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Showing posts from February, 2010

'Another Day of Life' by Ryszard Kapuśiński

It was by chance that I found Ryszard Kapuśiński when looking through Amazon. With football’s African Cup of Nations (CAN) being in Angola, I was intrigued to find out more about the history of the country, especially in light of the Togolese football team being ambushed – my only previous interaction with anything Angolan was a Beyoncé wannabe, rapping in Portugese, on Nigerian TV being broadcast in Uganda.
I’ll spare you all of the details of the conflict itself, but understand that it was set against the backdrop of the cold war with three different rebel groups, the MPLA, the FNLA and UNITA, all vying to capture the capital, Luanda, by the time the Portugese officially withdrew on midnight of November 11th 1975.
Kapuśiński starts this short text from his hotel in Luanda and it is his focus on how everyday life is affected by the conflict that makes the text endearing. He describes how, in the absence of TV or radio, he uses the ships moored in the bay to tell him the likelihood of a…

Welcome to Cape Town

Those inventive little rascals on my childhood estate in Warwick have been trying hard to forge an identity for the area of late. Although part of the Packmore Estate, the area around my parents' house often gets labelled as part of the 'Cape'.
The name relates to the estate built near to a part of the Grand Union Canal in Warwick that resembles the shape of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Well, in an effort to bring a little bit of African exoticism to Warwick, the local gifted and talented students, armed with a tin of blue spray paint have been hard at work. In addition to writing the postcode 'CV34' everywhere, they have sprayed 'Cape Town' on the Packmore side of the Priory Park tunnel.
I look forward to July's Warwick Folk Festival perhaps having more of an African influence this year; Ladysmith Black Mambazo could do a number or two?

Down and Out at the Victoria and Albert Pub

Station concourses are, to my generation of semi-nomadic Londoners, an integral part of the fabric of life. We don’t necessarily have cars in London, we have family outside of London and we still pop home regularly to see our mates and families – again, outside of London. We also most likely live in shared houses, listen to iPods and drink and have sex too much.
We are at an inter-stage between actually having settled into an ‘adult life’ and lingering in a ‘student life’. I can check one thing off the list – having found the ideal woman – but the house and car will have to wait.
Back to the station concourses: I seem to spend half of my life on them. When caught at a station with time to waste and a few quid in the pocket one tends to gravitate towards a bar. I have done this now – as I write I am sat in the majestically named Victoria and Albert at Marylebone Station.
In spite of the fact that this place should be alive with tales of travelling bounding from wall to wall and should…

Watercolour Doodling II: Carbis Bay

This was the second of my doodlings. I actually did this around the end of May and it is an imagined view of St Ives in Cornwall. I had just been there on holiday and the view is one that can be seen from the St Ives Branchline.
The picture is simple and not really a finished article at all and represents me fiddling around with watercolour pencils and trying to blend colours a little bit. I can't remember whether the band of blue at the top is meant to be the sky or whether it was just me trying to find a good sea colour.
I revisited this picture just before painting my imagined view of Saint Lucia and decided to rub-out some of the pencil sketch-lines. Having done this I realised that, although not technically wonderful, the painting wasn't as bad as I had remembered.