Saturday, 31 March 2012


When I was in my mid-twenties I lived in London. I loved it. I even came up with a new adjective to describe it - 'londrous'. I didn't mind that my nose blew black snot or that the shopkeepers were grimsters. I remember the wise woman and I use to keep a note on the fridge where we would jot down the freaker-of-the week.  London, being such a gloriously big melting pot, meant you were all but guaranteed some sort of freaker encounter every week. The tube tended to be the nesting ground for most of them and I recall many freaker-infested journeys into work which varied from mildly amusing to downright scary. My favorite freaker was the one who came up to me late one night and said 'Dog! Back to your kennel.'
I loved the pub grub on weekends down by the Thames too: the assortment of condiments: mayonnaise, mint jelly, mustard, brown sauce, red sauce, tartar sauce. I adored the heat of the pavement in  summer when I would walk home along Hyde Park  with my shoes in my hand: the air redolent with curry and ozone. (OK London summers were a bit hit-and-miss but I do have memories of sweltering weeks .) And I loved the free galleries, the markets, riding the route master buses.
So perhaps you are wondering what has brought on this wave of nostalgia and I believe it is the fact that this weekend a bunch of laydees are getting together for a bit of a reunion in Australia. This bunch ( well the ones who could make it) were a large part of the pack I used to hang out with during those giddy London days. Actually I feel a little bit of a liar when I say that. Yes I did hang out with them but I was never a big gang gal. I couldn't deal with the idea of being best friends with everyone. Truth be told I was besotted with the wise woman ( in a purely platonic way) she was my soul mate , my best friend, my gravitational pull. The others made for nice afternoons drinking cider, talking about boys but I was never enmeshed in that group the way the others seemed to be. Which is probably why I am not feeling jealous about the reunion this weekend. I mean it would be nice to be there: to see friends: to not spend my weekend padding around Basel alone yet again but I don't feel a heart wrench.
Actually it is interesting (to me anyway) that nearly all of the members of that gang are now married with children. Some even divorced. I am one of only two anomalies. Was I an anomaly back then too?  Will I remain so ever onwards? Cliche as it is I suspect I am the least happiest of that group right now but then I could be wrong. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. I wonder what I would say to the me back then if I could meet her again now.  I think I would tell her to get matching underwear much earlier. It actually feels good. Ditto the Brazilian. I would tell her about the Sufi poet Hafiz much earlier too. I would tell her that not being a big gang girl was OK. I would tell her to not be so afraid. I would tell her she was going to have a lot of amazing travelling adventures and to be proud of what she did. I would tell her to start writing earlier ( or at least begin sharing.) I would tell her 2011-12 were going to be lousy years but to hang in there. I would tell her hearts can really break. I would tell her not give up hope.
   So I am going to end this post with a toast to all the gals who are meeting in Queensland this weekend. (Heh heh excellent excuse to drink champagne on my tod) I hope they have a beautiful time together and the memories flow as freely as the laughs....and the vino!!!

the gang-o-girls in action this weekend

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Colored Lens

New short story out in The Colored Lens Spring 2012.
Deeply personal. Deeply proud.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mountainy Goodness

Visiting Z
So my dear pal Z came to Switzerland for the weekend so I took her to the mountains for some mountainy goodness. Most of the people on the mountain were there to ski but we were more of the apre-skier types. The weather was glorious and the crisp air was filled with the majestic hush of the mountains (apart from the rather magnificent coke burp I accidentally let rip at an outdoor ski lodge. Any closer to the slopes and it might have caused an avalanche but instead it garnered a lot of 'zum volls' from my neighbours. Dare I say a little respect - such was its boldness and its deep reverberating tones.)  Of course being a laydee I  was deeply embarrassed but nature can catch us by surprise at any time. 
place of coke happenstance

Ah and speaking of nature - how could you not love the view from our hostel window. 

Or the frolicksome snow!!

Or the opportunity for good wine.

Obviously I felt we had to give a little bit back to the mountain folk in the afternoon so I decided to unilaterally help the farmers. 

Which was clearly appreciated by the cows...

and the goats...

Oh and the Easter bunny!!!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Doctor's Orders

A drop of

Gentian - for doubt
White Chestnut - for the mental torture of circular thinking
Star of Bethlehem - for the part within which cannot be consoled
Cherry Plum - for fear
Rock Rosefor finding lost hope
Aspen - for the unknown
Chestnut Bud - for learning lessons

Add some water

And wait.*

* Patting passing dogs may accelerate treatment if applied regularly.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Clockwork Phoenix 2 now an e-book

Just to let you know CP2 which was originally released in paperback form in 2009 is now available in e-book format for your reading pleasure. And you have a plethora of choices.

Weightless Books

How neat is that!!!!

Even neater is the fact that my story "The Fish of Al-Kawthar's Fountain" which is set in Syria is in this book and Syria deserves to have a big light shone on it, however it can right now. Whenever I think of this story I think back to my time in fragrant-rich Damascus and also in Homs. In particular the night I spent on Homs' urban streets with a family at 3 in the morning. Urban streets that are now a war zone but were once a haven for corn-cob munching families and strolling midnight camels. May it soon become a haven once more.  

Monday, 19 March 2012

Grumpy the elf

Hmmm I am tired of people telling me I look tired. It just makes me feel bad... and even more tired. I find I feel particularly tired when I have spend a decent amount of time planning a dynamic conversation lesson and I bring it to class and no one wants to speak. No one wants to give an opinion. And it's not like I am asking them controversial things ( e.g. Why does Switzerland need an army anyway?) I'm asking them about their favorite kind of music, a musician they might like to meet, a song that they love. And they sit there and say I can't think of anything ( or my personal favorite 'I have no fantasy') and yes I look weary and tired and worn out.So I go home feeling spent and without any energy left to write, to paint stones, to swim, even to read. Wah wah wah!  I know I sound grumpy but I'm allowed to be, aren't I? Go on just for a day

Here's to Syria  and better days!!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Time to march

Last night I dreamt I was going to the protest march for Syria. When I arrived everyone was dressed  in khaki except for me. I was wearing a lilac sweater I had recently bought on sale. I was worried they wouldn't let me march with them but they gave me a helmet and let me in. Then we started walking and my heart seized with joy because we came around the corner and I saw Damascus - my beautiful, old friend. We were marching to her. I couldn't believe it. But then as we marched closer I saw more and more spent guns on the ground. Rounds and round of ammunition. Broken Kalashnikovs.   And I realised we weren't going to come out of it alive. But it didn't stop me marching. I still wanted to go on.
Suffice to say I woke up with a mixed heart. Relieved it was a dream but painfully aware that for many people right now when they wake up it is not.
 So off I went to Zurich to do the only thing I could which was to join the protest march for real. I have to say I was possibly the only person there without some blood link to Syria  - although what is a blood link anyway? When I walk through her streets: when I am there my blood rushes like it belongs, like it is in love.  As if ancestrally I know her already- that our history is older than any family tree.
Still I was a little intimidated turning up to the massing crowd but they very quickly thrust a flag in my hand and I knew that I  belonged.
Most of the time before the march I spent watching a family getting ready -  in particular the little boy below. He came with his dad on the same tram as me and they kept smiling at me as they got ready.
Mama, I would like to march!
But I need my paint first.
Now I am ready!!!

You can scooter first big brother.
 I also spoke to a nice fellow from Deraa. Actually  the few people I spoke to all came from Deraa. Some of them didn't know what had happened to their family. Others didn't know when they would go home again. When I asked them what they thought would happen next they shrugged their shoulders. They said they believed that the way would be long.

Then we marched -  men -  women -  children. 

Assad obviously got a bad rap so did Putin and Iran. I waved my flag and I thought of all the people who had been so kind to me whenever I had been in their land. And as I watched the children marching here I thought of the little people Syria has already lost. Honestly I didn't know whether to smile or not when I had my photo taken but the Syrians seemed to beam at the camera given the chance. I suppose there was an odd sort of fellowship from being here in this moment and while they never forgot why  they were there they somehow wanted to celebrate their country too. And celebrate all the humanity that had come out to march for the people who cannot march without risking their lives.

Friday, 16 March 2012

I'llbe there

So I have been back from Istanbul for a little while now. I actually squeezed in a trip to Volendam last weekend to see an old school friend but I'm going to save that festival of cheese for another blog entry. No. Today I want to talk about Syria as I will go on the march in Zurich tomorrow. The march is part of the Global March for Syria event which is taking place around the world this weekend. I am feeling very nervous about turning up there alone for some reason which is strange given I turned up alone in Syria three times.  I think it is an attack of shyness. Aaaargh! Ridiculous! I mean when you think about what it is for and who it is for a little bit of social anxiety would almost be laughable if it were not for how deeply horrific the whole situation is. I know going on a march is a tiny thing to do. I hate how small it is but I am at a loss at how else to help this country except to keep telling anyone and everyone I meet not to forget this country. Not to give up on her. To love her not fear her. And to pray her people will soon find peace and freedom.
 I have attached here a lovely video of Syria made by Ruslan Fedetow. I think it sums up the country beautifully and is what my heart remembers.