Saturday, 25 February 2012

# 33 [21 July 2009]

I had a good week last week - been invited by Ottica TV to show in The Hague at the 'Streaming Festival' in November, had a video accepted to be shown at 'One Minute Film Festival', Aarau, Switzerland and sold a painting (one from the new Argeles series based on the 'spinning' videos made on the beach last year).

I am making a new video for Ottica TV - I was invited by some friends living in the village to help celebrate a 60th birthday by spending the day on a tourist train to Rivesaltes with their friends visiting from Germany.

So, off I trundled to the station at Axat (20 mins from my home) in Andi's car, the sheep-farmer who had showed my work in his barn during the spring - he had organised the trip for our mutual friend, Suse whose birthday it was. This was to be no ordinary train journey - as soon as we boarded the train coffee and biscuits were offered to everyone in the carriage we had commandeered - five minutes later Blanquette de Limoux (local bubbly) was passed around.

I placed my audio-recorder on the chair and surruptiously pressed record - the sound of the train whistle, screeching breaks and rhythmic chugg-chugga was accompanied by the sound of children and adults having fun on a grand day out. I hung out of the window and started to record the train-track, trees and bulidings as we hurtled through a changing landscape: woods, gorges and vineyards slowly disappeared as we approached the flat arid plain at Rivesaltes.

For me the atmosphere approaching the station at Rivesaltes was laden with the gravitas of the past, from this seemingly anonymous station carriages took Jews to Auschwitz - but today it was the destination of a fun day out with some friends.

We ate lunch on a palm-tree lined square in front of a typically grand town hall - 30 minutes before we caught the train back was just enough to eat foie-gras, baguette and to drink Muscat de Rivesaltes (the other reason Rivesaltes is known).

I reflected on the bizarre situation in which I found myself - what was a mini-pilgimage for me was augmented by being accompanied by German friends and aquaintances on a day when all that mattered was enjoying the sun, food and drink in good company, but I do hope I've got some decent footage with an atmospheric soundtrack.

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