Chutzpa, chutspa, chutzpadik – Pronounced KHOOTS-PAH; rattle that kh around with fervour; rhymes with ‘Foot spa’. Do not pronounce the ch as in ‘choo-choo’ or ‘Chippewa’, but as the German ch in Ach! or the Scottish in ‘loch’. Hebrew: ‘insolence’, ‘audacity’. Gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts’; presumption-plus-arrogance such as no other word, and no other language can do justice to.
The Joys of Yiddish By Leo Rosten
On Sunday morning I lead prayers at church. It had been an emotionally charged week in London. I dreaded standing in front of the congregation. Over 70 people had recently died in the Grenfell Tower fire not far from where I live, fires raged in Portugal and the news was still full of recent terror attacks.
I now dread my 7am wake-up with BBC Radio 4.
In May I’d readily volunteered to do prayers, but as my turn drew near, I wondered if I really had it in me. What would I say? How would I create the right balance between silence and words? Continue reading Building Castles in the Sky
“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”
Says Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
My father-in-law is writing his memoirs and I can’t wait to read them!
“How do you remember all the places and names and details?” I asked him.
“You’d be surprised what comes to mind when you start digging around in the past. You open a drawer, look through a photo album, talk to an old friend, read a letter…” he replied.
Now I know what he means. Continue reading Memories
“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Today we said goodbye to you.
You grew up on a farm,
Fashioned clay oxen with mud and thorns for horns,
Shot a catty,
‘Rescued’ baby birds, Continue reading Goodbyes
“It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.”
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
By popular demand, I give you our 12 fellow travellers on our South African #roadtrip:
‘Petrol Man’: outside Bloemfontein:
We took a country road towards the Lesotho mountains. TomTom was not pleased. Petrol Man explained that his car had run out of petrol. In parts of the Free State you get the feeling that you’re driving from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere. So we drove on. Eventually we came to a juncture. There was’t even a tiny pin-prick of a suggestion of a village, but with nothing else to suggest we turned down the dust track. What materialised eventually was a twilight-zone-like-derelict-one-stop-hamlet consisting of a road, 6 dwellings, a couple of people and a petrol station! Continue reading Our short interlude into the lives of 12 walkers
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone,” said Gandalf.
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr. Baggins.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
We were about 60km outside Port Edward when we realised that we might actually be in real danger. Continue reading The Journey, not the Destination: Goats, Wine, Mountains and Mafia #SAroadtrip
The Journey Of The Magi
(written in 1927 by T. S. Eliot)
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Continue reading A Merry and Blessed Christmas, 2016
“I’m busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!”
Dolly Parton in Straight Talk (1992)
When you’ve managed to stay super busy for some months and people around you need your help, family needs you, you travel, learn a language, plan and dream – it can all be hugely rewarding. Probably almost enough to fill another void. Continue reading Asking the difficult questions