MIGRANTS


Laz MU

We sailed from  Muhii to Cloijo then on to Iglan Porto, picking up what was left of the  Lete people. They were overjoyed to see us. Heroic survivors, they all had stories  to tell – tales of betrayal, lies, theft, promises, brutality, suffering….how they had managed to avoid/outwit the rogue soldiers  left behind from last year’s failed rebellion….  how some of the soldiers were  mere children but children with guns…how it was their own people who had robbed and betrayed them….how once the traffickers had your money that was it as far as they were concerned.
One of the Lete people, in overalls and tennis shoes, tall, well-spoken,  said she was blind, and to take them to Iglan Maché she had hired a guide who had abandoned them as soon as they left Trasmont.  It had taken  her  and her son a year to get as  far as this.

And cost her all the money she had, no doubt. And you’re not there yet, lady, I thought. Not by a long chalk.
” We’ll soon be there, ” I told her.
She was accompanied by a small boy, ten? eleven? who held her hand in both of his and looked fiercely up at me whenever I spoke. Who was looking after who it was difficult to say.
” We’ll be in Mervidia in a couple of days, ” I told her.
” I have some money, ” she said brightly, producing from her overalls for my inspection a thick wad of notes.
The old currency.

” Take it, ” she insisted, almost pleading.

I closed her hand over her valueless money.  “What’s your name?” I asked the boy who turned away from me and pressed himself against his mother’s legs.
” Take it, ” she insisted. ” If  it’s not enough, tell me. I have more. ”
” Put it away, ” I said quietly, aware we were being watched. They all put their faith in money, these people.  Money was their rock. With money you could escape to freedom. With money you could bribe the soldiers, guards, inspectors, drivers, police. With money there was nothing you couldn’t do. Without it  you were at the mercy of  the evil people who wished you harm. That was the way their thinking went.

The final crossing from Iglan Potro to Mervidia was the tricky part – if the pirates didn’t sneak up on you then the weather would. Luckily it seemed the pirates had other fish to fry and the black storm clouds hovering over Muhii  finally made up their mind to deprive us of their company for a bit and vanished  South. Blown off the map. Our map anyway. But there is always something new, something unexpected to grapple with on that particular crossing either in the treacherous, turquoise waters of Iglan Potro  or the deceptive cerulean blues around  Mervidia. When the strong eastward current rushes through the Mervidian gap and encounters an opposing east wind, this has the effect of building up  monster waves.

The wave that got us wasn’t 100 ft. tall but it was tall enough, tall enough and steep enough and fast enough. Suddenly from nowhere we were confronted by this  roaring glistening wall of green water.
Nothing  I could do except shout warnings just before it hit us, shout out orders that were immediately drowned in the water’s roar.
Down the boat went at first into a deep deep trough that preceded the wave then everything went quiet and we were being lifted up then just as quickly thrown back down, such a long long way down….. 

The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the startled face of the little boy close to mine. As soon as I opened my eyes he was gone. I sat up. He was standing close to his mother who was facing out to sea although being blind it wouldn’t matter in which direction she was facing. He was tugging at her hand and saying something to her but she didn’t move.There were others strung out along the beach but not too many, not more than half the number who had set out with us from Iglan Porto.

After a bit I got to my feet. No broken bones. No  cuts.  No bruises. Even to be still alive was a miracle.
I walked slowly along the beach to the woman and child. ” Are you all right?” I asked them.
The little boy looked up at me then pressed his face against his mother’s legs. Without shifting her sightless gaze from the sea, she gently held him against her and said dully, “It’s all right.  I have some money.”

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Lanzarote


laz tyw

I went to Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique’s volcanic island, for a couple of weeks – interesting places, interesting faces: laz vgt

This guy in Arrecife for starters, very relaxed, leaning nonchalantly against a white wall rubbed out by the heat, dressed and sandalled for coolness and comfort,  listening not looking, focused  on his own cyberworld;

and this woman, man, baby, not so relaxed, tense lanz pp0   he’s an artist (the two cruciform paint brushes in the jar), vivid clothes (compared to her and the baby’s pastel colours), growing a beard or perhaps just unshaven, seated in a slumped sort of way, looking straight ahead(thinking, moody, angry), not looking at his wife  or his baby, hidden but not hiding behind his sunglasses, ignoring them both, aggrieved while she is patiently waiting for some  sort of reply/response, firmly protectively grasping her/his baby, leaning slightly away from him, not angry, not apprehensive, a kind, gently, long-suffering face, Madonnaish and the half-empty (half-full) glasses of beer and why is she standing, he sitting and who/what is the baby looking at….. has there been a quarrel, has she just left the table or has she just arrived on the scene?…We’ll never know. and this little Spanish girl lanz v2   I was a bit apprehensive about photographing her but what was she carrying in her hands, was she running from or to someone or just burning off excess energy? Spanish kids are left to their own devices in public but seldom seem to create problems for their laid-back parents…

  Lan 6 picOn the beach at Famara, grandfather and grandson see the sea in different ways – the grandfather trying to remember something from the past that the relentless waves bring to his mind, the grandson focused on the immediate present de e

Naebdy bides der noo


 

haunted house Shetland crop

 

Na, nae noo

nae fiddly Aladdin lamps
tae magic awa da darkness;

Nae driftwiddy fire 
tae shoot oot o ilka lum
up intae da velvet-black, spairk-spangled sky
inna flickery, aurora shoor
da cauld
an da damp

an nae bible-black, knapdarlicht kye
tae wrap lang pink tongues
roon skooshy clumps
o sappy green gerss
tae pu an munch an pu an munch
an munch
an pu.

Nae bonny, bouncey bairns noo
tae skip barefitted,
skweelfree,
slaphappy as der day wis lang

ower endless barricap-dotted fields
doon tae and intae
da fish-flashin, selkie-skulkin, boat-bobbin sea.

Na, nae noo,
nae noo.

Life is……


Like an unassembled pack
of Ikea furniture
(but lacking the instruction manual)
life lies ahead of them

Ultava 001

Will he….?
 Will she….?
 Will they…?

Copy of supercouple

So many questions
so many unanswered questions

* * * * * * * * * *

(Yes, he did, establishing his  own chartered accountancy business in Richmond.
No, she didn’t, worked for Bottega Veneta in Milan  instead
Yes, they got married,  but not to each other.)

Exotic Love


Gthes 6

Since my wife’s return from India, my life has been changed utterly. Even our conversations are totally different. When I say ” How are you this morning? ” Lydia laughs and says,” WHY are you this morning?”

Then there is the chanting and dancing bit. She brought a CD  back with her and seated in what she tells me is the lotus position she chants along with it. The same notes/words over and over – Ka – Ri – Na – Ka – Ri – Na – Ka – Ri – Na – Ka – Ri – Na – Ka Ri – Na – Ka – Ri …..  I occasionally chant along with her so that she doesn’t feel I am being a negative presence although, unlike her, I feel pretty self-conscious about it all. What if one of my clients happens to peek in the window?

Then there is her dance routine. She starts by shaking herself all over and snuffling through her nose then her chanting becomes louder, she leaps about from foot to foot then throwing her arms into the air jumps and lands with a jarring thud on her heels. The heels, she tells me, are the font of sexuality. Then she whirls around and screams and shouts. This, she says, releases and drives out all her false selves, her bad spirits.

The one time I tried to join in, two policemen alerted by neighbours came to the door and refused to go till they saw for themselves that she was alive and unharmed and heard her rather too full explanation of what had been happening. I have a feeling they could hardly wait till they got back to the station to share the joke with the lads.

Of course we’re different


Last month, downtown  Takoradi,  I  got  talking to a writer guy from Mozambique  and he said:bright

”  Of course we’re different. The way we move our hands. The way we walk, run, sit. The way we smile. The lilt of our speech. The way we sing. The timbre of our voices. The way we dance,  greet each other, laugh. The way we sit together. The way we dress.  Our hair.  Our teeth. What we talk about… Of course we’re different – not better, not worse, just different “

.......

 This morning, home again, on the morning bus to the town centre,  I thought about what he had said.

MY SNOB LIST


bhpaint

I automatically downgrade anyone who says ‘between you and I’ – for some reason that is a grammatical error up with which I am unable to put: and anyone who uses the word ‘posh’; and anyone in a restaurant/cafe/plane/bus who speaks  so loudly that you can’t escape his/her conversation to make your own; and bars/pubs which as soon as they open switch on muzak in the belief that human nature abhors a vacuum; and people who use a knife not to aid their eating but to make that scraping noise on the plate;  and passengers  who put their feet up on the seat opposite; and people who laugh loudly, especially in eating places (” the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind “);  and people who laboriously tell you something boring then say  “but having said that” and go on  to give you at length the other side of the story;  and people who say ‘actually’ and ‘basically’;  and  obese people; and cyclists on pavements;  and people who say things like  ” being given a medal was literally the icing on the cake ” ; and presenters like Clarkson and Oliver and Robinson who with such limited talents are so ubiquitous; and