Montenegro Lives

The grave of three men: Jobo, Cabo, Baco. They all look alike. Two could be brothers, the third could be the son of one, or a nephew, or a much younger brother. This youngest man (Cabo) died in 1943 at the age of 23. The 23-year-old man of a different family looks thoughtful and resolute. … More Montenegro Lives

Los Ojos

I was taking photos of shadows, cats, bricks and steps in the city of Cuenca in Spain. Everything that I could see right in front of me. It was sunny and mild and even the grafitti seemed to have had a spring clean. I thought I had the old town all to myself, but someone … More Los Ojos

A Lesson with Fitta

Again I begin a post with Fitta Chipeta. Otherwise known as ‘Fitta the Fixer’. When in Malawi, if there’s a glitch with a gadget, Fitta will get F Man to sort it. If you’d like a live chicken, Fitta knows someone who knows someone whose father’s sister’s neigbour can supply you with a bird. If … More A Lesson with Fitta

12th May

A year ago, I wrote that the curators of the Mass Observation Archive were making their annual appeal for our 12th May diaries. Here we are again, twelve long yet quick months later, and the Project is keen to know how we have fared. Its aim remains to collect glimpses of our lives on one … More 12th May

Memories and Daffodils

(A short walk through a Sevenoaks churchyard) Hestor was a wife. She was remembered with love by her husband, after she died in 1802. Her gravestone still stands and her name is still legible, despite the threat of a colony of white spots. Other names are invisible, swept away by the elements. Or have dates … More Memories and Daffodils

Tello y Tazgona

A love story from Andalucía (adapted from Lorenzo Valla’s 15th century version of the Legend of La Peña de los Enamorados). A young man once served as a slave in the house of a Moorish leader in the Kingdom of Granada. The man’s name was Tello, and he was a Christian soldier who had been … More Tello y Tazgona

A Love Story

I didn’t think I was writing a love story. I didn’t think I was writing a sad story. Nor one with uncomfortable truths. I thought I was writing a sunny story set in a Spanish Sierra, and I started with someone very similar to Elena, the Tortilla Maker. A story intended to be life-affirming and … More A Love Story

Pilchards

“Hello … hello? Is that you?” My elderly neighbour is on the line. Her voice carries a chord of concern. “I just don’t know how everyone will cope,” she says, “How long is this going to last, do you think?”  Mary is worried about the coronavirus crisis that is gripping the world. She also needs … More Pilchards