Ninety-eight red balloons

dont-look-now-smallA journey into the city recently turned into one of those Mondays of minor irritations and muse-inspiring moments that just sticks in the mind.

It didn’t start well, since my watch strap, the subject of a few recent repair attempts, finally gave up the ghost and snapped. This turned into something of a metaphor as shortly afterwards I literally ran out of time and missed my bus to the station by seconds. Oaths and dark curses were muttered as I waited in the cold for its successor.

After transferring from train to the Metro, a guy got on with luggage but neglected to hold on as the train lurched forwards. He fell against me and trod heavily on my foot. It’s fortunate that I’d neglected to pack my razor-sharp ninja sword that morning, else he’d have been completing his journey minus his head.

As I emerged from the Metro station, I happened to glance up and spotted a single red helium balloon, lost and forlornly trapped beneath the high ceiling. It shone with a vivid intensity in the monochromatic stairwell. One could almost picture the scenario: harassed parents, wailing child, seemingly unsolvable problem that is ultimately resolved with ice cream or some other sweet bribery.

I quit my job at the helium gas factory; I refuse to be spoken to in that tone”
Stewart Francis

Annoyingly, the song 99 Red Balloons (or more accurately 99 Luftballons) popped into my head and refused to leave. In a sense the balloon had been a musical booby trap, just waiting for some poor passer-by of a certain age to see it. It could equally have been a Yellow Submarine balloon, or a Blue Moon balloon..

marmorkirkenFortunately Nena’s song was soon forgotten as I was intent on looking for an address in a (rather posh) part of town that I don’t know that well. It was, according to my map, very close to the magnificent copper-domed Frederik’s Church, popularly known as The Marble Church. Building works close-by meant a slight detour to get to it, but the area is rich in art galleries, quirky cafes and shops full of curios, so it wasn’t too unpleasant to take the longer route.

After my appointment was concluded, I stopped for a brief bite to eat in the busy square called Kultorvet (literally “The Coal Market“). There was very little coal on sale, but plenty of cafes and and shops nearby to fulfill one’s need for coffee, pastries or indeed giant inflatable plastic hammers, hats with propellers or hilarious party wigs in all styles and colours. I resisted the latter and sat down to eat the modest lunch I’d packed that morning.

I glanced up as a young woman roller-skated through the square, wearing a long, bright-red coat. It made me smile, although this time no particular songs sprang to mind. What had started out as something of a Blue Monday, had now developed a rather more red theme. I began to regret not having a camera handy, or at least not being quicker to whip out my phone and capture these moments.

32-rundetaarn5I imagined following her to the nearby Rundetårn (Round Tower) and all the way up the winding  stone ramp that leads to the top. Which is quite a feat on roller-skates. She turns and I see it’s actually the dwarf in the red coat from Don’t Look Now, grinning mischievously, before she hacks at me with a meat cleaver.

What might be my next sighting, I wondered? A red sports car, driven by a redhead who jumps a red light with Simply Red blaring from the stereo, before being caught red-handed?

It was at this moment that I came to the conclusion that my sleep-deprived brain and low blood sugar was probably making me a bit bonkers. But the sandwich and coffee soon helped, and I was on my way once more, weaving through the bustle of Copenhagen, back down into the grey bowels of the Metro.

The balloon was still there, trapped and a little sad. But hopefully its owner had moved on with his/her life, enjoyed the ice cream / chocolate treat and returned to the feverish stream of experiences that make childhood a time of seemingly endless wonder.

If only we as adults could learn to let go of our upsets and heartaches so easily, to forget all our cares and troubles with sweet treats or booze. But try as we might, some of our burdens refuse to shift, and we just get fatter in the attempts.

To paraphrase that extraordinary final scene from Blade Runner: “One day all these moments will be lost in time, like beers in Spain. Time to diet”.

(With apologies to the fabulous cast and crew of that movie masterpiece)

© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.

13 thoughts on “Ninety-eight red balloons

  1. Oh I have got fatter in the attempt to shift many a burden. Including, ironically, the burden of being fat…
    On another note, having once, in the not too distant past, been a tourist in the fair city of Copenhagen, that post was a more than pleasant meander down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed the trip James. Personally I find the biggest obstacle to a fit and healthy life is seeing fit and healthy people working out. It’s enough to drive anyone to drink / pies / chocolate.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, I’m 99% sure it’s possible to remove an earworm without any weight-gain. You just have to eat 99 very hot chili peppers and hey presto! You’re in too much pain to think about annoying songs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed that, Jason. There’s just something about red balloons which appeals. I’ve twice used them in tales over the many years.. Ah,memories of childhood, red jelly and parties and then sadness and tears as it disappeared over the chimney tops. xx Ma


  3. I’m pretty sure this whole series of sad events could have been avoided if you wore polarizing glasses that prevented you from seeing red, some headphones playing something classy like Rhianna or Ed Sheeran, and maybe a Guiness or 3.

    But that’s just me…


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