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El Hammam

In Presentation on April 10, 2014 at 8:58 am

El Hammam

The feathery touch of the late sun against worn sandstone blocks, almost physical, like a warm breath.

In a plazuela to the side of the Iglesia San Dionisio, overlooked by a virgen in ceramics, K’s glass of water casting a long shadow and splitting the light into a colour spectrum on the arm of her chair.

The wrought iron doorway of the meson, swung open, and the waitress’ white shirt that catches the sun as she stands there.

To the left of the door, a window covered in iron lattice and behind that, glass panes framed by dark wood.

All of it set into the heavy blocks and all of it softy brilliant in the slanted sun, dappled in the shadows of the orange trees as the last light shines like time itself, animating everything.

Our table, which I thought messy at first and almost avoided till I saw that the others were the same, in fact strewn with fragile white stamen, fallen from the orange blossom overhead. The air sweet and heady with its perfume.

Hello again, Jerez.

The little plazuela is three-sided, opening up onto the larger Plaza de la Asunción with its weather-beaten but wonderful old cabildo More

Las Rutas

In Plenary, Production on April 4, 2014 at 9:30 am

Las Rutas

Until the Arabs came, this was the end of the world. Everything to the west was monsters and mystery; everything to the south was sultry, secretive and uncivilised. To the Syrians and their Berber hordes it became a new frontier, and a potential route to the domination of Europe, but until that moment, for the people they were about to conquer, it was the edge of the known. For some it still is of course – Europeans are in plentiful supply who would willingly go no further.

Sitting on a bus and looking at the back of someone’s head can be a bracing business; we never see the back of our own heads and it’s probably just as well – this evening’s guy has hair cropped short with salt and pepper flecks and a line of imperfections along the rim of his ear (spots or old wounds of some sort) that he continually rubs and picks at. He has a way of sneezing that makes me wince even though he’s doing it in the opposite direction: a series of near silent convulsions after which he checks his hands, his jacket and the window for mucous. My hand’s been resting on the miserly ledge at the bottom of my window and just behind his seat; I pull it back a little and breath as shallowly as I can, impatient to get off and suddenly conscious that a blemish at the back of my own ear may be disgusting someone at this very moment, grey hairs involuntarily counted, greasy collar disapproved of. More

La Intervención

In Presentation, Production on March 14, 2014 at 8:47 am

La Intervencion

Very few of you, I imagine, will have enjoyed the depth of understanding, clarity of judgement or richness of insight that K and I have been enjoying recently with regard to the questions and quandaries of global geopolitics.  Perhaps as few as none of you will have been able to appreciate, as we have, the fine balances and convolutions, the real dilemmas and delicate considerations that George W Bush, for example, along with his now legendary team of peace enthusiasts – Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell – will have had to grapple with in their relentless pursuit of justice in the Middle East.

The precision that will have had to accompany Bill Clinton’s more famous compassion as he weighed up the countless (and often contradictory) criteria for going into, or not going into, or going into and then pulling out of, a Kosovo descending into deadly chaos. The teetering structures and the slip-slide systems that threaten constantly to tumble on the turn of a card.

A card in a house of cards. The often split-second timing with which the great players must make their calls and live with the consequences: Franklin D Roosevelt, the Federal Reserve and the war in Europe, Saddam Hussein and his attempted liberation of Kuwait, Margaret Thatcher’s critical response to the Falkland crisis, without which the world would be so very different today – what all of these leaders had in common of course was an unwavering regard for the well-being of the people their decisions affected. More

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