The sunflower is mine’, Van Gogh is once said to have declared, and it does speak to him (both metaphorically and perhaps in his delirium).
The different stages in the sunflower’s life cycle shown here, from young bud through to maturity and eventual decay, follow in the vanitas tradition of Dutch seventeenth-century flower paintings (who knew?)
And that emphasises the transient nature of human actions.
The sunflowers were perhaps also intended to be a symbol of friendship and a celebration of the beauty and vitality of nature.
And he had five of them on display across the world.
Although lucky chap that he was Paul Gauguin got to see them all after Vincent had painted them for him for his arrival in his house at Arles.
At your attendance
Spare a thought and a minute here too for the staff at the National Gallery in London who care for the exhibits better than their own children.
Because these stunts push us further down the road to bulky guards at our art galleries rather than helpful attendants.
And should that come then the essence, the karma of the spaces, the floors and rooms of an art gallery will be compromised.
And is the world’s largest international cooperative program in science and technology.
It has been permanently occupied by people from these different countries, working together for over 20 years.
‘It is both a pinnacle of human achievement and a beacon of hope that is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together.
‘It has been said that living on the space station you realise that if you don’t look after the vessel you are travelling in and you don’t look after your fellow travellers, you won’t survive the journey.
‘Then, when you look down upon Earth, you realise that the same is true.
‘We have to look after this planet we’re travelling on and we have to look after each other in order to survive the journey.’
Tour de force
Somebody put this man on the phone to Vladimir Putin.
And if you can’t wait until then you can catch the show on May 12 at AFAS Live, Amsterdam.
I must have been one of the very few kids in Glasgow to be lullabied to sleep with old Republican songs… and because of that and my own journey I’m an avowed internationalist republican which is why today I say Vive La Republic of Barbados.
And Bim, as it is affectionately known (hence me being known on the island as Bim Jim) is the talk of the Scottish and British Travel scene with the Bridgetown route rolling out from Edinburgh next month.
Now to celebrate Barbados becoming the latest country to throw off the shackles of monarchy and go out on their own, here’s to all those nations who have taken their destiny in their own hands.
And decided to be governed by one of their own.
Now a true republic, just like a true democracy or a true anything these days in double speak, is a moveable object.
But you’ve got to start somewhere which is why we’re going with 160 (now Barbados have signed up).
All republics lead from Rome
And if you know you’re Classic History, and my Latin is better than my Ancient Greek then you’ll know that republic derives from the two Latin words res and publica (public thing).
So that’s one of the famous things that ‘the Romans did for us’ although, of course, if you’re British then it’s an experiment from which we’ve run far away.
Apart, of course, from a brief period from 1649-1660 when these islands of Britain and Ireland entered into a Commonwealth which was really a theocracy.
But while Westminster claims to be the mother of all parliaments (doubtful, and Europe’s oldest in Iceland might have something to say about that).
It’s Rome which is the mothership of all republics, and we have the good fortune that the Forum, the hub of Roman public life is still there.
No fools those Ancient Romans though with their togas as I found out when I almost fainted in the Eternal City heat in my modern clothes.
An Italian fixture
Now where Rome led the rest of Italy followed.
And chief among them was the 1100-year Venetian Republic which still styles itself thus and is hewn into every gondola and the very bricks of the Campanile.
Florence, Siena, Amalfi, Pisa and Genoa all saw what the Doges were doing and how fetching their hats were and followed suit.
But the republicaniest of all the republics and the longest-standing is San Marino.
And so what they lack in football skills (0-10 v England) they more than make up for in their political skills.
La Republique, mais oui
Ah, yes, the French. like so much, would have us believe that they are the shining light of Republics.
So much so that they have had five of them ever since Corsican Napoleon got le ball rolling.
Notre ami soon decided though that L’empereur sounded so much better…
And he did that with one arm behind his back (or affectedly tucked in his jacket then).
It must be a poncey royal thing because the UK’s Prince Charles who very graciously decided to attend the signing-over papers to the Bajans (and bag himself some sun at the time) does pretty much the same thing.
And on a tangent we’ll not say anything about the carbon footprint, Prince Save The World.
None of us are perfect, of course, it’s just the rest of us don’t bleat on about it and preach to the rest of us who do hop on planes.
Middle Ages and Middle Europe
The breeding ground for republics in the Middle Ages was what we now know as Germany.
And a quick count chronicles 62 in the northern European powerhouse.
All of which would be a good exercise and excuse to traverse modern-day Germany with a Michael Portillo type notebook.
I’d have to start in my favourite German city Hamburg first of course.
There are some who have gone the opposite way to the Bajans and jumped from republic to monarchy like the Dutch.
Others who have had a brief dalliance with republicanism, Catalonia, and still have hopes of a return to those halcyon days.
Battle hymn of the Republic
Yes, their eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
And while the North eulogised its Republic, the South too held its close to its bosom, albeit for just five years.
That said the Confederate States of America still exist in the hearts and minds of many in the Deep South.
Just like watching the detectives don’t get cute, just like watching the detectives, I get so angry when the teardrops start, But he can’t be wounded ’cause he got no heart. – Elvis Costello, Watching the Detectives
And with apologies to the Poet Laureate of New Wave.
But it’s not the bespectacled one but the new run of Line of Duty, shot in Belfast, which has got me thinking.
About my favourite detectives in the cities they are associated with.
So here are seven deadly detective shows, their music and their cities.