156 – Just being There

 

Lorenzo picked a red plastic tricycle wheel off the cushion and lowered his not inconsiderable frame into the armchair nearest the fire.  He’s a man of few words;  he settled himself down, and gazed around.  His wife, their seven children, half a dozen of the children’s partners, eleven grandchildren, and a couple of young boyfriends of the teenage granddaughters, plus a random cousin or three, were variously clambering on the backs of the sofas, curling their hair in the bathroom, stirring huge pots on the stove, wiping down plastic chairs, and counting out 32 sets of cutlery. Continue reading

155 – Christmas in Bethlehem

Christmas in Palestine.  It’s something that calls to many people, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, or even agnostic.  Birthplace of the alphabet, of Judaism, and of Christianity.  With a million years of human settlement, it was one of the earliest places in the world to see organised human habitation and agricultural development.  Continue reading

151 – Spanish Portraits

“We’re just the same, you and me” said A.  I take it as a compliment, happily glossing over her thirty additional years on the planet.  She has the most piercing look, she’d have been a great interrogator.  Instead she is a campesina, a countrywoman.  Timeless.  Sturdy.  Hard hands.  Sitting on a stool she scoops handfuls of almonds into her apron, and shells them on a tree-trunk in front of her with a small hammer.  Continue reading

150 – Sábado Night’s Alright

I’ll never forget the moment.  It changed forever the way I looked at art.  Madrid, May 2011.  The square, Puerta del Sol, was filling with makeshift tents as “Los Indignados” occupied the centre of Madrid.  Coming in on the metro from my college accommodation 150-indignados2with a Spanish family, I got off one stop early each day to walk through the square, deliver donations of water, milk or juice to the well-organised communal kitchen area.  I tried to understand the posters, the protests, and the petitions, before heading to my morning classes at the language school a couple of blocks away. Continue reading