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Showing posts from December, 2017

Atay Maghrebi: Skala du Port, Essaouira

As I sat on the highest point of the roof terrace drinking coffee, I scanned around the view: flaking whitewash on all but a handful of buildings, rusting chimneys pumping out benign traces fire of black smoke against the hazy blue canvas and lending the whole town a sea-bleached aspect. 
I decided to take in high tide down by the Skala du Port, a place I had visited the year before.
The Skala du Port is perhaps the most obvious example of the Portuguese colonial history of the town they called Mogador. A castellated fortification, it joins the main wall around the medina, before holding out a protective arm against the Atlantic breakers around the fishing port and the shipbuilders.
From the top of the fortified tower, a mere 10dh to get to, the view looks towards the Île de Mogador and the ocean in one direction, and the medina tightly huddled past the rising smoke of the fish grills by the main square in the other.
Inside the harbour wall, there is a constant hive of activity as fi…

The Wren Boys by Carol Ann Duffy

As an English teacher it is impossible to escape Carol Ann Duffy. A couple of years back, a colleague in my department perhaps to rub this in, perhaps because of the story's link to Ireland, or maybe just seized by the Christmas spirit, bought me one of Duffy’s small seasonal poems, The Wren Boys, beautifully illustrated by Dermot Flynn.
The tale of the poem links to a rural Irish tradition that takes place on St Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas Day, whereby groups of people will dress up and go hunting a wren.
According to the various myths, the wren, or wran, is thought to have betrayed the Saint’s whereabouts to his captors with its song and to have cheated against an eagle in a flying competition.
The writing is wonderfully evocative of a cold, rural Christmastime: The old year, a tear in the eye of time; frost on the blackthorn, the ditches glamorous
with rime; on the inbreath of air,
the long, thoughtful pause before snow. The air is filled “everywhere musky with peat fro…