I’ve been a bit quiet except on the reviewing front because partly there’s not a lot of PhD to report right now, and second I actually took a holiday, of sorts.
Now forced myself to take a holiday might be a better description, because while I was away for two long weekends I forced myself to take two weeks off both PhD and summer job (actually that second part is a lie, there’s just no work to be had at the summer job as usual which makes it a fairly useless summer job). Now here’s the thing, I suck at holidays.
I came to realise I haven’t taken a holiday in six years that wasn’t somehow connected/included theatre (except my cousin’s wedding in Ireland but familial obligations don’t count) so my first trip to Amsterdam was quite a departure.
Things I learned in Amsterdam:
- You really don’t forget how to ride a bike...
- Blisters on the sole of your feet really, really hurt.
- You can take the history teacher out of the girl but she’ll still want to look at WW2 stuff.
- Sex is fine when it’s in a museum
- I’m too much of a fat kid to pass up real brownies for ‘funky’ brownies, and based on this: There should always be second breakfast.
So based on that list we did traditional Amsterdam things like riding a bike and going on a canal boat, neither activity I’d normally be enthusiastic for but I loved both! I do it turns out miss riding my bike but Welsh hills aren’t as nice as flat canal paths. Bike riding also wasn’t much fun with blisters on the souls of my feet-that I got while wearing trainers for goodness sake!
Ah History, despite hating both my History degree and PGCE in History, I still do love a good bit of History (except Medieval, nothing in my mind is so dull) and being in Amsterdam I suddenly realised just how much I missed a bit of History in my life. Now here concessions had to be made to my companion who being a normal person understandably didn’t feel like spending the holiday touring historical sites and learning about the War. She was however lovely enough to try and go to the Anne Frank House (we failed due to long queue of Japanese tourists) and put up with my dull mutterings on the subject.
One museum we could both get behind (ahem) was the Sex Museum. Except we managed to go to the wrong one-yes in Amsterdam it’s possible to go to a wrong sex museum. My favourite part of this was the toilets (insert George Michael joke here) that also made me think of Little Shop of Horrors....
Silliness of the Sex Museum aside I found the ‘sexy’ side of Amsterdam a bit depressing. I’m generally a live and let shag kind of girl-given the area I research and well just from being me I generally have no judgement on who or what people do sexually. An in principle I have no moral issue with prostitution, and I’m definitely in favour of a legal system that gives more protection to these girls. I won’t lie we had a good giggle watching groups of men goad each other into going up to the brothels and willing one of them to actually go in, but ultimately the whole thing is still a sad state of affairs for all involved in my opinion, when someone pays for sex someone is always being taken advantage of or being devalued I can’t help but feel.
On the upside the positive and open attitude to sex and sexuality is something I envy the Dutch for. One of the highlights and a moving part of the trip for me was discovering the ‘Homomonument’ which is a monument to homosexuals who lost their lives in the Second World War, but it also commemorates any homosexual men and women who have lost their lives to government regimes and in struggling for freedom. It has three pink triangles (the symbol given to homosexuals in the concentration camps) symbolising ‘past, present and future’
So we did bikes, canals, sex and history. The only other thing left was those coffee shops...and those were left untried. We did have a good laugh watching stoners falling about the place but were far too busy stuffing our faces with delicious cakes to bother sampling anything stronger.
So part one of the holiday complete, and not a theatre in sight....or so I thought! Taking a tram past one of Amsterdam’s beautiful theatres I discovered this year they had a production of ‘Angels in America’ the topic of my first chapter. You can also it seems take the girl away from the PhD but the PhD will follow her!
Part 2 of holiday blog up later today!