Not the sort of thing I normally carry on the street.
I can’t believe I’m writing about handbags. Anybody who knows me knows I’m not exactly a fashionista.
My day often begins with Mevrouw T telling me that I’m wearing the wrong coloured socks, me telling her the socks are very comfortable and that my trousers will cover them anyway, her suggesting that while I have my shoes off I may as well change the disgusting trousers too, and me bowing to her superior judgement in all matters of dress.
So you can imagine I’m not the ideal person to be reviewing a museum dedicated entirely to fashion accessories.
I do however like art, design and social history, and this remarkable small museum in a lovely Amsterdam canal house has all of these in spades. Continue reading
There’s a hint of what is to come at breakfast in the hotel dining room. An older woman is greeted by her companions singing for her. We presume it’s her birthday. What makes the event so electrifying for us is that the Estonians sing beautifully; lilting, accurate three part harmony, conducted by one of the birthday girl’s party, with the whole room joining in. Choral singing is Estonia’s favourite pastime, and it played an important part in their drive for independence.
Just out of Tallinn’s city centre, facing a grassy slope, stands a performance shell which can accommodate 30,000 singers on the podium, according to our guide Rita. Michael Jackson once performed here, and more recently Madonna set the place rocking. But I wish I’d been here for the Estonian Folk Song Festival in 1988 when, with cracks starting to appear in the Soviet Union, a choir sang Mu isamaa on minu arm, a poem by Lydia Kodula set to music by festival conductor Gustav Ernesaks.
Singing this unofficial Estonian national anthem had meant a one way ticket to Siberia since it was banned by the Soviet authorities. However, when an audience of over 100,000 rose to its feet and joined the choir, KGB agents looked on helplessly, and the independence movement became unstoppable. Ernesaks’ statue now sits above the park, his chin in his hand. When the sculptor was asked why his subject was watching thoughtfully, rather than conducting, the answer was, ‘His work is done. Now he’s on holidays.’
For more on the singing revolution, including film footage see:www.thesingingrevolution.com
The writer was a guest of Odyssey Travel.
Extract from first publication by Sun-Herald, Sydney