John Walker's Electronic House

by on Jul.30, 2004, under The Rest

Sunday Afternoon

My ambition for Sunday was to visit the Van Gogh Museum. Someone had told me that they’d been to Amsterdam twice, and both times failed to visit, and they wished they had. I’ve completely forgotten who that was, but for some reason I felt it my duty to avenge this wish. I don’t even like Van Gogh that much. But whenever suggestions for what to do were being voiced, I offered the Van Gogh Museum, and eventually got my way.

However, there were many detours along the way. Continuing our defiant walking along the lethal streets, we eschewed public transport for our entire stay, and so all (but one) destinations were reached by winding trudges. Apart from the achy feet, this seemed the best way. There was enough public transport employed either side of the stay – a person could get quite fed up of it.

walking with legs

The Nicktoria entity has a strange, and somewhat disturbing, obsession with Lush – the soap shop. I hate Lush. Everything in those shops looks like chocolate or icecream (and occasionally cheese), but it’s all soap. Mean, tricksy soap. Lush hates me too, because despite my best efforts, whenever I go into their shops the tsunami of smell smacks me in the face and makes me cough. The staff hate that. They glare at you, and think that you’re fake-coughing to make a point about how horribly smelly their rubbish non-chocolate-and-icecream shop is. But it’s real coughing because of how horribly smelly their rubbish non-chocolate-and-icecream shop really is. It’s so unfair.

Nicktoria, however, disagrees. It instead chooses to buy each and every ridiculous product, to feed its bizarre obsession with baths. And so having spotted a Lush on Saturday, there was no avoiding a visit.

It was just the same as any other branch of the store – the same products, the same blackboards sporting the same font (although some of it was in Dutch), all apart from the music playing. I recognised it but couldn’t place it, and it was extremely good. Nick and Victoria dashed about, picking up various not ice cream or chocolate items and thrust them under my nose for me to say, “yes, it does smell a bit like honey”. But eventually I had to ask, so I went up to a friendly looking member of staff and asked what the music was.

“It’s dEUS!” she replied, with an enthusiasm that made my head light up. “Of course, dEUS!” I said. “You know them?!” she replied, sounding delighted. And so we talked about dEUS for a bit. They are a great band, if you haven’t heard them – a friend of mine’s favourite – and so we nattered away. Then she said, “Have you heard the new project by the lead singer?” I hadn’t. She told me they were called Magnus, and then said, “Do you want to hear them?!”

There’s not much I can think of that is more attractive than someone’s being enthusiastic and excited about something that’s important to them. She was very attractive. She disappeared behind a screen, and changed CDs, putting Magnus on. We listened. It was good. We said thank you, Nicktoria bought some lump of rubbish, and we left.

Train Girl had been on my mind for the last couple of days. Not her particularly, but the whole issue of being pointlessly shy in the face of an attractive girl. I was pleased that I had chatted with Lush Lady. (We didn’t quite get her name, but I’m sure Nick will add his improvised spelling as a Tsukkomi). She was lovely, and best of all she was enthusiastic, rather than ordinary. She wasn’t embarrassed to be excited about loving a band so much, and wanted to share it with others. I had enjoyed my visit to Lush.

Victoria now named her my girlfriend, and she was referred to as such for the rest of the trip. Both chided me for not having swapped email addresses or similar, and scared me with suggestions that I should go back in, in order to do so. Erk. But we were now on our way to the Van Gogh Museum.

Surviving the queue with the life-giving power of A&W Root Beer and pretzels, we launched ourselves upon the gallery. Nick and I had once visited the Tate Modern. Wandering around the top floor Nick had said, “I had thought it would be difficult to know what is good and what is crap. But it’s easy. Look: good, crap, good, good, crap.” But such ease of crappiosity identification is perhaps hindered when looking at the works of recognised “Masters”. Um… The Museum was having an exhibition of Manet’s sea paintings, and it took us only a couple of minutes to realise that they really were completely rubbish. Obviously Manet was an Impressionist, and so it was never his intent or goal to create accurately rendered seascapes. But those potato-print messes were just stupidly poor. Perhaps he was very good atpainting other stuff, but honestly, they were dreadful. This ended up causing us to get the giggles, which probably annoyed others trying to see the Emperor’s New Brilliant Paintings for what they weren’t. The museum seemed to only point this out further by hanging a Monet sea scene next to one of Manet’s finger paintings. I don’t like Monet at all, but in that light he looked like the greatest painter of all time.

I know it’s a cliche, but Van Gogh’s stuff does look that bit more impressive for being immediately in front of you, and actually being the real thing. Standing in front of the Sunflowers (shush Victoria) is a slightly bizarre experience – you’ve seen it on the TV and in books so many times that the painting had become ficitional. And there it was, in real life.

We decided that the only sensible way to get back to the B&B, especially in recognition of our aching legs, was to hire a peddalo and pedal our way along the canals. Only offering two-person power, Victoria sat in the back, like the Lady she truly is, while her two Men pushed furiously at the pedals, avoiding the ferocious motor-powered menace of the tourist barges.

sunken boat
How God punishes those who use motors

We proudly obeyed the strict rules of the canal, and chastised all those who did not. Those motor-using fiends. We were clearly far better than them, and their unnatural, unGodly diesel driven monstrosities. If God had meant us to use motorised tourist barges, he wouldn’t have given us feet that fit onto the pedals of a peddalo.

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