‘If we told the folks back home we were drinking WINE they’d be horrified!’
‘Really?’ I asked, astonished. ‘Why on earth is that?’
‘All as anyone drinks back home with their dinner is milk! They think we’re strange enough as it is for wanting to honeymoon in Europe!’ She said Europe as if it were the equivalent of taking a holiday on Mars. There was a distinct scent of fear that clung to the air around her that her friends would shun her if she ever revealed the truth of what they had participated in on their travels.
With my suspicions about the unglobal mindset of all Americans confirmed by a statistical polling of two, that left few good things to say about the country. As far as I was concerned it was a miracle they’d managed to produce something as brilliant as the TV series The Addams Family which was equalled only by their ability to send man to the moon. They may have helped save Europe in WWII but they’d sure made an apocalypse of Vietnam and it was only that ‘sending man to the moon’ business that saved their arses in the global opinion polls. I remember very precisely the day Neil Armstrong took the Giant leap for Mankind. It might have been Sunday July 20th 1969 in the States but in Melbourne it was a Monday morning, 10.19am 21st of July to be precise. It wasn’t until my dad came home from work, ordered a stiff scotch from my mother and announced, ‘Those bloody Yanks have finally done it! They walked on the moon today!’ that I knew something special had happened. My dad turned on and tuned in the old black & white TV. as I lay on the Raffia matting that covered our living room floor and my mother took up her seat in her Addams Family chair and speculatively lit a cigarette. There on the six o’clock news that most households religiously watched, was the first crackly and static filled images of Neil Armstrong as he leaped stiffly onto the dusty surface of the moon and spoke those immortal words. At school the next day it was all anyone could talk about. No longer could we say things like ‘I’ll eat my broccoli when men walk on the moon’. I was in grade 1 and what I most remember was that all the other little kids’ eyes were like saucers. Our teacher procured a television set and we watched the replay on the morning news and speculated in hushed and amazed tones about whether we thought we’d be going to live on the moon and that maybe the next year we’d get to meet some Martians because surely it wouldn’t be too long before those astronauts went there too, because clearly those Yanks were capable of anything now!
|My mum in her Addams Family chair|
Anyways, when Occy(R) and I decided to travel to the States in 2007 to further his medical education, I was a rather reluctant traveller – I could think of 50 other places I’d rather be exploring, but I supposed if I had to go I’d suffer it. We started in Las Vegas and the people were certainly eccentric but friendly, the Grand Canyon amazing and the shows great. Okay, off to a reasonable start. Next was a pit stop for a week in New York. Apart from a love for the Chrysler building that I’d acquired in first year architecture, I was sure I was going to hate it – I now want to move there! That city in the summer completely seduced me! The ‘Guggi’ (Guggenheim museum from whence my name was extrapolated by Occy – he expanded it to Guggilaba, then re-shortened it to Guggi) now sits alongside the Louisiana Art Gallery by the sea on the outskirts of Copenhagen as some of my most favourite buildings and places of pilgrimage in the world. Sometimes I just long to be back there and when I do return it is always with a sigh of homecoming relief.
|Occys shot of the classic Guggi interior|