Road to Axum

We set off for the Central Highlands, aiming first for Gondar, then the Simien Mountains en route to Axum where the Queen of Sheba is thought to be buried. We stopped to walk through a market and were back 2000 years; donkeys, mules, blacksmiths, grain, herbs and spices, women inspecting a baking tray and then…

We live in paradise

  I never thought that here in Addis, at a church, with the faithful kneeling and bobbing their heads, this week before Easter, I would come to see my relatives, my grandmother and her sisters, some of my cousins, even my own children, in the tone of skin, the slightness of frame, hook of nose.…

Late Summer in Sussex

Late August 2009 we returned from Glyndebourne, travelling via Virginia Woolf's home, Monk's House Rodmell Sussex. We had seen a revival of Handel's Giulio Cesare and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. We stopped for picnic lunch at a field not far from Monk's House and could see in the late summer light the River Ouse. Entering…

Language of health care

I have to say that my interest in words is elemental. I study words, enjoy them, and gaze at them as one would a sculpture. Indeed for me, a word is a sculpture. Imagine the word ‘obfuscate’, the ‘fus’ in it has all the attraction for me, of carrion for ravens, it is a basic…

Sea of grass

If you are in the Serengeti, and you look across the sea of grass, for that is what Serengeti means and is, a sea of grass, you will see how boundless is that space, the Eastern African plains. It stretches on forever and the eye cannot take in the vastness of it. Faraway, the air…

Flashes of colour

Hibiscus is the motif of mood disorders. There are several variants. Rude red, white streaked with pink, light and dark purple, orange. Then bushes and hedges. Even trees. When I was a boy, our front garden had a red hibiscus hedge. The leaves had that glossy, luscious green colour that in the evening darkened into…

Bird of Paradise Lily

The fusion of the images of a bird and a lily is an example of how glorious language is, in depicting the world we live in. But, it is not the extraordinary and awesome power of language in this sense that I am after. Neither the mystery of metaphor nor how it is the basis…

Another walk

The weather that weekend had been cold! The temperature hardly rising above freezing. But thankfully the snow had been mainly a light dusting of talcum powder. Nonetheless the hills were darkly defined against the fields. The stream plashed and glistened as it flowed downhill. The light now fading was a gray, mellow, bluish light. Sombre,…

The drive to Art

We drove from Kalgoorlie to Lake Ballard in search of Anthony Gormley’s sculptures. This is an account of the trip itself and it asks what is it that drives us to art? Kalgoorlie is a mining town, actually it is an out back town 7 hours by train from Perth, the nearest metropolis. It is…