Saturday, 17 September 2016
Monday, 5 September 2016
The Arabic edition of Alexandria: City of Memory
by Michael Haag has been published in Egypt this August by the Supreme Council for Culture along with the National Centre for Translation.
Wednesday, 31 August 2016
|Fitzjohn's Avenue rising to Hampstead.|
|The same scene today.|
The postcard shows a water trough in the foreground for horses about to make the climb. And to the left there is a fountain under a conical roof. Today the trough is gone and the fountain serves as an occasional flower stall.
|A winter's day.|
|To Florrie Sambrook c/o Lady Salt.|
|From Lucy at 3 Fitzjohn's Avenue.|
3 Fitzjjohns Avenue
I am afraid you will think I have quite forgotten your tie pattern, but hope to send it the end of the week, been so very busy.
Goodbye Love to all.
This message on the back of a postcard is almost all we know about Lucy. She is in service at 3 Fitzjohn's Avenue; in what little spare time she has she is working on a pattern borrowed from her friend Florrie who also is in service but far away in Staffordshire. 'Love to all' suggests that Lucy knows not only Florrie but others there. It is tempting to think that they 'all' know each other from Staffordshire, that they all come from there, but as we shall see they probably first knew each other not in Staffordshire but in London.
|Isaac Lewis, diamond merchant and financier.|
At some point before 1916 Lewis sold 3 Fitzjohn's Avenue to August Ries, a banker born in Wurtemberg and a British citizen. Ries was a partner of L Hirsch & Co, a firm that made its money from South African gold mines and British coal mines. Ries and Lewis must have known one another through their business affairs: the London business addresses of Lewis and Ries were the same, Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street.
But I do not know when Lewis sold 3 Fitzjohn's Avenue to Ries. Was it before or after Lucy sent her postcard in 1907? Whatever the date and whether her employer was Lewis or Ries, Lucy was working for an extremely wealthy man with business dealings in South Africa, England and on the Continent.
|c/o Lady Salt|
|Lady Salt at Walton on the Hill|
Then in 1921 August Ries sold 3 Fitzjohn's Avenue to Philip de Laszlo, the society painter who lived there and used it as his studio. De Laszlo was born into humble circumstances in Budapest but his ability as an artist got him a long way, including marrying Lucy Guinness of the banking branch of the Guinness family.
|Philip de Laszlo's self portrait; he married a banker's daughter.|
|De Laszlo's portrait of the then Duchess of York, mother of Queen Elizabeth II.|
|The home of Isaac Lewis, August Ries and Philip de Laszlo.|
A blue plaque identifies the house as that of Philip de Laszlo.
|A blue plaque honouring Philip de Laszlo on 103 Fitzjohn's Avneue.|
Lucy and Florrie are remembered by their postcard.
|The old fountain turned flower stall. Beyond it is the Territorial Army centre and beyond that is the house where Lucy wrote her postcard to Florrie.|
Sunday, 28 August 2016
|A postcard from a friend. Hope the voyage is a long one.|
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)
Book a Greyhound bus to Ithaka now.
Thursday, 25 August 2016
Saturday, 30 July 2016
Thursday, 28 July 2016
|The Taygetus range in spring rising like a wall above Sparta.|
|My first full view of Viros Gorge from the village of Tseria near Kardamyli whetted|
my appetite for the traverse a year later. Profitis Ilias is in the distance at the
upper left of the photograph.
That fascination led to a desire - and it was a desire, something like a lust and a need - to traverse the Taygetus range from east to west, from Sparta down into Outer Mani.
|My copy of Mani.|
|Patrick Leigh Fermor's house outside Kardamyli.|
Recently at the Durrell conference at Rethymnon I met Chris White who is an expert in Leigh Fermor's exploits in Crete and has tracked down his routes and hideouts from the time when he and the resistance kidnapped the German commandant General Kreipe. I asked Chris about Paddy's traverse of the Taygetus and he agreed that his description is vague, most probably because he never did it, instead that he made several shorter explorations and then linked them up in his book to look like a traverse.
Which confirms what I began to suspect at the time. After poring over maps looking for Paddy's possible route I eventually gave up and decided that the only thing to do was to keep it simple and direct. I would climb Profitis Ilias from the Sparta side and then come down into Outer Mani along the Viros Gorge with spills imto Kardamyli and the Messenian Gulf.
|Wending my way up Profitis Ilias.|
Having shown Neville the eastern approach and the western flank of Taygetus and had a good look at the peak of Profitis Ilias and the Viros Gorge, he announced himself game and we set off, friends driving us back to the Sparta side. If they did not see us again soon, they were to do something, though none of us knew what.
|Michael atop Profitis Ilias.|
|Neville looking for a way down. There is no way down except the gorge.|
|Neville after navigating the scree slope.|
|In the gorge, climbing over boulders.|
|The long dry descent.|
|We finally reach the tree line but still no water.|
|Two days after our traverse of Taygetus, myself and Neville at Old Kardamyli at the mouth of the Viros Gorge, somehow alive and well.|
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Q: What surprised you most along the way of researching Mary Magdalene and writing this book?
A: I suppose what surprised me most was how important the story has been in the course of 2,000 years, its inventions and reinventions, and how much it still matters to us today. That suggests to me Mary Magdalene has a significance, a power, greater than the Gospels tell, greater than the Church. It is the old story of death and love and rebirth. Take that carnally, take it spiritually, take them together as one, but it is the oldest story around.
|The oldest story.|
Saturday, 9 July 2016
|Aphrodite by Clea Badaro.|
|A 2007 photograph of the wrecked studio behind the Villa Ambron where Clea Badaro painted.|
But this new exhibition changes that. The Gulf News writes:
The visual narrative continues with a selection of portraits and landscapes from different decades and different parts of the Arab world that indicate how quickly the artists moved to a more accurate depiction of their own culture and surroundings. The eclectic collection includes works that are significant in the personal journeys of the artists or in the art history of this region, such as an early portrait by Syrian artist Marwan Kassab Bachi, painted soon after he moved to Germany, and depictions of the changing urban and rural landscapes by masters such as George Sabbagh, Saliba Douaihy, Yousef Kamel and European Egyptian artist Clea Badaro.
|Clea Badaro, centre, with other Alexandrian artists.|
Wednesday, 6 July 2016
|The Venetian Harbour at Rethymnon.|
|A street through the old town.|
|The interior courtyard of a Veneitan house.|
|In the heat of the day.|
|A Ventian fountain abutted by an Ottoman vault.|
|Anna Lillios at the end of conference dinner.|
Among the people I met up with again at Rethymnon was Ian MacNiven, who edited The Durrell-Miller Letters which I co-published with Faber and Faber in 1988.
|Ian MacNiven with his wife Peggy Fox of New Directions, New York. The speaker is Linda Rashidi, professor of linguistics at Mansfield University, the outgoing president of the International Lawrence Durrell Society.|
|My hardback copy of The Durrell-Miller Letters. I found the cover photograph in a shoebox at Durrell's house in Sommieres.|
|Eve Durrell thought she ought to add herself to the correspondence with this inscription in my paperback copy.|
|A night street in the old Venetian quarter of Rethymnon.|
|Booking now for a world cruise.|
A thoughtful friend has drawn my attention to the Second Coming of Noah's Ark. Possibly the last chance to get on board.
The Ark is a faithful reconstruction of Noah's original as detailed in the Bible, Genesis 6-9.
Unlike the Ark of Genesis which came aground on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey - slap in the middle of all that Middle Eastern danger and turmoil so distressing to tourists and the faithful - this Ark is conveniently located in Kentucky. And to save yourself from the wrath of God all you need is $40. Pets are welcome.
|Prepare to believe.|
For more information about the End of the World and how to avoid going under, click here.
|The Creation Museum is not far from the Ark. Save and be saved with a combined ticket.|