What a weekend of culture! Simon and Rina came up from Friday, with the plan of going to see something called "Cairo Nights" or the Farha Tour (I was quite sure of the relationship between the two names). Basically, an evening of belly dancing. Rina’s idea and I’m game for anything.

There were some delays on the way (Simon and Rina got stuck on the road, and I walked round in circles for a bit, as I’d not been to Northumbria Students Union before), so we got there a bit late. Rather disappointingly, instead of belly dancing when we arrived, there was a fat guy with a belt-line over his belly button and finger cymbals on stage; clearly, Newcastle is the place for middle-aged, post-op, transexual belly-dancers, I thought. The rest of the evening was pretty good, though. Nothing I haven’t seen before — we did get belly dancing later on, and men-in-skirts rotating very quickly, and the bloke in a two men wrestling costume. And the fat bloke with fingers cymbals again. But it was actually a really good night. Most of the seats had long gone, so we just stayed at the bar cause there was lots of floor space there (like anyone is going to believe this), watching and dancing to the music. Highly recommended.

Saturday, we went to the Baltic which, I admit, is becoming a bit of a traditional thing when people come up to visit. I’ve seen this exhibition before: some of it very strong — the John Lennon tribute in the stairwell; some of it less so — the cartoon of the guy having sex with a dog (or sheep, there was some disaggrement on this topic).

I’ve been to that particular exhibit before. In general, I go to the Baltic often enough to see most of the exhibits, but not often enough to see things twice. I actually enjoyed seeing things twice.

Finally, this afternoon, I went for a bike ride and was feeling a bit pooped afterwards, so I watched Goodbye Lenin, which I’ve had for a while but not watched. Marvellous film. Very funny, poigniant, and set against German reunification. Humour, sadness and history — well, I was always going to be a sucker for this film, but it was put together very neatly, nicely directed and with lots of internal references which reward the audience for its attention. Always useful when you are tired after a bike ride.

There were two strange things about the film though. Firstly, I have a clear memory of Barry Norman reviewing it on the Film programme — but I can’t have because it came out in 2003 well after he left. Was it another similar film I wonder. The music drove me mad as well, as I recognised it, but didn’t know where from. Actually, it was the same composer as Amelie, and it’s very similar. It worked well, but the sense of recognition was a bit distracting.

Originally published on my old blog site.