On the way to The Wall, the surviving section of the perimeter wall that had once enclosed the Second Temple, the Herodian temple, built on land purchased by King David from the Jebusites, a majestic structure standing at the apex of Jerusalem, visible for miles, luminous and awe inspiring, later destroyed by the Romans, one must pass through the Souq, a dark, tightly packed marketplace of shops selling spices, clothes, jewelry, art and food.
The winding Souq is bisected by a descending alleyway of stone steps.
The vendors, all men, open their shops at about ten a.m. They sweep the floors and groom and adjust their wares. Once done, they sit amidst their bounty. They speak a clicking, melodious Arabic.
I pass thick strapped leather sandals on low shelves. Glossy upright luggage stand sentry at the entry to their stores. Fabrics hang from overhead racks like tapestries. Silver candelabras reflect the overhead lights.
Young men carrying chained circular metallic trays balancing one or two small glasses of steaming brown liquid rush up the alley. They enter the shops and serve the shopkeepers.
"Stand aside, please!"
Long frocked men with tall staffs and red hats march by.
"Syrians!" I hear someone say.
The last man in the procession, ruddy cheeked and sable haired, seems to smile.
"I wonder if the Syrians let their priests marry," I think.
Down, down, the pitted, smooth stones I go.
I see determined parents carefully lifting strollers down the steps. The fathers haul the front of the carriers, the mothers steer from the back. I see grandmothers firmly clasping the arm of their grandchild, gingerly make their way.
All are headed to The Wall.
I follow a French and Hebrew speaking tour group. I stand to the rear and listen to the guide. To my surprise, I find myself able to understand his comments. My college French and grade school Hebrew have come tumbling back.
As the guide starts to move on, I ask "Pardonnez-moi, monsieur, ou se trouve Le Wall?
He answers in English.
"How did you know that I was an American?" I ask.
I see a group of people dressed in identical lavender and white patterned fabric. The men wear loose shirts outside their trousers, the women, dresses and turbans.
Overcome by curiosity, I ask one of the women, "Excuse me, where are you from?"
"Nigeria," she said, smiling.
"Nigeria! Thank you. Have a great day!"
Three schoolgirls in long skirts, white tights and long sleeves rush up and ask her if they cam take her picture.
"Nigeria," I tell the girls, over my shoulder.
An Israeli checkpoint appears.
A metal detector.
An X-ray machine.
Two soldiers man the devices.
One is tall and white haired.
"Russian? Ukrainian?" I think.
The other, slender faced and fine featured is African.
"Ethiopian?" I wonder.
They speak to each other in Hebrew.
We stand in line.
The people around me speak Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese.
Yolanda Christian is a British writer and visual artist. Born in Liverpool, Yolanda Christian graduated with a first class honors degree in Fine Art, and followed this up with postgraduate printmaking at The Slade School of Art, London and working as visiting Lecturer at various art colleges, including Cardiff and Newport in Wales. In 1986, she travelled across China to research her family tree, resulting in a travelling solo exhibition: Taking Roots. Around this period of time, she also had her work purchased by museum collectors such as The Victoria & Albert Museum, while lecturing and teaching. From the 90s onwards, she was commissioned to write in art magazines, and began to freelance within publication teams as digital designer, proof reader, copy editor, sub editor, and editorial executive. Her novel "Eye of an Artist" is about a brilliant but naive artist who goes to Portuguese Macau in search of roots. Yolanda is the organizer and editor of "52: loves" an international collection of short stories and poems which takes an unusual look at Love.
Nalini: What does it mean to be a writer to you? Is it easier or more difficult as a woman to write?
Yolanda: Life's journey led me to freelance within publication teams, and then I discovered by accident that I was good at writing about art and people. In 2005, I experienced a trauma, and the personal injury that followed meant that I decided to write more and concentrate on "that novel". In fact, I'm finally where I want to be. I'm a lot happier writing than when I worked as a visual artist.
I don't think gender makes any difference when it comes to writing literature. That would depend on the country too, wouldn't it? Traditionally, when women have been up against it, they have published under the fictitious name of a man.
Nalini: What inspires you - in life and in literature?
Yolanda: I'm surprised to reply in this way - I think my creative mind inspires me in Life as I marvel or shake my fist at the amazing mess that Life is. It's my own experience of Life that inspires my creative writing.
Nalini: What is your writing routine like? Is there any ritual?
Yolanda: I like to write first thing in the morning - even before I wash and brush my teeth. Of course, this is not a good idea… fortunately I live alone. Meanwhile, some four or five hours later I discover my legs don't work and I've got breakfast all over my MacBook Pro. This isn't the healthiest of routines, and my trampoline, behind the settee, pines for me to jump up and down on it, however this time of day is when I'm at my most analytical. After that I get out and about, multi-task, and allow stress to wind me up.
Nalini: You were an artist and now you are a novelist. How and why did this happen?
Yolanda: I was an artist, and now I'm a penniless novelist. On 7th July 2005 a construction giant invaded my premises and began a year of Trespass to the Land, Trespass to the Airspace, Trespass to the Subsoil, and Damage & Occupation, and each time this occurred, the construction site men demanded my presence to give them access - all this was very disruptive to my routine… they also collapsed the public sewers adjacent to my garden, and I received a life-threatening infection, which in turn brought other health issues…
I was so angry at having my routine upturned, and generally being treated like a doormat that I wanted legal redress. Three or four immoral solicitors later, I litigated in the UK county courts on my own, learnt about the necessary legislation, which was very difficult for me, and at the end of 2010, the £1.8 billion profit making giant settled the matter in my favour, largely because the pivotal evidence, as Defendant, was a fake. Afterwards, I realized that the written word was more powerful than painting any picture, and that I could transport the activity of writing anywhere.
Nalini: How has the reception of your books been like?
Yolanda: I can only answer this when my books have reached a wider audience. However, when I read from my novel, I always receive a great response.
Nalini: What would you tell your younger self if you could travel back?
Yolanda: Not to be so obsessed with work. To find that one special person and to have a family is far more important. Or is it? To not be undermined when those around you are insincere. Here's an extract that keeps me going:
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
Nalini: Do you have a favorite quote or philosophy?
Yolanda: Oops, I just gave it to you.
Nalini: Which is your current favorite book/film/art?
Yolanda: Book - there are too many for me to have one favorite. I absolutely adored 'Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If I could model myself on any writer, it would probably be Isabel Allende, but there again there are so many writers I have yet to discover. A special thanks to Scot Bradfield, American author based in London, for his tuition on 'point of view'. I've read all of his novels and short stories. Film - again too many to mention. I especially like the films that are based on a true story. For example, I recently re-watched a DVD based on the life of John Rabe called "City of War". An unlikely Nazi, he saved 200 thousand Chinese lives during the Rape of Nanking. Later, he was removed from his position at the helm of Siemens, and went through a lengthy / unnecessary de-nazification process in Berlin. He and his family were left to starve, however the Major of Nanjing [Nanking] heard about his woe, promptly collected £20 thousand pounds, flew to Berlin, and bought John Rabe a stack of food. Art - I hate the contemporary art scene in the UK. Favorite piece of art? Again, it's so hard to decide. I remember reading that Picasso stole a piece of African sculpture from the Louvre and nervously disposed of it in the river. What would I steal if I had the chance? Where's that truck!
Nalini: What issues about women bug you most?
Yolanda: Actually, I've thought about writing an essay on the topic of how and why women are so bitchy to each other.
Nalini: What is your idea of happiness? and misery?
Yolanda: Happiness - cooking dinner for a doting husband and several healthy offspring. Has anyone got any of these I can borrow? Misery - if my income doesn't improve, I shall be very very miserable!
Nalini: What's your writing process like - an organic discovery or a methodical construction?
Yolanda: I think the secret is to not whip yourself when you write rubbish. Accept the rubbish and keep trying to head towards your own truth.
Nalini: Tell us about 52: loves, the book you have compiled with several writers and poets from all over the world. How has this experience been?
Yolanda: The process has been very interesting, and has taken up the last 14 months. Writers and poets, who live in India, Zimbabwe and China, write much better English than we Brits, you know! Only joking. Or am I? Sorry to jest. My blog page More on 52 Writers will detail the Collection on a daily basis. I hope your readers will read this page and respond by reviewing the Collection on Amazon.
Nalini: Tell us about your forthcoming projects?
Yolanda: I wrote a legal book about the importance of the Case Summary & Skeleton Argument. I'd like to write many more such books or booklets to help ordinary people pursue their civil rights. You can see something of this on my blog under the page: The Yellow Door Series. I need to go to Malacca in Malaysia so that I can write Part 2 of Eye of an Artist. I'd like to visit India too. I need a holiday.
Nalini: Any parting words for women writers struggling to find their feet?
Yolanda: Any woman can find her feet. They are below the kneecaps.
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Theories, Ideas and Insights
by Andrew Vastag
This is a book of Vastagian theory. Although I maintain it is a book of theoretical philosophy, it still has a strong psychological and psychoanalytic foundation. The book essentially represents theories and I advocate that one should investigate these theories through scientific method. My aim with this book is to give people a new perspective and to inspire them to enhance their lives and their minds through techniques mentioned in the book that are available to all.
Let's Swim to Eel Pie Island
By John Joyce
Eel Pie Island, in the River Thames, is located in Twickenham, of Rugby fame, about 16 kilometres from central London. During the early sixties, the Eel Pie Hotel gravitated from being a jazz club to a nascent centre for British rhythm and blues. The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Long John Baldry all performed there.
Howlin' Wolf sang "That's evil, evil is goin' on wrong." I saw Howlin' Wolf perform on Eel Pie Island; I recall he brushed past me on his way to the bar. This was not my first visit to Eel Pie Island - that would have been for a St. Mary's Teacher's College dance. Traditional jazz, played in a dimly lit dance hall, where the floorboards beamed when you walked across them and zodiac signs adorned the stage's wall. This was probably in 1962; I remember very little else. A few years later I worked at the door, checking tickets for one of the Chiswick Polytechnic's school dances.
Twickenham's large outdoor pool, where I sometimes swam, was adjacent to Eel Pie Island. I have always wondered why it was destroyed. There was a toll to cross over a footbridge to the island - few pence, I recall - collected by some river person, who probably lived on a houseboat. One Wednesday in August 1963, I skipped training at the Teddington Physical Culture Club and went to hear the Stones. I had heard their Chuck Berry song "Come On" on 208, Radio Luxembourg. There were still no huge queues or a need for membership, but that changed over the subsequent weeks. I still have my membership card: Passport to Eelpiland, No. 13892, Pan - Prince of Trads.
One Wednesday I walked over the footbridge with Ian Stewart, who in the previous weeks had been the Rolling Stones' pianist; Andrew Loog Oldham must have done his dirtywork that week. "Stu," as he was affectionately called by the Stones, recorded with them for many years and became their road manager. I remember he didn't have to pay for entrance and I did. On a couple of Wednesdays the crowd stamped and shouted for the Stones to perform the Beatles' hit record "Twist and Shout." They never did, but they retorted with a Bo Diddley song or "Route 66," I can't recall which. At one of these Wednesday sessions, I remember Eric Easton, co-manager of the Rolling Stones, standing and announcing that the Stones were going to appear on a new television program called Ready Steady Go.
I once heard Cream play, accompanied by lots of blues harp; it was allegedly their first performance. Slowhand had recently left John Mayall's Blues Breakers for the second time. There was also a lot of harp, electric harp, when Cyril Davis performed. I believe I heard Ottilie Patterson sing one Saturday night, probably with Chris Barber. I heard Long John Baldry sing a few times. Was he then with Bluesology? Did he sing "Hoochie Coochie Man"?
Saturday night became the traditional jazz night and Sunday was low-key music night. I recall some summer Sunday evenings sitting outside the dance hall, drinking draft cider and gazing at the River Thames. Were we all underage drinkers? For some reason, I see Long John Baldry walking beside the Eel Pie Hotel. The conversations would have not have been about music but about groups: The Graham Bond Organisation, the Others, Jimmy Powell & The Five Dimensions, Manfred Mann, John Mayall's Blues Breakers. Who was joining and who was leaving and where were they performing? We certainly didn't discuss string theory or "our place in Europe."
I am writing from Vancouver, Canada, where I have lived for some years. Most folk I associate with prefer to talk sport. Twickenham equals rugby, and I am often asked, where exactly is Wimbledon? I have closeted memories of those Eel Pie Island days and am amazed how the personalities of that era have travelled with me.
I once had a pleasant conversation with the late Long John Baldry. I understand Andrew Loog Oldham lives somewhere in Vancouver. Chris Barber gave a great concert here and I had a chat with him in the auditorium. I take lunch near a record shop which has a poster of one of the former vocalists with Jimmy Powell & The Five Dimensions; it advertises the Great American Songbook Volume IV. I see he received an MBE. The Roosters' old guitarist will be playing in Vancouver soon, and the Birds' former bass player had another art exhibition here. The Rolling Stones played here the other week - without Brian Jones, of course. On Christmas Day my wife gave me Elton John's Christmas Party CD (I also have Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones on my desk). I checked, and yes, Reg Dwight had been the keyboards player in the band Bluesology, which included Long John Baldry.
Howlin' Wolf got it wrong, but it was evil to destroy the Twickenham swimming pool.
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52: Loves an International Collection of Short Stories & Poems
Yolanda Christian (Editor)
One for each WEEK of the year. No matter which country, or what genre, we're united in our creativity and write to you about LOVE. We are from Austria, Australia, China, France, Germany, [Guyana], India, Ireland, Spain, the UK, the USA, and Zimbabwe. Most of us are published writers. We are led by a handful of GUEST WRITERS.
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Starting a Business and Keeping it From the Edge
by John Joyce
A hard hitting book on starting and maintaining a business. A must read for those preparing to run their own business and a good fun read for those who wished they had. Starting a business and keeping from the Edge by John Joyce only $4.99 at Smashwords and at the Amazon.com. Download a copy now.
Thoughts on an Independent Scotland
By Brian Judge
I was born and raised in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. At school I learned the history of firstly, the union of the crowns when the Scottish King became also the king of England and Wales resulting in the enlarged state being named Great Britain. In 1707, the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, dissolved itself and its representatives then joined their opposite numbers in London creating one governing body for the entire new state.
Now to my early adult life. I was still resident in Edinburgh and by then was able to go abroad, initially for holidays then in later years also for work. I have now retired but throughout my travels to many countries, over decades, I was frequently asked where I came from. To which I would respond in those days, that I was British and came from Britain. This answer often meant nothing to the enquirer which at the time surprised me. Hadn't Britain in fairly recent memory ruled the largest empire the world had ever seen? Had my country not been admired worldwide for its stance against totalitarianism during WW2?
And yet these, not un-educated people appeared to have no knowledge of Britain.
Around this time, I found that many English people I encountered however, in reply to the same question, declared themselves to be from England and gave their nationality as English. Whereas most foreigners knew nothing of the United Kingdom, Britain and certainly not Scotland, they did know something about England, albeit flawed, as it later transpired. So to give myself an identity, from then on I would inform people that I was Scottish from Scotland. The response now was interesting if at the same time insulting. It was often, 'Ah! England!... or they might ask me, was it Ireland, Holland, or perhaps Poland, I was talking about? And this situation has endured for decades and is still common today. So I wondered how could the World and his wife have got it all so wrong? Were the Geography teachers around the globe all so ignorant?
It was at this point I hit on the answer. I now came to the conclusion that a vast amount of English people have been traversing the globe for centuries, propagating the myth that England is a sovereign (island) state comprising what is in fact 'the British Isles'(Scotland, England and Wales). That being the case it is my contention that 'the English' to a large extent have never accepted the Union even to this day over 300 years later. Or, alternatively, have re-named Great Britain as England as if Scotland and Wales had been colonized by the English. Now, how is that for arrogance in a supposedly 'United Kingdom'?
So, when the current Prime Minister in campaigning before the referendum for or against an independent Scotland kept saying ….'We want you to stay', it was not clear to whom he was referring as 'We'. The Government, the English? And this prompts the question - Stay where? To continue as an adjunct of England? No thanks.
All major Political parties have been repeatedly stating for many years that Scotland receives more funds from the London Government, pro rata than the rest of the UK. Why should this be? And why are the non-Scots tax -payers accepting such a discriminatory situation to their disadvantage?
Now, surely, if that were the case, Westminster should welcome the separation of Scotland if it is such a drain on the nation's economy, instead of pleading and fighting for it to remain.
So, this turns out to be yet another lie from Westminster.
Now to the question of whether Scotland would be a viable state were it to become independent?
1) North Sea Oil is in decline.
2) The major Banks and Insurance companies would pull out.
3) The Scots would not be permitted to use the Pound Sterling.
4) Scotland may not be admitted to the European Union.
5) The country is too small to support itself.
1) When first discovered, the 'Experts' said that the oil would have run out within thirty years. New technology later developed has withdrawn oil far beyond that timeline and new fields are still being discovered. Presently, the selling price is low but I expect in time, the market will adjust to changing circumstances, as it always does.
2) The Banks involved are the same ones which had they not been bailed out with tax-payer's money, would have collapsed due to their reckless management. And the RBS today, many years later is still un-profitable and still reliant on the tax-payers to stay in business. So good riddance! I am quite sure that many Banks & Insurers from Europe and around the world would quickly replace these disgraced institutions.
3) Scottish Banks have been printing their own banknotes for hundreds of years and which are used in everyday transactions throughout Scotland and in some parts of England, including London. Incidentally, several countries around the world use the US Dollar rather than their own currency and this seems to be quite acceptable to the US Government.
4) At the time of writing there are many serious problems concerning the European Union, its member states and the Euro, so the future of the whole enterprise is unclear.
5) Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and tiny little Singapore which has no natural recourses, all seem to be doing rather well.
And finally to highlight one institution which has always been independent - the Scottish Legal System, I ……….'rest my case'.
By G David Schwartz
I like summer because it is warm and I like the warmth more that the cold. I despise the cold. I appreciate a warm hand and hot chocolate. I enjoy lauding in the sun (except during the months of September through May. It is possible, well everything is possible, to go swimming drink these nine months but outside there is sand strewn on the beach.
This is where some people say the word sandwich derived.
But I, who got A's in my history courses, and this children is why history is important, learned on day that in merry old England there were Dukes and Duchess (royalty not just names to give canine) and there was also other dog names like Rover, Minestrone, and Maverick the greatest dog ever to exist. He was an excellent defender. I'll tell you one instance. We were playing game of football. Tackle. It was my turn to be wide receiver so the ball was hiked and I darted off. And darting being me was a boy from the other team. He was a senior in high school. He was about six feet two and a half inches' and approximately 600 hundred pounds and as he leapt to land on me in order to bring be to the ground, my dog leapt from my porch, ok it was my mother's porch, and flew across the lawn two houses away and landed on the monsters coat growling viciously and tearing frantically to the middle of the goat where the Bohemian monster had so recently departed, never to be seen again.
Later we all went to get a sandwich, peanut and putter.
While nibbling on the sandwich, I remember that I was telling you about English sandwiches, err English royalty. Earl of Sandwich, a 17th-century title in the Peerage of England, nominally associated with Sandwich, Kent. It was created in 1660 for the prominent naval commander Admiral Sir Edward Montagu. He was made Baron Montagu, of St Neots in the County of Huntingdon, and Viscount Hinchingbrooke, at the same time, also in the Peerage of England. The viscountcy is used as the courtesy title by the heir apparent to the earldom. A member of the prominent Montagu family, Lord Sandwich was the son of Sir Sidney Montagu, youngest brother of Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester (from whom the Dukes of Manchester descend) and Edward Montagu, 1st Baron Montagu of Boughton (from whom the Dukes of Montagu descended). He was succeeded by his son, the second Earl. He briefly represented Dover in the House of Commons and served as Ambassador to Portugal and as Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire.
Well, giving you this history lesson has made me eager to have a bit or two of eat. Thus so, here I go…
Cafe Con Oscar
By Erika Gisela Abad Merced
In this piece, the narrator explores what she hopes to be able to discuss once reunited with mentor, Oscar. Pulling inspiration from a decade of letter writing to political prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera, the narrator wonders when they will be able to have a conversation about he means to anyone working for social change.
For ten years, when concerned with the treatment of women in grassroots work, when coming out and dealing with the ensuing racism and homophobia that follow, when grappling with underemployment and what such a position allowed me to witness for the first time, I write Oscar to come to terms with what I can change with what I cannot control.
His letters are a beacon of hope. More than that, his letters remind me the importance of why I write--as an artist, as a person who needs to take responsibility for her own story, as a woman who feels called to take action despite the overwhelming reality of what it means and what we all know we risk--his stories tell me why it's important to keep going. Knowing where he is, why he is there puts a lot of my frustrations and my impatience in perspective. His letters were comfort at many moments when I could not rely on anything or anyone else.
But it's not enough to keep writing him or writing about what writing him means. It's not enough to write him, to thank him, to hear his counsel in letters written. It's not enough to buy pasteles for the fundraisers held for his freedom. It's not enough to demand he come home. It's not enough because the work does not end there. It's not enough because we need to remember why he was there and why we are here, here able to read about who he is, about what he's done. It's not enough because we need to make sure all of us remember what it meant--what it means.
When I think about how to best capture the significance of his release, and the history I want to spend the next few years recovering from his and other former political prisoner letters from prison, I think about compartiendo cafe. Quiero compartir cafe con Oscar. Lo quiero compartir con el cuando hablamos of the nuances his letters cover. Quiero compartir cafe con el mientras debatimos privileges I often forget while I am writing and reviewing themes in letters, speeches and news articles. Quiero compartir cafe con Oscar while I gather family and friends' stories because to write and read about what he means to so many of us is not enough. He has the right to see it, to breathe it, to taste it, to feel the warmth of it outside of prison walls.
We owe him that much because, as his letters continue to remind me, he has faith in us, in what we can do, even when we do not believe we should or we can. Y quiero compartir cafe con Oscar to say thank you. Thank you for never letting us forget.
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The News Factory
by Matthew Abuelo
The last book by Matthew Abuelo focuses on the quickly disappearing New York which is being white washed by gentrification. Most of the poems and short stories focuses on specific tenants of an SRO building along with some homeless people who once held a higher status before disease and financial problems hit. There is also several references to disappearing New york City institutions such as CBGB.