I boarded the plane in Charles DeGaulle Airport, destined to stop over in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, en route to Niger. Happily, Lia had come to Paris with me for a few days while I collected a work visa from the Niger Embassy.[Read more…] about Basketball Manifestations
There is an acacia tree in the front garden across the road from the Woodbastwick Road Junction in London’s SE26. I’ve seen it in full bloom in early March while I was walking London’s Capital Ring. Between Sydenham and Penge, it is adorned with bright yellow balls that appear light as feathers and grouped together into a conical habit. A tree that dresses to impress. A tree that’s worth seeing.
The day I saw it, it reminded me of the acacia in our back garden. An equally impressive tree that is generally purple. It sometimes shows greenish or yellowish or grey or brown. But as I said, it’s generally purple. We’ve recently shaped it into a topiarists ball. Once it was a wonderful place for two cats to hang out but they’ve moved on and now it’s great song perch for garden birds.[Read more…] about Deadly Acacia
I forgot the word sahel when I was writing From Memory. It’s the word that describes where I was in Niger. Tim Marshal reminded me that it comes from the Arabic word ‘sahil’ meaning coast. Shorelines are another of the things that depend on your perspective; the sea of Saharan sands has a southern coast. Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography is a great read for an armchair cartographer. Follow it along The New Silk Roads from Peter Frankopan to test if your current physical isolation is more or perhaps less constraining than an asymptomatic educational isolation. I’m not intending to be rude or patronising. Knowing you have limitations wakes you to the possibilities that your awareness of your limits is itself limited. Knowing of such limits may encourage you to explore for new concepts, seek the words to conjure and invoke and animate and debate them. Or cause you to distrust your perception.[Read more…] about Words
There’s an ad that’s been on our fence for over 10 years. We brought it home as a souvenir from a week on the Côte d’Azur in the fishing port of Villfranche-sur-mer, a place widely known because of the Cocteau Chapel or U2’s video Electrical Storm or the retired-Bond movie Never Say Never Again. A great place to spend a few days even if we’re not Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
The ad is in metal and enamel, a touristy replica of the famous fin de siècle poster for Absinthe Blanqui. A fully clothed red-headed woman is adorned in green ribbons with an upper arm wrapped with a serpent. Or at least she was. The green devil dress and every other colour has drained away, a metaphor for the absinthe itself dripping through sugar cubes.[Read more…] about Absinthe
Our eldest grandson once dropped a lightning strike in our kitchen. It broke as it hit the table top. Shattered in fact. I’d brought the lightning strike home in a bottle some twenty years before. A plastic bottle, stuffed with toilet paper to protect the delicate lightning strike. An age-old message in a new-age bottle. An untold story found on the shores of a lake dying in an incoming tide of sand. Our ten year-old grandson was very uneasy after the accident, looking in horror at the shards of lightning that lay on the table. It was a lightning strike that had been recorded in sand, its heat creating a vitreous memory with a dendritic shape that mapped the path of the electrical discharge. A very elegant and tactile artefact, a fossilised lightning strike known as a fulgurite. I found this one at the base of very small dune somewhere north of Lake Chad. I’d seen what appeared to be broken twigs lying on the surface. I was curious since I’d not seen any plants for hours and KB stopped the Land Cruiser for a closer look. I’d never seen fulgurites before but I knew of them so maybe this was a lightning strike and worth keeping. Whether recent or older than the ancient trade routes that criss-crossed this desert, who could say. And so I picked it up and it made its way into a just-emptied water bottle after being wrapped in some of the emergency toilet paper we kept in the 4×4. And thence, eventually, it came to Ireland. And for the sake of our grandson, I’m pleased to say that I brought home more than one. And he was relieved to know that too.[Read more…] about From Memory