Thursday, June 23, 2022

Fleeting Memories Of Amsterdam

So many people- a river of them flowing down Damrak, night and day. A river of chatter in the daytime, a river of shouting at night. I walked for miles; I sat beside canals and watched: the barber shop on a boat, full of black t-shirted men with sculpted (or ready-to-be sculpted) hair; the two young women in hijabs riding identical Vespas side by side, chatting; the coots nesting comfortably in an abandoned boat. I wandered into shops and marvelled at the luridly-coloured 'clog' slippers made of nylon plush, all sizes available, and the woman with a traditional Dutch bonnet who refused to be  photographed and coughed Covidly. I went on a canal trip and saw the stray cats' sanctuary on a boat, and the self-seeded hollyhocks sprouting magnificently from the quayside. I found a good cafĂ© and sat there, watching the world go by, and I waited for a while next to some street people who were sharing touching stories about their families. The bicycles  streamed off the ferries: ting-a-ling! Get out of the way!

Grim men did deals in clusters on the street, their mobile phones clamped to their heads. In the red light district, there is a 24 hour service. The prostitutes, tall, fierce and wary, reassembled their fishnet clothing after a punter's appointment as their eyes darted around looking for more custom. Oh, how terribly depressing it was to see them in the mornings. What an exhausting and mindless occupation. Small groups of men shambled through the streets purposefully, peering into the shop windows at the 'goods'. This was a sobering reminder of the true hierarchy that exists in the not-modern world.

I lay in the tiny hotel room at night listening to the shouting in the alley below, and inhaling the cannabis fumes that percolated through the windows. I met my cousin, who I haven't seen since McMum's funeral, and of course I interviewed punk women at OCCI: but more of that later.

No comments: