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Columbia South Carolina

 

As already mentioned Columbia is the State capital and second largest city in South Carolina.  But we were only staying one night and it was Saturday.  The markets had taken over the down-town area so we went for a wander.  The town was pleasant but our combined memory is more of the comfortable Home Towne Suites out on Columbiana Dr and the nearby shopping mall that provided food than of the City itself.

 


Saturday Markets Columbia - Click on this picture to see Meet Your Cremator and more
 

Most of the stalls were selling local produce like honey, cheese or jam.  A number had handcrafts. 

But the most innovative was Meet Your Cremator.  This guy is a ceramic artist who makes personalised ceramic mugs that are caricatures of the client.  He was chatting up some potential clients so I could only go by what he was saying to them. As far as I could work out he takes their photograph and possibly makes a sketch of what they might expect, then during the week in his studio/pottery he crafts a mug of their 'mug' and brings it back next week. They're a sort of modern Toby Jug.

It seemed to have a lot of downsides.  Did they trust him enough to pay upfront?  And if so what if they hated the thing?  If not, does he trust them to turn up next week?  Has he got a shed full of unsellable mugs?  And how many people want a ceramic caricature of themselves anyway? 

It was the stall's name that initially caught my attention. It seemed to suggest a change of business direction.  Did he start out making crematory urns?  I can see why that might've been an even harder sell than personalised mugs: 'It's the latest thing: an amusing caricature of your loved one to keep their ashes in... Got a photo of your mum on you?' 

 

 

 

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Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The new James Bond

 

 

It was raining in the mountains on Easter Saturday.

We'd decided to take a couple of days break in the Blue Mountains and do some walking. But on Saturday it poured.  In the morning we walked two kilometres from Katoomba to more up-market and trendy Leura for morning coffee and got very wet.

After a train journey to Mount Victoria and back to dry out and then lunch in the Irish Pub, with a Cider and Guinness, we decided against another soaking and explored the Katoomba antique stores and bookshops instead.  In one I found and bought an unread James Bond book.  But not by the real Ian Fleming. 

Ian Fleming died in 1964 at the young age of fifty-six and I'd read all his so I knew 'Devil May Care' was new.  This one is by Sebastian Faulks, known for his novel Birdsong, 'writing as Ian Fleming' in 2008.

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Opinions and Philosophy

How does electricity work?

 

 

 

The electrically literate may find this somewhat simplified article redundant; or possibly amusing. They should check out Wikipedia for any gaps in their knowledge.

But I hope this will help those for whom Wikipedia is a bit too complicated and/or detailed.


All cartoons from The New Yorker - 1925 to 2004

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