Thursday, 8 October 2009


                                                                        Me as a stamp!

 I have spent a wonderful last few weeks living in a suburb of Tallinn, Estonia. It is an old wooden house where triin and I rent a large room ... enough space for all our trash and even my new TUBA fits quietly in the corner! Yes i just bought a tuba to make even more noise! I can make pretty good elephant sounds and can even play 5 or 6 notes with big deep breaths between them and dizzy spells from hyperventilating after 5 minutes. I have been painting a lot and making new friends here. The house I am living in is a community house for the area (uus maailm) and there is a nice garden and I have one friend who is about 3 years old next door ... a lovely girl called sissy who says hello out of her window as I am stretching in the garden in the sunny mornings. There are so many things I want to do before I leave next week. I want to paint the room even though we leave in a week... because I have a lovely idea of a big tree... and we have shows this weekend. Actually I have not been working for money hard at all.. more cycling around painting and experimenting new styles at home. An Australian teacher, who is the mother of one of the girls who live in the community house, loved my work and told me she will go home and ask her school to let me be their artist in residnce in Adalaide! WOOO HOOO!

Triin will stayin our room when I leave for London in a couple of weeks. I am learning estonian every day and Triin's wonderful trumpet teacher offered to teach me tuba and also asked me to play 2nd clarinet in the brass band... the current 2nd clarinet has leprocy which triin says is starting to 'go to his head'! The first clarinet player is blind... its a hard act to follow!
                          BELOW: some of the musicians in the Tallinn Youth Orchestra

   It has been a wonderfully busy and exciting time. The local community were all working together to prepare for their 3rd annual summer street festival. I hung a selection of paintings i did this summer in the sitting room of the community house and they printed my picture below on a full page of the local newspaper with a little text about me. 
I was very chuffed about that! 

It is a picture of the sitting room of the community house with Bots playing chess against the house champ and Triin playing guitar in the background. However, yesterday the local poet got upset about something ... no-one is really at all sure... and he flipped and punched my painting cutting his hands on the glass - very melodramatic. I was rather taken aback and told him he would have to buy me a new frame... anyhow, I guess art does touch peoples emotions somehow. At least it was not a window cos although it is warm winter is never so far away in Estonia. 
   The festival was due to take place on the weekend. On the saturday the sun was shining and I finished my dog mask just 10 minutes before the parade. It had taken me 2 days almost solid work and although I wanted to make an angry bull terrier mask it turned out looking more like a very cute and fluffy mongrol!
       The parade raised some eyebrows... bagpipes and whistles and trumpet and a big poster and a huge above head snake and some jugglers and unicycles and a dog on a bike (me). I had some close shaves because I could not see so much out of the dogs mouth so I almost cycled into a few lamp-posts and cars and did a lot of sniffing of other dogs, growling at annoying people who obstructed the parade and barked at the dolly in front of the news camera and she screamed and ran away! Here is a photo of me pumping up my tyre with my mask on!

       I could not believe how many people there were... it was really busy all along Luha street (that means meadow in estonian): market stalls, a band stage, a teepee with different attractions, children running everywhere and even organised street football matches (pretty wild... like gorilla football - not much skill just a lot of flying feet and one broken window). I tried to sell my art but without much success so I moved on to playing music and danced a little and people liked that.
       Erko was on the microphone telling people this and that. he is a really busy person when you hang out with him. At first he seemed so friendly but now he always has his head in some work and hardly has time to say hello! I still respect him a lot!
     The day ended with some fireshow outside the seltsimaja and Triin and me put on our Mushroom Buddy costumes and played music for the show, you can see us in the background here:
 After that people jumping about to the dj outside and Triin and I went inside and played a little concert inside and a great Finnish pecussionist called Erik joined in which was great fun.
      On sunday it rained very very hard... a nice change actually from the sunshine on saturday but unfortunately the market people all went home. The house was very busy with music and eating and cooking... Katarina worked like an ant in the kitchen making cakes and lots of nice girls were helping her. I lost several chess games against the Estonian youth champion who was very cool and went up and down the tables smoking a cigar and not saying too much. I spent a lot of the day drawing people at the festival ... the poetry reading, the market in the staircase of seltsimaja, the busy cafe and this portrait of Argo and a girl called Paike (sunshine).

 Paike gave me a very nice back massage in exchange for her portrait. She was so good at it! I have been having back pains all week... I think i will stop drinking so much coffee and I really want to do more sport but infact I have been playing football almost everyday in the little fields infront of the Le Coq stadium just over the railway track. We have also been collecting lots of mushrooms and cooking and eating them - very yummy! So I have been very healthy... dont really know why my back is troubling me! 

My friend Maarja and her circus buddy in the shisha tent at uus maailm festival 2009. 
Maarja is one of my youngest heroes in this world!
Above: A very pretty French lady who was staying at Uus Maailm seltsimaja. I thought 
I had done a really pretty picture of her but she was grossly insulted somehow!
I felt pretty bad... but I got to keep the picture! He he!
Above: A guy from Tartu and a Georgian girl who were selling clothes in the staircase of Uus Maailm seltsimaja during the festival weekend on the sunday when the rain was pouring down!Anyhow, soon there burst out an average sized Russian fight in the sitting room and fists were flying but Erko, who I had not seen all day, charged in from nowhere and bundled a couple of big drunk Russian guys out. There was a bit of an uncomfortable atmosphere after that... but a big lady walked in and hooted 'I am a professional singer at the opera, let me sing' and she hit the piano and really could play and then someone else took over and she was singing in the centre of the room holding an open umbrella in one hand and a glass of wine and microphone in the other. Very cool stuff! 
  The day after the festival Tom left for London getting a ride from a Belgian dude driving all the way home.

A few times every week Triin and I go to the Russian market and play music outside if it is sunny. We are pretty dinamic together and have a great time. The people there really appreciate it...we always get drunk Russians dancing and I got a free invitation to a theatre show tonight from someone who liked my street music - the theatre piece is called THE WOMAN AND THE CLARINET... two things I highly approve of! I have also been keeping up my chess playing but rarely win... I have been reading about soviet chess players and heard lots of good things about the Latvian Mikhael Tal who said: 'I drink, smoke, gamble and chase girls but postal chess is one vice I dont indulge!' The ladies in the market hear our music and give us reduced price water melons and grapes (for a couple of euros) along with lots of donations and smiles and we buy home grown pumpkins and tomatos and other tastey things from the babooshkas there. The old town is full of package tourists who just take photos and dont give us any money. 
personally I think it would be better if they stayed at home... they dont see anything of the real town, like the market, just the spruced up medeval Disneyland which is the old Tallinn. Their business just blights the old town with boutiques and expensive restaurants and they cause a lot of pollution flying here and back for a few days. It would be much better for everyone if they went on a holiday in their own countries on bicycle. Here they only give local pick pockets (legal and illegal varieties of the species) a source of income and go away having seen a sham.  
yesterday triin and i went to the russian market to play some music. It was a bit later than we normally play. The sunshine was cool and lovely and a gentle sea wind blew from the direction of the railway. We started playing and a drunk russian came and gave us 2 empty bottles of beer ... he took a turn of a lamp-post about 30 meters away and came back and took the two empty bottles again. he disappeared once again and then returned with two full bottles! OK... then he started dancing ... very slow and prancy style like a Viennese show-horse. We played a couple of russian numbers and he started crying... meanwhile several of his buddies had turned up... one guy who could speak but preffered to use his eyebrows and fingers to express himself. He was a small fellow with a face like a hairless rabbit and walking stick... a very elegant stick with some neon ribbons tied around its centre. He played air guitar on his stick to High Society and came very close and smiled very inoffensively. Another fellow was the journalist of the drunks... he was very curious about where we came from, what our instruments were called and posed his questions slowly and deliberately in clear russian. After we started playing he retreated to the bus stop opposite with his friend with no legs in the wheel chair and told him all about us. Another fellow in a track suit pulled up and saw us and started bellowing and howling and giving the thumps up and shaking his head... a little like the KILL THE NEGATIVE SHIT fellow from Karia but not so active or close up! Nice chap!
  The first drunk, the fellow who had turned empty bottles of beer into full bottles, came up with tears still in his eyes and poured out a few coins and notes ... about 20 krone... not much but when you consider some of the spanish tourists give us 2 krone it is very generous! He cried a little more then returned with a big smile and left his leather bassball hat in my case. I tried to return it... but triin grabbed it.. 'No, I like it!' She looks like a black market Russian currency exchanger lady and when I told her she replied: 'That's exactly how I want to look!' Triin broke a string so it was time to go home. With all the money the drunks had given us we went and bought a rather expensive stereo from the big supermarket.. it cost around 40 euros but I was thinking that the drunks would have spent it on spirits or beer anyhow. They all asked when we were coming back... we have given up playing in the old town except in bars in the evenings. I look forward to playing again in the Russian Market!
   Anyhow, last night I had a lovely dream that my sister Klara walked into the room and said "JIMMY!" and jumped on my back in a big cuddle ... a lot like my friend next door Sissy does when she sees me! She is also (unbeknown to her) my Estonian teacher... I went to the university basic estonian course on the sly but I found it was already too easy for me so I am continuing my studies at home reading Pippi Langschtocken, my 'Estonian for beginners' book, street signs and chatting to Sissi. The fact that I am a bit crazy looking, that I dont speak her language very well, that I am big and hairy and make a lot of noise unlike Estonians does not scare her at all, anyhow, she has got purple, black and blond hair and is often really dirty from playing in the mud and often collects muddy stones and trash (so we have that in common!) She is very bright and school does not start in Estonia until 5 years old so she spends a lot of her time hanging out here and does not break things or play computer games like the boys do. No-one here seems to worry about their kids running around and they are much more smart that home bound kids in the west. 
Nevertheless, soon I will have to go home. I want to go over land through Poland rather than take a boat to Germany ... but now I have a huge tuba to carry... we shall see how it works out. Either way.. land or sea I am sure it will be real fun! I will head for Berlin... and then through Belgium and hop over to London on Eurostar. 
   I have been developing my own confused little theory about energy which does not really make any sense unless you already understand what I am trying to say. Basically the theory helps explain to me how somethings can seem upsetting or scary to some people and not bother others, because people give energy to things they think about... I guess it means that even a death of someone can become very meaningless or of little significance if they have not attached any emotional energy to that person. It does not proove anything and in fact it confuses me not a little but it felt remarkable when I first thought of it!  I will move on...

 Yesterday I tried to go to the history museum but stopped by the beach and thought I would sit down a bit, then I thought it would be nice to lie in the sun and then I thought I would close my eyes and soon enough I was asleep in the cool sun with the seagulls and swans perched on rocks in the waveless blue bay. 
I went to acrobatics yesterday and felt pretty old and unflexible and weak. I wished i had started acrobatic earlier...18 or something! I feel like I am running to stay still now! I came back with Triin and was feeling tired but we went to a young musicians party. I was thinking about writing a song or rap about all the things I wish I had not done and things I had done and then things I feel I have to do now and things I want to do before i get much older. Something like this:
When i was young I wish I had strutted about
When I was young I wish I had not studied so much and had more fun
When I was young I wish I had kissed more girls and not been so scared of God
When I was young I wish I had been less serious
When I was young I wish i had grown my hair long

Now I am middle aged I can't strutt without looking silly
Now I am middle aged my hair does not grow long, only on my toes!
Now I am middle aged I have no respect for gods or icons and have lost contact with the beliefs of my youth which I detest not a little now
Now I am middle aged not many girls are too interested in kissing me, only the ugly ones.

But before I get much older I want to 
Kiss all the less ugly ugly-girls
Grow a big beard which I can hide behind when the police come looking for me
Just enjoy myself like I was a kid and
Learn to do a backflip while playing ukulele

 It is a crime to be indoors on a day like i will stop breaking the law!

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