Very Greek

     “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
     “Business!”cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Temple of Zeus

The elderly Mr SM (Shipping Magnate) ushered us into his substantial office and gestured to the leather sofa. “I give you two minutes,” he held up two fingers and perched his slightly unkempt, rather portly, untucked self on the arm of a chair. “I tell you what to do if you want to work with us,” he began.

“You are shipbrokers?” He studied Hubby’s card. “It is good you visit. What bring you to Greece?” Continue reading Very Greek

Monastic musings

“There was no doubt about it. Sister Evangelina’s action had been brilliant. A masterstroke. To say that a fart cleared the air may seem a contradiction in terms, but life is full of contradictions.”

Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950’s by Jennifer Worth

Monastic mosaicsHubby: Father Zachariah, I’m taking over my father’s business next year and I wonder if you have any advice for me?

Father Zachariah: There were once three monks. One monk rose early every morning and left the cottage to work in the fields. It was back-breaking work. He only returned home as darkness fell, but he provided all the food and income for the household. The second monk was very ill and spent all day in bed, praying. The third monk remained at the cottage to care for his brother. Which one has done a full day’s work, I ask you? Continue reading Monastic musings

Brexit, Frexit, Grexit … and in true African time, Zexit!

“[South Africans] are on friendly terms with time, and the plan of beguiling or killing it does not come into their heads. In fact the more time you can give them, the happier they are, and if you commission a [South African] to hold your horse while you make a visit, you can see by his face that he hopes you will be a long, long time about it. He does not try to pass the time then, but sits down and lives.”

Out of Africa (with a bit of poetic licence) by Karen Blixen

Z-DayBreaking news this morning was that the ANC has officially decided to recall Jacob Zuma. Journalists are calling it Zexit (thanks David Cameron) and Z-Day (thanks WW2).

My poor South Africa, sunny and bright though she is, has been on a rollercoaster ride of drought and water shortages, Finance Minister hiring and firing, Gupta-leaks and Bell Pottinger-Gates, and the most politically volatile currency in the world. Are things finally looking up for SA? Continue reading Brexit, Frexit, Grexit … and in true African time, Zexit!

2018, tell me all your secrets

“If you can look into the seeds of time. And say which grain will grow and which will not; Speak, then, to me.”

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

“I believe we can rule out anything sinister,” said the radiologist. “Only … there is something rather unusual. You have right-sided hemiagenesis of the thyroid.”

I wiped the gel off my neck and sat up. I leaned in closer to the ultrasound screen. Continue reading 2018, tell me all your secrets

A Christmas Tale and a 2017 Calendar

“”Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

Little Women by Louisa M Alcott

Little Women Louisa M AlcottA Christmas past. Muddy roads and rain. I had 3 nieces rather than 4. Dad was still alive. We’d been cooped up inside for too long and the cracks were beginning to show in tantrums and whining.

“Okay, this is what we’re gong to do,” I ventured, placing each niece in seclusion with a sheet of paper and a pen.

“I want each one of you to write a letter to Father Christmas. Tell him if you’ve been good or not, and write him a list of things you’d like for Christmas.”

For a few blissful minutes they took to their task enthusiastically. The adults breathed a sigh of relief and I padded over to the awaiting kettle. Continue reading A Christmas Tale and a 2017 Calendar

Send in the Clowns

“It is useless to describe the astonishing performances of the acrobats and gymnasts. The turning on ladders, poles, balls, barrels, &c., was executed with wonderful precision. But the principal attraction was the exhibition of the Long Noses, a show to which Europe is as yet a stranger. These noses were made of bamboo, and were five, six, and even ten feet long, some straight, others curved, some ribboned, and some having imitation warts upon them. It was upon these appendages, fixed tightly on their real noses, that they performed their gymnastic exercises.”

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

Coated and scarfed, we trooped across the common, crunching leaves under foot. The almost-full moon brightened the autumn sky. Circusy-music drifted towards us on the breeze, promising high-wire tension and hilarity.

Some 35 years ago I’m sure I must have run,  towing one of my parents behind me, across the entire dusty field to the circus entrance, a similar pink ticket stub in my small hand. White horses with plumes, the smell of damp straw, animal cages, waistcoated monkeys and hotdogs – the Boswell Wilkie Circus! Continue reading Send in the Clowns

Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam

Onego Lake Embankment, Petrozavodsk

“For this I weep all my days
and throughout my lifetime grieve
that I swam from my own lands
and came from familiar lands
towards these strange doors
to these foreign gates.”

The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot

The train stopped. The announcer spoke first in Russian then in English. Five minutes, she said. 10:37. I looked out the window. Travellers poured out onto the platform and lit up. Venders met them with trays of smoked fish and wild berries. I watched smokers cough into their berry breakfasts and then rush back onto the train. It jerked back into action, leaving the sleepy hollow of Svir. 10:42. Five minutes exactly. Continue reading Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam