Saturday, 18 May 2013

It feels like Christmas Eve

I’m not quite on holidays but I may as well be: the parents arrive tomorrow. Work’s been typically chaotic but with only two days left now until two weeks off I figure the stress is a small, preliminary price to pay.

I’ve been stalking them all day. It absolutely blows my mind that this blinking dot moving across my screen is in fact a Qantas A380 jet carrying 450-odd people, two of which are my Mum and step-dad, wedged up the back in rows 86 and just-call-this-hell.

They’re due to arrive at some ridiculous hour so Lovely Boy and I are going to meet them for breakfast and then tomorrow evening I’m bringing them to work, for dinner at the café and then a performance by the Irish artist Orla Barry. I’m a little worried how this will go down to be honest. Contemporary live art is one thing (LB is going to LOATHE it…) but contemporary live art after two glasses of wine and 24 hours of jetlag? Well, it’s going to be interesting.

Orla Barry, Mountain
Sunday we’re taking them for lunch at Henley, at the little pub we lucked across awhile back and then they’ve got a couple of days to amuse themselves while I finish up at work. Tuesday night we're going to see Helen Mirren in The Audience (woo!) and then, next Thursday, Maman et moi are off to Paris (what's French for "again"?) for some macaroons and some shopping and dedicated lady time. 

The boys are meeting us in Marseilles on Saturday – their holiday getting off to a slightly less glamorous start thanks to a Ryanair flight departing from Stansted. At least things can only improve from there, non?

St Remy-de-Provence
I really can’t wait. We’ve got a week in Provence, three days in Nice, three days in Mantova in northern Italy and then three days in Venice for the biennale.

I cannot wait for the biennale. I’m making a short film while I’m there for work and am also reviewing it for Artlink so there’ll be lots to get my teeth into. En famille are mostly pretty excited too, definitely open-minded, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they think of it. Frankly, I suspect after Orla Barry tomorrow night the biennale will be a cake walk.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889
The biennale will be in your face “art” but the rest of the holiday won’t be culture-free, with unwitting shades of art history colouring all of our destinations... Where we’re staying in Provence, a village called St Remy, is right near the asylum where Vincent Van Gogh was treated and where he painted I think 150 of his now iconic works. A day trip to Aix-en-Provence means a visit to Cezanne’s studio and an afternoon in St Paul en route to Nice means lunch at Colombe d’Or (where the likes of Miro, Braque, Chagall and Leger traded works of art for meals and lodging that now decorate the building) and a pilgrimage to the chapel Henri Matisse designed as a thank you to the Dominican nun who cared for him while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Inside Matisse's chapel
My vague, patchwork knowledge of these art histories (which, in fairness should be called trivia, not knowledge given that most of the shit I know most about happened sometime after 1950…) is going to be woefully challenged but I’m really so looking forward to the opportunity to see and experience and appreciate this part of the world through such a particularly visual prism.

Add to all that the bonus of two and a half weeks with my parents and LB and I couldn’t be happier really. You know you’re unavoidably old when travelling with your parents is a major calendar highlight but I don’t really give a shit.

It feels like Christmas Eve. So I better get to bed.  

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