Saturday, 18 February 2017

Yørgjin Oxo - a play of elements

Photo credit: Farnham Maltings

Farnham Maltings Theatre Group is on tour, playing Yørgjin
Oxo, by Thomas Crowe.Directed by Gavin Stride & Kevin Dyer
Tour Manager is Olly Jacques

As the audience arrives, the actors mingle with them, offering them delicious twig tea and Marshland cakes.
The story is about Marshlanders and it is as much a celebration of sound effects – sometimes singing without words – as it is of the characters and
landscape.
 

Uncle Quagmire teaches our eponymous young hero about the delights of mud and boggy ground.
When danger appears, it is brutal and shocking. Many Marshlanders are taken as prisoners to Firmland, where they have to work as slaves in the mud mines to make bricks, to create a vast cathedral.


Yørgjin is discovered to have special powers which only operate when he is asleep. The elements play important roles – the water of the ocean, the earth bricks of the tall cathedral that rises high up into the air, the fire that razes villages and the rain that is the ultimate saviour, after the resolute courage of a sword-wielding mouse.


Yorgjin climbs the church steeple. Photo credit: Charlotte


The acting is excellent and the plot is constantly surprising. The actors sometimes move through the audience and you feel very much a part of the story. All your emotions are drawn in. There's fear and horror inspired by Simeon, the Viking-like leader of destruction. Yet even he comes to realise he has a soul, darkened by his misdeeds but able to let him glimpse the possibility of how love could transform him.


Love in its different forms – for landscape, elements, other people and other species – creates the threads that hold the story together and brings the triumph of justice at the end.


This is a superbly-acted and warm-hearted production. Go and see it if you can.
Tour Dates here (19th February in Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway)


And Yørgjin (Robert Durbin) survives to ........ enjoy a morning bowl of porridge 





Friday, 10 February 2017

Refugees from the Russian Revolution: 2 From Kyiv to Odessa and Novorossiisk

Odessa  in early 1900s; photo credit HOBOPOCC - Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10667361

Teffi reaches Odessa where she and all the other fugitives believe they will be safer and this feeling is confirmed when France, which is one of Russia's allies, occupies the port town. But one day, without warning, the French troops left. Rumours of the approaching Bolsheviks were rife, gunfire could be heard at night, and people who had hoped to get travel permits from the French were scrambling to get on the last boats to set sail.

Friends of Teffi had passes to go on board the Shilka, heading for Vladivostok and said she could go with them.

'Now that something had been arranged, I realized just how much I wanted to leave...I could see what life would be  like for me if I stayed. It wasn't death itself that I was afraid of. I was afraid of maddened faces, of lanterns being shone in my eyes, of blind mindless rage. I was afraid of cold, of hunger, of darkness, of rifle butts banging on parquet floors. I was afraid of screams, of weeping, of gunshots, of the deaths of others. I was tired of it all, I wanted no more of it. I had had enough.'

But when she turns up on the quay at the agreed time, there were no lights on the boat, and no-one else was waiting. She went back to her hotel, where almost everyone had left, including most of the staff. When another friend turns up, distraught and not wanting to be on his own, he says that the friends who had said she could go with them on the Shilka, had already left, on board the Caucasus, heading for Constantinople. But he suggests she go with him on the Shilka, as he had two passes and didn't want to be on his own.

'We drove along the dark streets to the harbour.
We heard the odd shot somewhere nearby; in the distance, though, the gunfire sounded more serious.'


The Red Cavalry Brigade enters Odessa, 1919; photo credit wikimedia commons
 
They succeeded in getting on board the Shilka, which eventually arrived in Novorossiisk. But this journey became the most bizarre of them all, including an engineer among the passengers having to fix the engine, while all the other passengers had to load the coal for the boiler, and gut the fish for the meals, as most of the crew seemed to have absconded.
 

From Novorossiisk, where there were no rooms to be found, she ended up back on board ship and staying there, until she was asked to go to Yekaterinodar, '[which] was at this time our centre, our White capital.' Teffi's plays were being performed there, and she was asked to give a short reading. They performed to a full house; many high ranking officers including Anton Denikin, the commander in chief of the White forces in southern Russia, were in the audience. 



Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Almost all of the refugees including Teffi, believed that they would go back to Moscow or Saint Petersburg at some point or at least to some part of Russia. They also almost unanimously believed or hoped, that the Bolsheviks would soon be beaten back by the White Army and that some kind of normalcy would return. For Teffi and many others, though they did not know it at the time, they were leaving Russia for good; sailing away from Novorossiisk, meant seeing their homeland for the last time. While Teffi herself would go on to live out the rest of her life in Paris, some of her friends would return to Russia  and many of them would not survive in the Bolshevik regime.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Refugees from the Russian Revolution: 1 – From Moscow to Kyiv

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea by Teffi (Pen name of Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya) 
translated by Robert Chandler and Irina Steinberg



 


Thanks to Pushkin Press and  their excellent translations I've made another discovery, the Russian writer Teffi. In Memories she writes about her journey as she escapes Russia in 1919, in the throes of the civil war that followed the revolution. In a series of extraordinary stories and sketches, she presents memorable characters and remarkable conversations. She writes in a deceptively simple and seeming light-hearted prose about the varied adventures and sometimes near-desperate situations she and her companions undergo.

For example, after they have succeeded in leaving Moscow, the next hurdle is getting across the border into Ukraine. After a helpful officer disappears (with rumours that he has been shot, for taking bribes) it seems impossible that they will be allowed to cross the border. But in the nearby rundown transit settlement they are asked to put on a performance of plays and songs to an audience of Red Army soldiers, and assured that if they do, they will be allowed to cross. One of their number, Gooskin, says “Now we're in real trouble. Slap into the hornet's nest. Executions every day. Only three days ago a general was burned alive. And they make off with every last piece of luggage. We must get out of here fast.”

By some miracle, the day after their performance they are given the promised escort to the border and continue their journey with several changes of trains, to Kiev, where Teffi sees an extraordinary sight – a Russian officer standing outside a bakery, eating a cake. She writes,
“Just imagine – daylight, sunshine, people everywhere, and in the officer's hand, an unseen, unheard-of luxury, the stuff of legend – a cake!
I close my eyes and open them again. No, it isn't a dream. So it must be real life.”


Sunrise over modern day Kyiv
 
 Teffi finds a room to rent in Kyiv. It is virtually unfurnished and the windows don't close properly (it's winter) but it is central and spacious, and she likes it. She writes some articles for the local newspaper, Kiev Thought and then comes down with Spanish flu. In a delirious state, she remembers friends coming to visit her, bringing bouquets of flowers. After she recovered she writes,

“.. when I went outside for the first time, Kiev was all ice. Black ice and wind. The few pedestrians I saw were barely able to make their way along the streets. They were falling like ninepins, knocking their companions off their feet too.
I remember an editorial office I used to visit from time to time. It was halfway up an icy hill. Trying to get to it form below was hopeless – I'd manage ten steps then slide back down again. Approaching it from above was no better; I would gain too much momentum and slide straight past. Never in my life had I encountered such ice.
 

The mood in the city had changed; it was no longer celebratory. Something had been extinguished. Everyone was on the alert, ears pricked, eyes darting about. Many people had quietly disappeared, to destinations unknown. There was more and more talk of Odessa.
“Things are looking up in Odessa, I've heard. Whereas round here... Peasants, armed bands....They're closing in on us.....Petlyura or something....”
Kiev Thought did not fear Petlyura. Petlyura was a former employee. He would, of course, remember this.
He did indeed. His very first decree was to close down Kiev Thought. Long before he entered the city, he sent his minions ahead with instructions.
Kiev Thought was perplexed, even a little embarrassed.
But close it did.”


Centre of Kyiv today
 

Petlyura was the leader of the Ukrainian Nationalists. During the revolution and the ensuing civil war, Kyiv was sometimes controlled by the Nationalists, sometimes by the White Army and ultimately by the victorious Bolshevik army.

As well as poetry, short stories and satires, Teffi wrote plays, and this shows in her superb dialogue. As her journey continues, with events and characters becoming more and more surreal I suddenly understand Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. In an utterly bizarre world how else can you write? In situations in life which make no sense yet you have to respond to, and when these events clash hopelessly with your sense of reason, your desires, your usual way of responding and relating to others, the imagination makes leaps into fantasy.  Or the imagined past, as Bulgakov does so well as he gets inside the mind of his character of Pontius Pilate, living at a time when events were equally bizarre. 


Bulgakov had personally requested Stalin to let him emigrate, but permission was refused. The Master and Margarita was written in secret, and never published in his lifetime. But living in the Stalinist regime where he was not free either to publish what he wanted, or leave, writing his surreal masterpiece makes complete sense.

Teffi and her fellow  citizens, acquaintances, friends and colleagues are trying to escape. In situations where the normal rules of life are suspended, and as rumour follows rumour, they have no idea what is going on or what will happen. Russia, after the Revolution, was in the throes of civil war, Ukraine was occupied by the Germans, but after they retreated, Ukraine declared itself independent. After this very brief spell of autonomy, it was occupied by the White Army, followed a few months later by the Red Army.  As soldiers who had fought in the White Army found themselves no longer able to protect the city and the citizens, they were in grave danger themselves. Bulgakov's The White Guard, written several years before The Master and Margarita, tells the story of a family caught up in these terrifying times. (It was dramatised, but later suppressed by Stalin's regime.)

 
Saint Michael's monastery, Kyiv

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Dreams, Birds & Flight

Heron on Kennett & Avon canal

 Some dreams reveal their meaning immediately,  like a story that's invited you in to a whole other world. Others remain stubbornly alien, a story that doesn't seem to have much to do with you, or that speaks a language you can't unravel.

I've been writing my dreams down for a long time. And sometimes I find, when I go back in my journals and read past dream accounts, the images unfurl and make sense, they speak to me now, where they didn't before. Perhaps it is because I'm too close to present dreams, I don't know. Perhaps I'm just more aware sometimes, more perceptive.



Painting at Saint Ronan's Well, Scotland



 For me, birds in dreams, have always been clear. They are the light-winged self, the self that can fly, free from the gravity of space and of time too, for time can have its own gravity, and limitations. So I've had dreams of a tethered bird, and of an entangled bird, and they were quite clear, needed no interpretation.

Black swans in Regent's Park, London

Then there was birdsong I once woke to. But in the passage between dream and wakefulness, the sound is located within me, the birdsong and I are one, all that lift and lyric joy is who I am....and only when I'm completely awake I realise it is outside me, but – I don't forget that when I was in a different state of consciousness, it was not external to me, we were not apart.

In one dream beginning in an attic of discarded and covered objects, I think I see some movement and in response to my interest, a white bird gradually emerges, sheds its drab cover, grows enormous, with coloured patterns on its front, and huge wings that enfold me, with the kind of love that answers all our longing. This must be how it is when an angel wraps its wings around you. 



Birds cluster round angel statue in Rhodos, Greece

And then there was the bird that I was. I have flown in dreams before, but had always, as far as I knew, been myself, enjoying this new ability, the experience of flight. But in this one, as I became aware or lucid in the dream, I realised that I was this night bird, that was my being.  I was flying over moonlit pine trees and hills, feeling the wind shivering in my wing-tip feathers.

Eagle sculpture in Poznan, Poland

And in the waking world or perception, there are the dawn birds, the morning birds you watch just outside the window, feeding on grains and seeds, fat-balls and breadcrumbs, the daylight birds, sometimes in flight and sometimes sentinel-still on fence-posts, and the birds that catch the twilight in a net and draw it in, circling above treetops in conversation, or perched solitary on a topmost branch, singing their lighthouse keeper signal, not so much singing to you but singing you, as you know from the response their singing makes in you.

Heron takes off on the Kennett & Avon canal



And you know this because you once felt their song inside you, were once held by a bird as white as an albatross, and you were once a bird yourself, flying over moonlit pine trees and you haven't forgotten the feeling of flight, of freedom, the exhilaration of knowing that this bird is who you are. 



Seagull over La Manche
 

Friday, 13 January 2017

Images of Italy - Galleria Borghese


From the archives: Journal excerpts from 2003 in Italy, between my first and second visit to Albania.

Tobiolo and Cherubs at the Galleria Borghese, Rome

There was a storm in the night and the thunder was so loud it startled me from sleep and I cried out. The rain heaved itself against the windows and the balcony and lashed the rooftops and the trees outside. But by the morning, it was fair. There was a sneaky blue strip in the sky. It won't rain again I say, as if I knew what I was talking about. P makes us two small cups of strong coffee and says nothing.

We go to the Galleria Borghese. There is one Tobiolo e l'angelo (I forget the artist's name) where the angelo is wearing a bright red robe that looks as if it’s made of shiny plastic material, like rainwear with reflective qualities. Tobiolo has a spiky hairdo, filtered with wires of light, like a nascent halo. His hand is in the angel's and he looks up at him, trustingly. The angel is much taller than him. Tobiolo holds a large fish and his dog scampers on the path.

In The Two Faces of Love, by Titian, there is amor sacro and amor profano. I feel it’s a shame to divide them like that. Amor sacro is fully clad and has her head turned away. She does not look like someone who would be easy to get to know. She looks a little aloof. Amor profano on the other hand, is wearing almost nothing, just a drape over her hips – she looks towards, she looks more inviting, she looks – ready for encounter and there is only one way you feel, you could encounter her. One time of night, or evening, one mood, and one response. Can you meet that beauty, can you look her in the eyes?  She is not so much a suppliant, as a sign. Unmistakeable as a blue sky. Or a rising tide.



Titian's Sacred and Profane Love: from Wikimedia commons


Between them, in a kind of earth-filled container, a small, winged figure is examining what’s inside it. It could be earth, it could be a pile of dark leaves, it's really not possible to say what he's looking around in. I don't know if it’s Eros, looking for some sign or clue or uninterested in either of the two women and intent on uncovering his own buried treasures. Or maybe he's a flustered minor cherub, given a directive by Eros, which he let fall and is looking for – or one that is simply following some desirable trail, or drawn into the presence of the women, as onlooker or guardian.  

You see them in many of the paintings. Seeming-detached, with no clear role.  Yet drawn too, like understudies learning by watching and listening, content simply to be there.

In another, where Venere ties a scarf round the eyes of Eros, she looks almost dreamily, in another direction. Another winged cherub is at her back, chin resting on her shoulder, like a child content to be around adults, but without understanding of what is going on. Drawn in by the energy. Two other women come towards Venere, from the right of the picture – one holds a bow, the other, the quiver full of arrows. They are involved, they have their parts to play. Yet it’s the blindfolded one, who has his back to us, who will make the action that will result in consequences. Up to that point, everything is well-prepared, appointed. The roles are scripted and the words are worn as carefully as clothes. But once the arrow has been loosed, nothing can be certain, or foretold.



Titian's Venus Blindfolding Cupid: from wikimedia commons

Well, that’s always how it is, isn't it? Once love and desire come in, we are no longer in control. Which is just as well, for that's where life comes in.  Possibilities, consequences and unravelling. Breaches in the wall. Rips in the fabric and gaps in the heart.

Walking through train stations and airports yesterday, I thought how much of life has to do with parting – with meeting and with parting. When there is movement, there is meeting and parting and meeting again. There are endless scenes of separation. Movement involves this, it is inevitable. But the wonder of it is that it makes meetings possible and it makes moments possible – whether they last for seconds of time, or days or weeks, moments of linking with the connectedness of things, they are made possible through movement.

Now, of course, will also become memory, even while, in this moment, it is background. The chirping of a caged bird, on a nearby balcony. The swaying of the plastic strips separating the living room from the balcony. The movement of fresh, damp air from outside, brushing past my skin.

I think of other balconies, on almost the same latitude as here, but not much, only a little, for I do not want to focus on a sense of loss. I am after all working on a landfill operation, shoring up the crater in my heart.

It began to rain, when we came out of the Galleria Borghese. First of all the thunder was distant, then it came closer, carrying torrents of rain in its wake. We sheltered in a narrow doorway. In some streets, the water was several inches deep and reached half way up the wheels of parked cars. 
I thought you said it wasn't going to rain today, said P.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

2016 - Books that visit UK, Romania, France, Ukraine, Italy, Belgium, Albania & Bosnia



It's hard to choose among many books I've read in 2016 I'd like to write about, but here's just a few of my favourites, most, but not all, published this year.

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Lucy Ribchester's The Amber Shadows (published 2016). Sometimes the way you come across books are stories in themselves. When I saw the cover of this one I felt immediately drawn to it. Font, colours and design are very important to me. I don't believe in the old adage 'don't judge a book by its cover' or rather I'd change it to 'go by your feelings when it comes to a book cover.' I hardly ever buy full-price new books (I borrow from the library, rummage in charity shops and am given books to review) but the cover and the subject matter were making a strong case to undermine my resistance. Then one day I came across a copy in a charity shop and snapped it up. It takes place at Bletchley Park during WWII and it is truly a nail-bitingly tense thriller. But more than that, for its descriptions of states of mind are so perceptive. Along with the main protagonist, Honey Deschamps, you flip from one way of seeing and assessing what is going on (particularly when it comes to Felix), to its opposite. It keeps you doubting and questioning throughout and the ending was quite unexpected, in a way I thoroughly approved of, as it seemed to be leading to a more conventional outcome.




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Alison Anderson's The Summer Guest (published 2016)
While The Amber Shadows played out like a monochrome film, in winter penumbra both literal and psychological, Alison Anderson's novel is full of colour, warmth and summer sunlight. The sensuous atmosphere seduces you into sharing the reveries and descriptions written in the journal of an invalid young woman who meets Chekov and his family. The natural world shimmers in heat, and in the developing friendship between them, which might hide a literary secret. Or might be the product of someone's imagination. Or even fiction.  As well as Chekov's nineteenth century Russia, the novel takes place in present day France and London, with a visit to Ukraine. I particularly liked the literary theme, the lyricism, and the quest, which involves not just Chekov but the very nature of what fiction is. Subtle and entrancing writing.




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Ioana Pârvulescu's Life Begins on Friday (2016) is a delightful novel set at the end of the 19th century, in Bucharest. While there is a mysterious stranger who turns up wearing strange clothes and with odd manners, all the characters are memorable, and most of them are warm-hearted. The way of life, particularly in the newspaper office, evokes nostalgia for a kinder less stressful era where people have time to talk to and care for each other. (full review can be read here).

 
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Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography Slipstream is fascinating. It's an account of a life in a particular time and place, taking in WWII and post-war London. It depicts her struggle for recognition as a person and a writer and has an endearing honesty and an inspiring insight, through her experience, into others' characters but mostly, into herself. She has an admirable capacity of being non-judgemental about others and herself, though she depicts without drama what she sees as her own flaws, weaknesses and repeating patterns of relationships that bring initial intense euphoria followed by disappointment and unhappiness. It's like being given a guest ticket to the green room of London's literati, actors, artists, editors and publishers. Stories and character sketches of those she knew, worked with and/or loved, Cecil Day Lewis, Arthur Koestler, Laurie Lee, Romain Gary and Kingsley Amis, just to name a few.


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Joseph Brodsky's Watermark is described as 'part confessional, part meditation on water and stone, past and present'. This is the kind of writing that poets often do so well, for they have insight and perception and a wondrous capacity for description. But  Watermark also tells us about the author himself, his relationship in particular with Venice, and his associations with water and time, his responses to art, architecture,  weather, Greek myths, light etc. He writes  “This is the winter light at its purest …..And the city lingers in it, savouring its touch, the caress of the infinity whence it came. An object, after all, is what makes infinity private.”


Other great books I've read and written about this year, with links to full reviews. 

Volker Weidermann's Summer Before the Dark - in 1936 several émigré writers such as Joseph Roth, Stefan Zweig and Irmgard Keun met up in Ostend. It reads like a novel, lyrical and tender. I think it is a novel, a true novel. (2016)

Biography of Enver Hoxha by Blendi Fevziu (2016)

Whatever the Sea - a brilliant anthology of poetry (2016)

Catherine Czerkawska's The Jewel - novel based on the lives of Robert Burns and his wife, Jean Armour (2016)

Faruk Šehić- Quiet Flows the Una
A poetic meditation on the river Una in Bosnia, this book features in other 'best of 2016' lists and is gathering awards. (2016)

Monday, 5 December 2016

The Last Summer Days in France


This year has seen so many travels and events, I've got way behind in posting them all. This is the last part of the French trip, from June this year. Earlier posts visited Alet-les-Bains
Rennes-le-Chateau, Saint Polycarpe & the Monastery of Cantauque, Monsegur, and Puilaurens and Mirepoix. Which took us back up to Picardie where I left my friends at Amiens train station where, because of the strikes, I had to wait several hours. But that's travel. Often a lot of waiting around. In October, I waited for hours in Newark airport, trying to get on a flight to Chicago. I got the last seat on the last flight out in the evening. You feel so very thankful when you do finally get on. 
It was one of those double decker trains to Rouen and I sat on the top deck, as always. I was so glad to see P* who picked me up at the train station. For some reason it is impossible to pull up in a car in front of the station, but P* did anyway, blocking the traffic behind, and then he drove through the town in inimitable fashion, flinging arms and imprecations to the gods, with one or two insults to other drivers, for good measure.


The picturesque old town of Rouen is on the right bank of the Seine, full of gorgeous timber fronted houses. 





But many shops are announcing that they're closing down. A clothes shop, one selling bandes dessinées. Soldes, réductions, plastered across the shop fronts. Tout doit disparaître. Déstockage massif.

Crossing the river, the wide Seine, there's a luxury cruise ship, the Botticelli from Strasbourg, tethered at the side.



And a working boat, with its stained metal cover and peeling red paint at one end, moves slowly under the pont Jeanne d'Arc. The Seine has half covered one of the quais, but the headline in the local paper says plus de peur que du mal. More fear of flooding here, than any actual problems.



Market at Saint Sever


 On la rive gauche you come to the colourful quarter of Saint Sever. In front of the church there's an open area, then two streets of small shops selling fruit and vegetables, shoes and clothes – bright, colourful flowing dresses and scarves, printed cotton trousers, in swirling paisley patterns. There are benches under shady trees, where old men sit and watch the passing people, and a couple of corner cafés where people sit outside drinking beers or coffees in the thick sunlight of late afternoon. To one side of the church is the shopping centre, also called Saint Sever, its modern glass front set back at a distance from the church, so that sunlight splashes the forecourt.
 

Outside the grocer's shop, fruit and vegetables are piled on small carts. Oranges in one, melons in another, nectarines in a third. The carts have big wheels, and are painted red. 

 

This is Rouen's quarter of colour. A dark-skinned young man stops me and says something about a sports centre, gesturing to a building behind him, which looks empty. But I say no thanks. Vous ne vous intéressez pas au sport? Non, I say.

This area has a feeling of life spilling out into the streets, and parading itself there. Boundaries between commerce, coffee and conversation, between pavement and shop, between sunlight, laughter and the dreamy silence of people sitting or strolling past, between work and leisure, between day and evening, are all blurred.


*
Departure
Before getting on the bus at the quai du havre in Rouen (this bus will take me to Paris where I will change to get another one to London) there's a couple of women waiting, with several bags. But you're only allowed one per person, says the driver. One of the women says – that person doesn't have a bag, that one too – no bag. My extra bags can be theirs. Les choses ne s'arrangent pas comme ça says the driver in the tone of voice that corresponds to a shrug-level, a little weary, with an 'end of conversation' movement, as he turns back to the bus.

The woman turns to the other, luggage-less passengers, to enlist their help. They agree to adopt a piece of her luggage. The driver says vous pensez qu'on peut faire ça à l’aéroport? (clearly the answer is no.) He said they'd have to pay a supplement. He's then on the phone. But when the door is opened and people put their cases into the luggage compartment, the women put in all their cases, newly reassigned to different passengers.
The driver's on the phone again, comes and goes, glances at people's tickets or phones, nods, allez-y he says to me and I'm relieved for I have 2 bags! He walks off again, talks into the phone, then comes back when it suits him. He is after all a French worker, employee maybe but still sovereign in his own territory, his own sphere of influence, management and expertise.

Every arrival of every bus or train, every time I succeed in getting on a vehicle is like an event of the greatest good fortune. I really have found the right place, right bus, and despite having two bags they will still let me board. So many reasons for thankfulness, they accumulate, follow each other, like waves on a beach, a succession of delicacies, over and over one after another, a folding of days, piled like linen in skies of pale blue. Linen days in petal-flecked skies.
*
There are these moments in travel when time's fabric eases just a little and we're no longer a beached island of self looking out on a world – whether distant or intimate, remote or thick and warm, we're always looking it seems, for drawbridges over the gaps between fireside and horses' hoof-prints in the dust, between candle light and the sound of metal horse shoes hitting stone.






Moments when there is only this, and it's not so much missing the rest, but the rest has been loved into silence, 'the rest' has dropped to its knees, surrendered its solitude, and become one with the only. Don't stand outside of it. 'The rest' has walked in and been welcomed. In the hazy warm sunshine, in the bus park at Porte Maillot, Paris, eating quiche aux épinards et saumon, there it is, when time loosens its laces forgets its earth-shaking agendas, and you – grateful for this – forget who you are. What bliss to lose the sensation of self, the Separator, and return to the source and the oneness – like the sun, like the ocean.