Barcelona and Back

Thanks to David for sending along this tidbit! Full text after the break.


Blog – Barcelona and Back


Okay, so the World Cup is finally here, and, after last night’s 5-1 thrashing of Spain by Holland, I’m well and truly hooked. I’m not really an Eng-er-land fan, and you won’t catch me in an England shirt (though you will, regularly, find me in an Arsenal strip). No. What gets me is the sheer range of talent on display, and I do tend to support those teams (like Germany) who have several Arsenal players in their line ups. I’m hoping that over the next four weeks there’ll be more games like last night’s spectacular… the world champions being beaten 5-1! Astonishing.

Last week, however, Sue and I booked a late break and went off to Barcelona for five days, staying at the wonderful Hotel Rivolli on La Rambla – the major road in Barcelona, where all day and a lot of the night, great crowds promenade back and forth, soaking up the sun and the sights. We’d not been to Barcelona before now (apart from watching their glorious football team on television) and I have to say that it is the most cultured and beautiful city I have EVER been to. And I’ve been to a good few.

What was also nice was that Sue and I were on our own, the girls left behind at home, so it was a bit like the holidays we had thirty odd years ago, in those heady days of our relationship, before life changed and we had our delightful children. Sue’s my best friend, and it’s just nice being with her, especially when there’s so much to see and talk about. There was not a lot of planning and we found ourselves just going where the flow took us. Two whole days were spent simply lazing on one of Barcelona’s many beaches. There was also a lot of eating – great food for the main part – and drinking, of course. And, as ever on these breaks, the mind goes into sudden overdrive and I came home with six complete new ideas for the end of ROADS book three. Great stuff, believe me, including one long segment which will ultimately be novella sized and which – I’m sure – will be the talking point when the last ROADS book finally comes out two years from now.

No, but Barcelona was great and it’s our intention to have a lot more breaks there – there was lots of stuff we didn’t get to see, the Picasso Museum among them. Oh, and if you want just plain science fictional weird, go and see the Basilica of the Salgrada familia, Gaudi’s uncompleted cathedral, which looks like something out of Babylon Five. That guy was, as Sue aptly put it, totally bonkers.

So I’ve come back all fired up and ready to write the last eight sections of the book – two, maybe three weeks work. Then it’ll be left to ferment in my mind, and then – September maybe – I’ll rewrite it, focusing on the visual and textural qualities of the work. Making it sing.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and we’re promised sun, so we’ll be having a barbecue, and all of my girls will be here, with their partners, and a good time will be had by all. We’ve just had our garden ‘done’ with limestone slabs and granite setts, and it looks wonderful. I may even post some photos.

And I realise that I haven’t mentioned, even in passing, the wonderful concert I went to, oh, three weeks ago now? At London’s Roundhouse (where Pink Floyd started all those years ago). My brother, Ian took me, and I’m glad he did. The band was a ten-piece called Archive and they were premiering “Axiom”, their new work, which also exists as a 42 minute black and white film… all very Orwellian, but with a soundtrack that mixes in the influences of Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Floyd and Krautrock. Powerful and loud and visually stunning.  I recommend it to you.

I meant this to be short. Which it needs to be. I’ve got a lot of things to catch up on. Whilst it was lovely to relax totally, there’s always a cost for ‘letting go’. Yes, and there are lots of things to do. As is my habit, I’ve done myself a list of neglected items, out of which probably half will be even more neglected by the end of the week. But that can’t be helped. Not if I want to get some serious writing done.

The anniversary of Tianamen Square has come and gone, and I seriously meant to write something about that, too. Well, maybe next time. Or you could just go and buy a copy of Mia Jen’s BEIJING COMA, which is the final statement on what happened.

Okay. That’s it for now.


David Wingrove   14th June 2014

3 thoughts on “Barcelona and Back”

  1. Dave – and there I was remembering the QPR v Palace subbuteo battles and now you’re wearing an Arsenal kit! Is it the safest way to get around in Tufnell Park or was it a misdirected Christmas present? Either way I hope it suits you and you are well. As we are all collecting bus passes I have decided to throw a birthday party in Brighton on 19th July with a fair few friends from school so if you fancy it, and even if you don’t, drop me a line. It’s good to see you are still productive, happy and enjoying some success. Ian

  2. It seems very off-topic in the context of this post, but I was wondering where David might have got the word “chieh hsia” from (to refer to the T’angs in the Chung Kuo series).

    If I recall correctly, the word is explained in the books as meaning “beneath the steps” (i.e. the palace steps) but I think chieh is a mispronunciation. The correct word should be bìxià – or in Wade-Giles pi hsia. The word for (陛) is very similar in appearance to the word jiē (階) and even worse for the translator, 階 also has the meaning of steps.

    There was another expression pronounced chieh hsia (節下 jiéxià) in ancient China, but the meaning was “under the banner” and apparently it was used to refer to foreign ambassadors.

  3. Hi Steve,
    Not trying to play the uncooked crustacean here, but are you matching the correct dialect to the correct epoch?

    And this part from David: “The band was a ten-piece called Archive and they were premiering “Axiom”, their new work, which also exists as a 42 minute black and white film… all very Orwellian, but with a soundtrack that mixes in the influences of Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Floyd and Krautrock”
    Sounds really cool, will googlefy them tonight.
    Also liking RtM so far. Hope it’s as sweeping and profound as Chung Kuo.

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