Foreign Logics

CD ROM by Bernard Cohen and David Bickerstaff


Text Extracts from Foreign Logics

From the town centre, one can amble on foot into the Netherlands, and Belgium is a short bicycle ride away. It is common for residents to shop in Belgian supermarkets, with their different and cheaper range of foods, and my guide book recommends popping over the border to load up with Dutch cheeses.
We English-speakers together represent hundreds of years of British foreign policy; we are living repercussions of Britain's "Cape to Cairo" policy of African colonisation and slave trade profiteering, remnants and results of English gentlemen and undesirables sent to New Worlds and Antipodes.
Our "Belgian" dinner is in the twentieth-century French style, unidentifiable meats disguised with various creamy sauces.

***

The American president's most statesmanlike portrait stares out from every bus shelter in the city, some overpinned with a competing protest announcement: assemble at 12 noon in Willy-Brandt-Platz.
The American president's impending arrival closes the entire heart of the town, clogs roads for 60 miles with converging security police, compels security services to seal tight every manhole leading to every drain leaking towards the town centre.
This must be how presidents always travel, with hundreds to prepare for and undo the effects of their every move. He sweeps in, sweeps out, moderately damaging the local economy and leaving only local newspaper stories and a few souvenir posters. Away from home, when he is revered, it is for his individual vision; when he is despised, the loathing is directed towards his embodiment of the American nation. Dozens of day-trip US secret servicemen sitting around the Market Square gorge themselves on penne arabiata and pizza.
No doubt truckloads of heavy duty solvents are on the way, and overalled workers preparing to unglue the drains.

***

Lunch: hamburger, which I feel ashamed to have chosen. I am an inadequate tourist.

***

There's a shop in O- Street which sells party decorations. Its doorway is a popular hang-out for pink-faced men with paper bags. On this particular day, the window display consists of pink elephants sliding back and forth in front of a sea of pink tinsel. The old man in the doorway is killing himself laughing. He cannot believe it.
'They're really there.' I am trying to be helpful, imagining that swooping pink pachyderms might disturb an inebriated older person.
The man appears to look at me, but does not respond to my revelation. He continues to laugh, to rock to and fro more or less in rhythm with the movement of the mechanised elephants, to clutch his bottle of methylated spirits.

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