Archive of ‘Blog’ category

Books that Made Britain – BBC TV Program + My Poems

Books that Made Britain is a new BBC TV series that premiered on Sunday afternoon, 16th October. It featured Sussex writers from the present day (eg Kate Mosse) and the past (poet Hilaire Belloc) plus a new writing project, ‘A South Downs Alphabet’ in which I am participating. In the 1939 celebrated writer Eleanor Farjeon created ‘A Sussex Alphabet’ – a series of poems, each one celebrating some aspect of Sussex, literally from A to Z. The South Downs National Park Authority and The Write House (an independent group of local historians and writers) joined forces to produce the new version – reprinting Farjeon’s with it. (more…)

SUNDAY IN THE PARK – Beijing’s Jingshan

It’s Sunday morning in Beijing’s Jingshan Park, just minutes away from the Forbidden City where the stern face of Chairman Mao looks down on passersby. But here it’s all smiles. Why? Because this is where the Chinese go to have fun.

Looking round, we seem to be the only Western tourists. But no one seems to mind or even notice our presence. Youngsters are playing a game we’ve never seen before – like badminton but using their feet. With well-placed kicks, they keep the flower-like shuttlecock off the ground, passing it back and forth. Others are skipping rope but with a big difference: the rope is at least 8 metres long with half a dozen youths jumping simultaneously. One misstep results in a tangle of legs as the entire formation collapses. This happens several times as we watch, causing the young skippers to double over in laughter. Nearby, several women are twirling long streamers of multi-coloured ribbon. Like perpetual motion machines, they carve out figures of eight in the air. The colours flow and blend as in an optical illusion. Minutes pass. We stand still, mesmerised. (more…)

Kerala, India

Have you ever been to Paradise? Well, I have and it’s called Kerala.

Statuesque herons silhouetted against lush green rice paddies. Elegant coconut palms leaning languorously towards the water’s edge. Here the smiling locals move slowly and gracefully in the noon-day heat. The contrast after busy, throbbing, dusty Delhi is staggering.

We have boarded a traditional houseboat or kettuvallam for a 24-hour trip in the Kerala Backwaters – 1500 kilometres of canals, fed by 38 rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea. The houseboat is constructed of wooden planks held together by coconut fibre ropes, using no nails. The roof covering is made from bamboo poles and palm leaves. The exterior of the boat, which is painted with cashew nut oil, glistens in the sun. (more…)

Mothers and Daughters: The Legacy of Love

My mother was my best friend. She died 41 years ago but left me a lasting legacy of love. It’s a legacy that she got from her mother…and that I’ve given to my daughter. Four generations of mother – daughter love. How special is that!

I’d like to tell you about it. (more…)

Spike Milligan and me

As a twenty-something, I came to England from the U.S., hoping to get a job with a work permit. One night an English friend took me to see Spike’s one-man show at the Mermaid. I hadn’t a clue who he was but went along. My friend laughed uproariously during the entire show but as I was a fairly new arrival to these shores, I’m ashamed to admit that most of the jokes went over my head.

My friend then dragged me backstage so he could say hello to one of the crew. There I spotted Spike, all alone, plucking out ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ on a guitar. Naturally, I started to sing it. ‘Oh, you like jazz,’ he said, suddenly noticing me. ‘Maybe we could go out some time.’ (more…)

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