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Showing posts from June, 2011

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Never one to do things in the most logical of orders, I watched the film version of A Single Man , starring Colin Firth as the main protagonist, before I had read the novella. In fact I had no clue about the existence of Christopher Isherwood prior to watching the film. The film was a fantastic piece of cinema so I decided to investigate the novel behind it. A Single Man  is the story of one day in the life of George, a gay Englishman working as a professor in a Los Angeles college. The narrative focuses an intense light on George's movements and actions from the moment he wakes until the end of the day - maybe that should say the end of his days. George is living in a neighbourhood that was once bohemian, but has been slowly populated by homogenous, Stepford-esque suburbanites. They all aspire to have clean lives free from anything 'queer' infringing upon it. To this extent George exists very much on the periphery of this way of life with the character of Mrs Strunk as g

Breaking the Barriers to Girls’ Education in the Developing World

Shakila. A student at Taufiq Islamic Primary School, Uganda. Whenever I have written about time I’ve spent in East Africa, I often talk about the fact that geography plays such a big role in how different my life is compared to someone there. What I hadn’t realised until much more recently is that not only does somebody’s physical location in the world play a massive part in the opportunities available to them, but so does their gender. One question that begs to be asked is: why is it that girls in particular are less likely to get access to education in poorer countries? According to Plan UK , women earn 30-60% of men’s earnings for similar jobs and women are more likely to be in low-paid employment, yet an extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s eventual future wage by 15-25%. Many don't even have the opportunity to get this far. There are obvious cultural and economic pressures dictating that boys, as historical breadwinners, should be pushed to the fore and afforde

Cotonou Club by Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

Album artwork. I often dream and get ideas into my head about some great voyage into the unknown that I wish to take. I have been lucky enough to have had a few chance meetings and brief conversations recently which have already taken root in my mind. With a bit of effort they should definitely come to fruition. So, my most recent dream? Bénin and Ghana, by way of Togo - most likely over a two week period. With thoughts of visiting a project in Bénin firmly planted, I made the effort to indulge in a bit of research related to a West African country that, although looking small on the map, seemingly has an immensely rich cultural heritage. I found a couple of things in my initial efforts: a novella called The Viceroy of Ouidah  by Bruce Chatwin and an album called Cotonou Club  by Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. The former, although a beautifully intriguing novella, was written by a yovo (the Béninois equivalent of mzungu ). I needed something a little more African and the Orche