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You know in a pub quiz, when the picture round is 'Famous people's eyes'? I have never come across these eyes in such a quiz. It's just too easy to guess. Oh, the intensity. If Picasso hadn't been a famous painter, perhaps the most famous painter of all time, it's not difficult to imagine these eyes staring out from a mug shot, an infamous mass murderer awaiting trial and execution. Yes, strangely enough, in this most self-assured, perhaps a bit megalomaniac, artist's eyes, I also see fear. 

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The Arts Society of Mallorca has done it again! Super-kudos to their programme secretary Eddie Erlank (above) - he is like a heat-seeking missile in finding the best, most riveting speakers. Yes, riveting! People were on the edge of their seats as Val Woodgate listed the possible 1% (7) of all the girls and women Pablo Picasso restlessly ploughed through during his long life, with more or less disastrous consequences. Even I knew that two of them had committed suicide, but I didn't know that both of them had done it on or close to his birthday. The ultimate self-harm as revenge, hoping that NOW he'd be sorry? 

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And yes, as the very funny Woodgate remarked: "Picasso was devastated. For four, five... almost a week!" Everybody chuckled of course, as we did when she said he was a serial monogamist ... with many overlappings. Yes, comedy is tragedy plus time. But I couldn't help thinking of these women. Forget about the dumping and overlapping; how could he have treated them while they were together? Was he so kind, interesting and attentive great in bed that they never forgot him and chose to kill themselves when they saw there was no chance of getting him back? But if yes, how does that explain his son drinking himself to death and his grandson also killing himself? 

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With the women it's easy to imagine him first fixing those laser-beams on them and staring them down, then treating them as if they were the only woman in the world, showering them with attention (maybe the first time anyone had done that) and making them feel like a goddess. For a week. And then dropping them so hard that they never recovered. It's harder to see how he could have such a devastating effect on children and grandchildren, but as his granddaughter Marina said in her book Picasso: My Grandfather: "''He drove everyone who got near him to despair and engulfed them. No one in my family ever managed to escape from the stranglehold of this genius. He needed blood to sign each of his paintings: my father's blood, my brother's, my mother's, my grandmother's and mine. He needed the blood of those who loved him -- people who thought they loved a human being, whereas they really loved Picasso.'' 

So - yeah! Cheers! It was such a good talk though, by a woman on top of her game. She made me interested in finding out more about Picasso, an artist I have hitherto ignored. I really only like his blue period where you can see what everything is and there aren't dicks sticking out of each nostril, but Woodgate fortunately showed us some of his early work. At the age of 13, he was already a very accomplished painter with the technical skills most artists three times his age can only salivate about. I KNEW it! To be able to break so many rules so virtuously, you just have to follow them first. 

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But geniuses are always excused, aren't they? I wonder if he would have got away with such behaviour had he been born in, say 1979. But then he wouldn't have been Picasso anyway, and had the upbringing and brain construction/underactive cortex that together create the type of genius that is driven (I'm guessing here) by fear of spending even a second not being the greatest, most potent man on earth.

If you live in Mallorca and want a deeply interesting, very different (and social) experience once a month, join The Arts Society! It's only 70 euros for a whole years' worth of being riveted! And the wine and tapas afterwards are very, very good. 

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P.S. The photos have nothing to do with Picasso or his relatives. They are just of fun people and wine I met. 




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I spent parts of December - gloriously sunny every single day except the 13th and 14th when my friend L was visiting from Hong Kong - shooting pleasant scenes around the island. Here is the result: 

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Cancer is a word I don't like to say - much in the same way as the number 4 is unlucky in Chinese culture because they think it sounds like the word 'death'. Well, it does. Four: Sei. Death: Sei. ( 4:  四 sei. Death: 死 sei)

So when I tell people where I'm working every Tuesday from 2 to 6, I don't normally say "The Cancer Shop" but "The Charity Shop." The founder and other workers at the Charity Shop have no such scruples, or should we say linguistic superstitions. Their website is called Cala Nova Cancer Cala Nova Cancer and their Facebook page, Cala Nova Cancer Care. All the proceeds from the shop go to cancer care here on Mallorca - they rake in so much $$$ and help so many people that it will take me a week to mention it all. So I think that's a good enough cause to spend my time on. 

Yes, I started working there because, having recently become European, I can't afford to give a lot of money to charities anymore and therefore I give time. It's certainly more fun than just transferring funds by the electric internet-machine! And with much better music. Yesterday I grooved around the shop, dusting shelves to the accompaniment of Andrea Bocelli and then Elvis!

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Talking of poverty, I really wish i had known about this shop when I first moved here, instead of faffing around with going to Bauhaus and Carrefour, and then struggling with deliveries. The Cancer Shop has EVERYTHING: Clothes, electronic stuff like TVs and CD/DVD players; lamps, cups, plates, all you can imagine in electric appliances, even bedclothes, shoes... and untold books and CDs. That's just off the top of my head.  And candles shaped as apples! And paintings. And two chess boards made of glass! 

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AND if you have a horse, you can get a whole set of horse-grooming equipment for only 20 euros. Oh, and a pair of tanning lamps if you're in the mood for becoming orange. 

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If you'd like to spruce up your wardrobe (all items around 3 euros), need furniture and cups, or just want to support a very good cause - who doesn't know someone who's been struck down with cancer? - come to the Cala Nova Cancer Shop and take a look! It's newly dusted by me! 

Talking of Chinese words, Chinese New Year is coming up and I'm doing a big dinner on February 8th, with traditional CNY dishes whose degree of luck is based on the way they sound. Like Fish (魚)yu, sounds like Surplus (餘) yu. Sign up!

Other homonyms: Kumquat: 柑桔 Gam gat, sounds like 金吉 gam gat, Gold and Luck 

Book: 書 Syu, Lose: 輸 Syu. So it's unlucky to go into a bookshop and ask for a book. You have to ask for a "Win" 贏 (yeng) instead. Makes sense! 

We accept donations of all sorts and we accept customers who buy up everything! And a helping hand.

Calanova Cancer Care, Joan Miró 358, San Agustin

Tel: 971 708 664



Joan-Miro-Museum,-outside,-sunshine-Alejandro- Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.comI know nothing, no, less than nothing, about art, but even I would recognise a Miro almost anywhere. The colours, the mischief bursting out of each canvas, the seemingly naive and childlike technique, so effortless-looking that you know there are millions of hours of work behind it - this geezer was truly unique. And now I live in his street! 

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Miró, wild spirit, it says here in the reception of the elegant and ethereal Miró Fundació a few minutes' (well, 25) walk from my gaff. Would it be churlish to point out that they could have put the Fundació in the street named after him, Avenue Joan Miro? Well, yes, because the museum is actually right where he lived and worked - intensely - for the last 25 years of his life. 

And if you got up every morning to see this (minus the crappy buildings), wouldn't you be working in an artistic fever as well?

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The Arts Society of Mallorca had arranged an engaging and lively talk by Alejandro over at the Fundació. Don't you love watching people in action who really know their stuff and, more importantly, love their stuff with a vengeance? Listening to Alejandro and getting a good look at the actual workshop where Miró worked feverishly to churn out more and more stuff, I wanted to find out more about this Spanish national treasure. Good thing he didn't stay on in his birthplace Barcelona, but moved to Mallorca and married local beauty Pilar Juncosa, an artist in her own right. 

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 The really cool thing about Miro's workshop, apart from the location, the building itself complete with Miro's signature colours red (sun), blue (sky and water) and yellow (crops)

Joan-Miro-Museum,-outside,-colours-and-Alejandro Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

the view and of course his incredible canon of work, was that it was kept just like he left it when he left the world in 1983. All his paints and brushes were there, as well as a quirky collection of bits and pieces he had picked up on his many travels, like Hopi figures from Arizona, a bat skeleton, a biscuit, and several items made by his grandchildren. My eyes immediately zoomed in on some Chinese characters:

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I was hoping it was that Miro had gone to China pre-revolution, before the communists ruined the Chinese written language, among other things, and there learnt Chinese characters. But no, this book and ink were from a trip he made to Japan. According to Alejandro, Miro had been greatly inspired by Japanese art and is held in high esteem in that country. Indeed, as soon as he discovered how the calligraphers and artists made ink, he bought up the whole ink-shop. Too right! Chinese characters rule. The proper ones that is, not simplified. 打倒簡體字!

You know what? I'm going to find out more about Joan Miro. I'm going back to the museum, see if I don't! Oh, and also they have THE best gift shop I have ever seen. 

Miró Mallorca Fundació, Carrer Saridakis 29. Tel: 34 971701420







Kowloon and Hong Kong Island seen from the 80th floor of an office building I worked in. Langham Hotel that was.

My father, God bless his departed soul, had an "interesting" sense of humour, combined with, when I was young, a somewhat intense dislike of teenage boys. 

Whenever my father answered the door when a boy came to ask for me, the boy would say "Is Cecilie at home?" and my father would answer "yes" and slam the door. That was it. 

IFC 2 towers over Hong kong

When I eventually found out and angrily confronted my father, he just said, smirking: "I answered the question truthfully." 

I was thinking about that today when I had to leg it into Palma because of an emergency: My laptop charger from 2005 or something had finally breathed its last on a trip to England. When I tried to buy a new charger at Bristol Airport they kind of laughed, in that youthful "I don't even know what a laptop IS" kind of way that the modern people use. But the thing was, I had just had my hard drive modernised and the whole machine was humming with the vigour of a MacBook made only a few minutes ago. I just couldn't buy a new one just to get an up-tp-date charger.

So this morning I called up the Apple Shop and asked if they had a charger for such a baby in geriatric's clothing and YES my Spanish worked well enough and YES they had it! So it would have been churlish of me to feel a bit miffed when I got there and realised she had omitted the little sentence "... but it's closed today." Some kind of festival - again. 

I hopped over to have-everything-in-the-world El Corte Inglés, and found that one of the things of which they have everything is time. The customers rock up for a good old chat, and all the staff members are very happy to oblige. I waited 25 minutes before I got to speak to someone. Not being a total Luddite despite what everybody says, I had even taken a photo of the contact point of the laptop, AND the model number!

"Oh, sorry, we don't have that one. It's too old. But go to the other Corte Inglés in the Avenues." (20 minutes' walk away). I trotted to the Avenues full of hope and joy, only to find out that this staff member had also omitted a crucial little add-on: "... but not today, because it's closed." 

A water buffalo wallows in mud on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Oh well. As long as I was in The Avenues, I might as well go to the Chinese Supermarket and buy some fresh lotus root and peanut oil. And get more information about what's happening in Palma at Chinese New Year. This again led me to miss my bus home by five seconds. Oh well, I might as well walk to the next bus stop. And that's how, reader, I met Au Sau Laan from Hong Kong who is in Palma to study Spanish, and she again chose Palma because of some people she met in a bus stop in Hong Kong!

The village where I lived the last 16 years I spent in Hong Kong: Pui O, Lantau Island.

We both agreed: Total destiny. 

Oh, and all the photos are from Hong Kong. just like Sau Laan and me! 

香港 - Heung Gong (Hong Kong)

甘茜蓮 - Gam Sin Lin (my name in Cantonese)

緣份 - Yun Fan - destiny