Kex, Reykjavik

Ginsberg was intoning to me as I urinated. That’s the kind of sentence I wish finished with the word ‘again’, but alas. He was broadcast to me through a speaker secured above the toilet door. It looked like it may have formed part of the Titanic’s emergency equipment; the speaker, not the door.

Kex Bar IcelandKex is an old cookie factory. Its bar area is huge and folksy. I opened my tablet to work on my novel. I am gunning for the world.

The novel was not there.

Two chapters were, but other chapters, chapters I had been working on in Iceland, were not. This was worrying. I hoped they would be returned to me as soon as I next got online.

So I decided to not think about it and read a chapter of The World According to Garp over a pot of coffee. The tip jar, a money box pig, was overflowing; I left a couple of hundred króna at his trotters. The coffee was strong and therefore good.

Early Friday afternoon is not busy in Kex on the second day of Iceland’s Summer. We sat listening to Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith under the eyes of anatomically correct paintings of birds and the pockmarked industrial-cum-artistic-space concrete ceiling.

I decided to put off worrying about the book a little more by ordering a bowl of Potato and Smoked Haddock Soup and a Pilsner. One barman had a big beard and looked calm. The other was shaven and busy. Having the time to notice these changes makes me realise I am travelling differently with age.

Kex Magnetic Poetry Wall IcelandWhen you travel in your 30s you do not partake of the magnetic poetry lift shaft or the interestingly arranged books on the bookshelves. You drink beer and read the thing you brought with you; write the thing you hope exists online somewhere still. That’s the nature of experience. Constantly starting new things results in nothing being done. Nothing good at least .

In a new country new things are happening to your brain without you asking for them. You no longer feel the need to bring something back to define a new you.

I won’t be hooking ancient speakers up in my bathroom and piping in beat poetry. I will, however, be trying my hand at that mackerel and potato soup.

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