Dear Europe

Posted by David Smerdon on Jan 1, 2013 in Non-chess |

Burleigh Beach, Queensland, Australia
Post scheduled to upload at: 00.01, January 1, 2013
(Amsterdam/Paris: 15.01, December 31, 2012)

Dear Europe,

I’m writing this brief note to you from Burleigh Beach,
Australia, where I’m holidaying to escape your winter and to bring in the new

Tonight also marked my first full calendar year as a resident in your
continent. It’s been a period of change and of rugged yet gradual integration
into your way of life. I must admit, at times it’s been tough: you’ve often
left me feeling on the back foot, lacking in culture, unrefined, and so very,
very un-European.

I’ve never been much of a man for fashion, but your European
style (and judgment of those who lack it) did at times leave me feeling wholly
inadequate. I recall fondly that trip to Paris where my entrance to my very
first French party was met with the suggestion, “We don’t like your jeans. They’re
too baggy.”

Or the friendly advice from my friends in London that my
winter jacket made me look like a homeless ninja-turtle – while I still take it
as a compliment, I’ve since realised that a man who lives in Europe has certain
cultural obligations. You’ll be happy to know that in an extravagantly consumerist
2012, I literally doubled my wardrobe (I bought a second pair of shoes, and a
pair of jeans).

I’ve also learned something of the value of art.  For example, thanks to the exceptional modern
art galleries of London, Paris and Amsterdam, a wall painted entirely blue
should be taken as a biting criticism of capitalism and the perils of
technological progress, and thus should certainly be worth half a million
dollars. I’ve learned that comments such as “This guy must have been tripping
something chronic” are not an appropriate way to comment on van Gogh’s work –
at least not out loud. And I’ve learned through tasteful suggestion that dancing
‘Gangnam-style’ on tables in restaurants is perhaps not quite the ‘expression
of world music’ I claim it to be.

Truth be told, I still don’t realise why detachable shower
heads are so very vital to the showering experience, but at least I’m now aware
of it. I’m also now aware that the European Football Championships is a soccer
event, and that apparently the Dutch and the German teams haven’t always been
friends. You’ve taught me how to put up with second hand smoke in small,
windowless bars, and that the best beer in the world is almost always without
question that brewed in the city in which I’m currently drinking. While I haven’t
quite learned the correct pronunciation of Italian beverages, I’m now oh so
aware that my Aussie-drawl articulation “Maa-key-arr-tow” and “Caa-par-chee-na”
are perhaps not as pleasant to the ears as I would have people believe.

It’s been a period of change, dear Europe, in adapting to
your ways. You’re a complicated beast, and I’m perhaps a little less refined
than your average Euro-spawn, but I’m learning, and growing. And I like you, I
have to say. We can be friends.

But despite my peaceful resolution to learn ever more about
you in this exciting new year, let me take this brief opportunity to fire
something back at you. It’s not much, but it’s all I have, and it’s at least
undisputable. For here on the beach on New Year’s Day in Australia, I may always
be behind in your view of fashion and style (or in fact shirts), nor have a
real barista or an arty rock worth thousands of dollars anywhere nearby. But I
do have a timezone, and in that I’m at least ahead, having just seen in 2013
with the rest of my compatriots. And so for now and for the next few hours, at
least, I want you to think about this.

You are SO 2012.


1 Comment

Jan 1, 2013 at 5:28 am

You still need to visit Poland.



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