17th November 2010
Near Hammeren, Oslo, Norway.
This tree is like a mile stone for me and my project. It’s also quite symbolic… a gift from Norway to England. Officially a gift to London from Oslo but still… it is a warm gesture at what it supposed to be a ‘warm’ time of year.
Being half Norwegian and a big part of me English – by culture anyway… the tree a gift for ‘national friendship’ and acknowledgement of protecting the king and government during the second world war. Could have been me they were protecting right? Well… they were – I just wasn’t born yet… and I often feel like Royalty… ish. When I don’t feel like an idiot. To qualify this… well. We’re all princes aren’t we – unless we’re princesses. And we’re all right royal idiots too. That’s what I meant.
Anyway I’m writing this retrospectively, I’ve actually written more about this tree that you’ll get to read later. If you’re interested…
So… I wasn’t allowed to go high for fear of snapping branches… it’s picked out five years ahead of time as a possible candidate for London. Rune Askvik, is waiting below – probably worrying letting me into the tree – helping into the tree was a really stupid idea… And I’ve got these little decorations in my pocket. Political decorations.
Since this tree was given as a protection from wartime fascism I wanted to make a point. Leave behind a trace of my thinking. These poppies. I had them prepared in a packet in my pocket and the idea was to tie them to the tree with a wool thread - hide the little decorations up in the branches. Again – I’ll write more about this later but for now I’ll explain briefly what my thinking is all about. The red poppy is as we all know it; remembrance and gratitude for the fallen soldiers.
The white or the black one – at the time I couldn’t decide which, but either of these, and it could be either depending on how you feel or your disposition (Man in Black – Johnny Cash style, or white for peace or surrender – slightly more passive and positive), are for the soldiers and innocent sent or caught up in wars… sent or caught up in wars by the greedy war oil-o-holic money and power mongers that our government collude with. Norway and the UK make weapons that kill people, we sell them, the Uk specially sells a lot of them, and holds arms fairs… we side with the USA who have extremely dubious motives for entering into illegal wars. What ever an illegal war is. Just sounds so kind of odd to legalise a war. Oh that war’s ok, and that one isn’t. Some kind of standards you have to pass. Like 007. A U.N. licence to kill.
So… just to say finally – as I will continue on this vain and tell you what happened next, but I can tell you that these poppies never made it to Trafalgar sq.
This is Rune Askvik, the forest ranger in charge of dealing with the Trafalgar Sq. Christmas Tree… There’s an interview with him to follow… – not yet transcribed. He’s a dude. I liked him a lot. At first he told me I wouldn’t be able to climb the tree, that the branches were too thin. I thought 3 months of expectation would be lost since thinking ‘I have to climb this tree!’ So he tells me it’s not climbable but I think I’ve got to go and see it anyway and even if I have to climb a tree nearby with a view of this one I will. There’s still a story there. Blocked from climbing at the last hurdle. Did I mention the Norwegian embassy? The moment I mentioned climbing the tree – the guy told me I’d be arrested. It was the first thing he said.
Anyway… I’m turning into an obsessive – my head full of banal and inconsequential thoughts to achieve my strange objective. It’s just climbing a tree. Does it really matter which tree it is? In the words of Rune – “Do I also build a model railway?” Ha! cheeky bugger. But it’s a fair question – sort of.
So my political message fell apart – or at least the delivery did. The tree is more spacious than I thought – nowhere to hide a red and white poppy on turquoise wool. That and Rune is below watching me. Rune tells me it will be inspected very carefully for bugs. Quarantined Christmas tree.
I have been thinking about this messaging quite a bit. If I planted my idea/decor in the tree, am I highjacking/defacing someone else’s gift. I’d be contaminating the purity of it with my intervention. It’s an innocent gift – a simple token or ‘nice gesture’ as Don put it. (Don will feature later on when I get to inputting the interview with him – he was a 2nd WW veteran I met).
However both these countries I’m tied to speak on my behalf, the political powers represent me and misrepresent me on the global stage. This is not tit for tat, – you abused my gift of trust by starting wars when I / we didn’t want them, so I’m going to abuse yours, by spoiling or altering your gift. Like saying genuinely mean things about the Groom in the speeches – they may be true but they’re already married and it’s supposed to be an occasion for celebration. Make fun of him but don’t say he slept with 6 women the week before he met the bride. It’s bad taste. On the other hand… this is life and death right now. Elitism vs the little people. Money over life. Should Norway be allowed to say thanks for protecting the elite during the ‘just war’ without me pointing out our soldiers are dying in a war over oil? It’s not about being allowed or not… it’s about curtesy. Where do you draw the line with it and under what circumstances should you step over it.
So it’s an opportunity for me to say something without taking my clothes off and streaking through parliament or writing to my MP. It’s a little opportunity. Or in reality it was an opportunity because it’s not in the tree. Rune said he might have picked out a bushier one if it had been up to him this year. My poppy’s could have hidden quite nicely in it.