Over the past few years I’ve been very fortunate and travelled to some amazing places….met and worked with lots of wonderful people and generally had a pretty good time…but none of my recent (ad)ventures could really be classed as a holiday. It’s actually been a few years since I’ve hit a foreign beach, enjoyed the sights and sites, sunshine and sea whilst also enjoying the rarity of both lunch and dinner in the same day.
I recently came across some recordings I made in 2000 (was it really that long ago) whilst on holiday in Greece with my great mate, fellow (ad)venturer and partner in crime, Huw…The Greek Islands were certainly my preferred destination for the first few years of this decade and I shared so many wonderful times which I will never forget.
I do love travelling around the Greek islands on ferries, many of them, from my experience, operate in various states of sea worthiness….some badly listing, others spewing awful black smoke into the atmosphere, while a few seem to entertain all onboard by spending the whole crossing dodging other vessels, or bumping into them whilst docking. In high summer most are crammed full with contented lobster-red tourists, disinterested olive-skinned locals, motorcycles, cars and lorries full of….well…it’s sometimes hard to know quite what….but to me exotic, mysterious and exciting cargos, although in reality they’re simply delivering everyday goods to the often isolated islands.
I have experienced two absolutely ‘perfect moments’* in my life (and many nearly, but not quite, perfect ones). The first was an early spring day spent alone, in a secluded spot, at the foot of Mount Fuji and the second was in Greece, at the start this holiday, in 2000. I vividly remember taking an early morning ferry from Piraeus (as if it was yesterday) - just as the sun was rising and shedding the most beautiful colours imaginable over the still sleeping Athens. This fantastic light, the evocative smell of the sea, the beautiful sounds of the boat creaking and the waves lapping against the bow, the gentle sway as we slowly headed away from the glowing metropolis and on into the quiet, blue, deep, Greek waters, while the new days sun began to slowly warm my skin – A mixture of feelings, emotions and sensations which made this morning one that I’ll never forget, a memory which I’m finding frustratingly difficult to properly articulate, but nevertheless, a special moment, a peaceful, solitary, instant away from my often chaotic life, which will remain with me forever. It lasted no more than a couple of minutes…a moment which I wanted (as I did in Japan) to last forever, for an all to brief time nothing mattered and life was beautiful.
Maybe I’ll experience another, maybe the memories of Fuji and Piraeus will have to last me for the rest of my life…I don’t know. I don’t believe that you can seek out, or create a perfect moment (I’ve tried) they creep up on you unexpectedly and you just have to embrace, enjoy, give in to them and savour what is a very special life enhancing event…..
So anyway, here’s some rediscovered sounds from that holiday in 2000. Not the ‘perfect moment’ which I was far to busy experiencing to worry, or even much care, about setting up microphones and recorders, not that you can record such things anyway, but just some boats, cafes, beaches, sea, warmth and memories.
*The late Spalding Gray in his book Swimming to Cambodia wrote of finding the “perfect moment”. A precise moment in time when nothing else exists, you are just in that moment.
Update 13th October 2008,
00:00:00 - 00:02:20 Hydrofoil, leaving quayside, turning, slowly moving out of the harbour before powering away. recorded from the stern.
00:02:20 - 00:05:29 Busy roadside cafe, Backgammon, coffee, bad music and my now long lost Zippo lighter!
00:05:29 - 00:06:41 Beach cafe, cicadas, English conversation, music.
00:06:41 - 00:13:11 Large ferry, approaching quayside and docking, recorded from the deck.
00:13:11 - 00:14:17 Another beach cafe, waves, children playing, laughter and a distant hydrofoil.
00:14:17 - 00:15:21 Ducks swimming around a secluded harbour, water lapping, cicadas
00:15:21 - End Cicadas, water lapping and a boat creaking.