August 2015


Letters from ElsewhereYou’ve always felt lost on Fridays, haven’t you? You wandered around aimlessly, frantically searching for an excuse not to do cleaning or ironing or some other chore.

Well, search no longer. Here, on this very space, every Friday, characters will pop out of fiction to talk to you about… anything. And then they’ll hasten back again, so that you can see them in their worlds when you buy the books they come from. All you have to do is to come along to this blog and read what they have to say.

When does all this start? Next Friday, 4 September. Where? Right here. I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve seen this joke several times.

AN ISRAELI ON VACATION
An Israeli is on vacation and is visiting a zoo in England when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion’s cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside his cage, right under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The Israeli runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch. Whimpering from the pain, the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the Israeli brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him profusely.

A reporter has watched the whole event. The reporter says to the Israeli: ‘Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I’ve ever seen a man do in my lifetime.’ The Israeli replies: ‘Why, it was nothing, really. The lion was behind bars. I just saw this little girl in danger and acted as I felt right.’

The reporter says: ‘Well, I’ll make sure this doesn’t go unnoticed. I’m a journalist, and tomorrow’s paper will have this story on the front page. So, what country are you from, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?’

The Israeli replies: ‘I’m from Israel. I serve in the Israeli army and I vote for the Likud.’ The journalist leaves.

The following morning, the Israeli buys the paper to see what was reported and reads, on the front page: ‘RIGHT-WING ISRAELI ASSAULTS AFRICAN IMMIGRANT AND STEALS HIS LUNCH.’

And that pretty much sums up the media’s approach to Israel.

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If you want to get a more balanced view of Israel and its inhabitants, try my series of posts in the English Informer. The second one is now available here.

Another theme from my trip to the UK is: cows. We saw them often as we hiked around the Wye Valley, mostly lazing around chomping, except on one particular afternoon…

As we rounded a clump of trees in a field, they came towards us and stood there, blocking our path.

Cows7We weren’t scared, of course. After all, they were just harmless cows.

But they were rather large. I mean, if one of those stepped on you, or pushed you against the barbed wire fence, you’d feel it.

Cows1Anyway, I had my man to protect me… until he escaped when I wasn’t looking, going round them while they concentrated their attention on me and D looked on with amusement.

Cows11Fearlessly… well not really… I tried to go round the other way, but they moved in that direction and continued to block me.

Somehow, I managed to get through at last.

Cows12At the stile, I pushed the gate and squeezed through, my head twisting my neck as I guarded my rucksack. Scared? Me? Of course not!

Cows13Although I might stick to Swiss cows in future.

Me and Cow

As I look through the photos from my recent 5-week trip to the UK, several themes occur to me, one of which is old buildings.

They start with Leek, near Stoke-on-Trent, where I went out for a short wander before rain sent me scurrying back. (I hadn’t expected to need a raincoat.)Leek Leek Leek

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Then there was York, which has its fair share of ancient buildings.

Clifford’s Tower

York Cathedral

York Cathedral

St Mary's Abbey, gardens of Yorkshire Museum

St Mary’s Abbey, gardens of Yorkshire Museum

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While staying in the Wye Valley, we saw:

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey

Bath: Roman Baths

Bath: Roman Baths

St Martin's Church, Cwmyoy

St Martin’s Church, Cwmyoy. Yes, it really does lean even more than that tower in Pisa.

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

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Those buildings have seen so many events since they were built: war and peace, births and deaths. Despite it all, they’re still standing, ready for us to enter between their ancient walls, read their ancient signs and muse on centuries of history.

The first bit of news is that it is cooler than it was when we arrived home. Phew!

The second is that I will write about my trip. Maybe even tomorrow.

The third is that my first in a series of articles has appeared in the English Informer in the UK and the English Informer in France.

The fourth is that my publisher, Crooked Cat, is having a book sale on Amazon, but not for long. A large collection of excellent books is up for grabs. So is mine. Mine, too. (If you’re not in the UK, search for ‘Crooked Cat Publishing’ on your Amazon.)

CrookedCatSummerSale2015

I just appear to be back, sitting at my desk, typing on my laptop.

In reality I’m still in the UK, hiking in the Wye Valley, meeting up with authors and other friends.

I have lots to say and no time to say it. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some links that didn’t get much of a mention before:

What I wanted to be when I grew up, on Girl Talk

Talking with the English Informer

Excerpt from Neither Here Nor There, Chapter 1, in the English Informer

Excerpt from Neither Here Nor There, Chapter 13, in the English Informer