outside the hotel or something to show that a few of us question whether the monarchy is the right thing for Canada. Nothing against them personally, I'm sure they're all lovely, and nothing against Great Britain either. I just don't quite think it's necessary for them to be our head of state anymore. No more vows of allegiance, 'til death do us part. No. Let's just be friends.

There are two comments on the CBC website which don't make sense, one pro- and one anti-monarchy. The first says we should embrace the Queen as our head of state because it makes us not American. But we will only ever be second class subject. Even though it clearly says on my passport "in the name of Her Majesty the Queen... allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hinderance." Except if I want to enter the UK of course. To enter last summer I had to pay them $250 let, and with the extra hinderance of going to Zurich to get myself biometrically documented. And for what? To play my trombone. The procedure would have been the same for a single concert, and now even to come as a tourist, they harass me more than any other country. Not even to enter the U.S.A. did I need to get fingerprinted - we're neighbours after all, and we haven't (and won't) swear allegiance to them.

A little note to the people of Britain though - thank you for telling the government to sod off on my behalf for giving me all this trouble to come and play a concert. The American people haven't done that. You guys are cool. Let's be friends.

(Oh dear, here comes breakfast. A madeleine. Since when was that breakfast? The young children across the aisle are going to have a suger high soon, and then a crash. How about a whole-wheat roll and a bit of butter or jam? Would that be too hard?)

I also wish to know who owns "crown land," which makes up 89% of Canada. All I could find by the website is that it's managed by the ministers of various natural resources, but I couldn't find anything that made me sure the Queen didn't actually own it. She owns the entire coastline of Britain for instance, so why not?

The anti-royal visit remarks on the comments section of the CBC astound me too - they say that the few million dollars for the royal visit shouldn't be paid by Canadian taxpayers. Of course it should. They're not having a honeymoon, they're working, it's a gig and not a very easy one - I don't think I could be excruciatingly pleasant and enthusiastic to everyone for nine days in a row, could you? No, from my perspective Canada's hired these two to bolster our tourist industry, and the 50 cents that a Canadian taxpayer is putting toward transportation, accommodation, security etc. will be repaid many, many times over by people bringing money from other countries and pouring it into Canada's businesses, restaurants, hotels, public transit systems, and of course the maple syrup industry. This money comes in and gets passed about. It's an excellent investment. Just like international a thriving cultural scene is ...oh never mind. Preaching to the converted here I'm afraid.

So, in summary: Yes to welcoming foreign guests, yes to paying their expenses in exchange for their flaunting their celebrity faces to promote our tourist industry, yes to enjoying the historical link between Britain and Canada (unless you're a French Canadian) - you can even keep Rideau Hall if you like, but no to being our head of state unless you're going to welcome us into your country the way we welcome you into ours.

And to my U.S. friends, by the way, Happy Independence Day!

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