30 July 2011
I thought I lost my bike tonight
I had a bit of a moment today where I thought I'd lost my bike. I needed an evening doing nothing in particular, after a busy few days. In Utrecht, it's the last week of the Parade, an annual occurance of a travelling arts festival in Nederland, which also includes Rotterdam, Den Haag and Amsterdam in its journey through July and August. It was five minute's bike ride away, near the main rail station of Utrecht Centraal, and it was the last weekend that it was here. So, what the heck - go and find out more.
I locked my bike securely to a lampost and walked over. The small Moreelsepark was full of large tents and other mobile structures, not to mention a vast collection of bicycles scattered on the periphery. What is the collective noun for a group of cycles anyway? A quick count gave something like fifteen performance venue-ettes, and there must have been even more eating and drinking opportunities. Coupled with a throng of people out for a good evening, the event generated an excellent and convivial atmosphere.
I was attracted - after a few biertjes - to Monica Hunken as Blondie of Arabia, who gave a superb perfomance based on an experience of travelling around parts of the middle east on a bicycle. She perfomed in English too, which was an extra bonus for me. The temporary round tent venue, no more than maybe ten metres across, was crammed with around eighty people, with a tiny performance area. She should take the show to Edinburgh.
A fitting backdrop to the whole Moreelsepark scene was the strident red brick buiiding of some adminstrative office, where a classically shaped flying saucer was comfortably nesting on the roof.
It was as I meandered out of the Parade venue - to say I walked out would have been an exageration - that the significance of that collection of bicycles outside hit me. In many other places, providing such an event would have meant providing the car parking as well, taking up a comparitively large amount of room compared to the bicycles required to transport the same number of people. Finding space for those cars would have been a challenge for Utrecht. I'd go as far as to say it couldn't have been done at that venue, and some space out in the countryside would have been needed. It's likely that such an event would not have been successful except near a city centre, as that gives the option of last minute impulse decisions to go without much planning. The bicycle was at least a major contribution to making the whole event work.
And my bike, my old friend? As I meandered away from the Parade, I mistook lamposts and bicycles in their multitudes. Just as i resigned myself to thinking that my impregnable lock had simply been wafted away, I realised I was looking at the wrong lampost. Twenty metres away, in splendid isolation, was my trusty steed, calmly waiting against an identical lampost. We trundled home, reunited.