In its valiant attempt to impersonate a real summer, our Danish August is currently impressing and forging a path to the first of September when, come rain or shine, the Danes will don their autumnal uniform of warm brown or black leather jackets, trousers and hats.
Until the conformity of that September day, I reminisce on a summer spent watching the Olympics, building a summerhouse and nursing a niggling doubt.
The Olympics are, we are told, a celebration of all that is good about the human race. It is sponsored by great and conscientious companies like Visa, who in no way encourage us into worsening debt, McDonald’s, who provide only healthy meals and cannot be connected with obesity, and British Petroleum, who always clean up their oil spills. Other major sponsors who fund wars or conceal the fact they use genetically-modified crops in their products are also welcome to the celebration.
Yes, the London Olympics were great. It consisted of a great opening ceremony followed swiftly by a closing ceremony, ruined only by the complete lack of David Bowie. Usain Bolt, between these ceremonies, meanwhile won the Olympics single-handedly for Jamaica.
However, while Bolt’s success is unquestioned, the jury is still out on my summerhouse.
The ‘with my own bare hands’ approach has proved very successful in terms of the buying of wood, tools and beer, but not quite so triumphant in the building walls, doors or a roof.
But alas, my summer wasn’t all TV watching and DIY bliss. Throughout the summer, I was dogged by a niggling doubt. Throughout these sunless months, the majority of my emails have started with the same words: “Just back at work from the holiday”. As I did not go on holiday, I have been pondering the motivation for this lie. Why the façade? I have no fear of being shunned by my summer holiday-idolising Danish co-workers. I do not need to excuse any unreliability with a feigned pressure from a return to work. However, the need to repeat these words throughout the summer was strong. It was almost like I had a fervent wish for the summer not to have happened, but couldn’t put my finger on why. Last week however, after one particular heroic beer filled-night at a noise concert at the music venue Mayhem, the answer hit me. Death was on my mind.
This summer, we lost three artists and men. Some were better known than others, but all were great and all were around 50 years young.
On August 5 in Paris we lost the French documentary filmmaker and photographer Eric Sandrin. I first met Eric in 1990, just after he had made a documentary about the Mai Juku dance company ‘Min Tanaka & Maijuku’. I worked with him a couple of times after this and met him on the occasions I was in France. He was the warmest and gentlest of men, with a superb visual eye. I knew many who knew him and without exception he’ll be sorely missed.
In mid-July my office colleague was killed in a road accident. I did not know Ken Lindemann very well, but what I do know was that I liked him very much. He was a graphic designer and webmaster. Quiet, gracious and clearly talented, we had happily welcomed him into our theatre office and mourned the loss of getting to know him.
Between both the above deaths passed the British choreographer and founding member of the famous DV8 dance company, Nigel Charnock. I had met him twice at festivals here. He was impressive. Like a bottle of champagne, he seemed to be in a constant readiness to be opened. He was an exceptional and very inspirational artist.
I did not finish the summerhouse, appreciate the Olympics or write any good emails, but it did not seem to matter. I felt very privileged to have known these three men.
In the words of Langston Hughes: “Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Let life be like music. And death a note unsaid.”