Why Leonard is illuminating the darkness and how to face down facebook with metta

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve survived Christmas and are cruising towards New Year, happy or sad, reinvigorated or bruised by life. This year hasn’t been easy for most of the world – I’m listening to Mr Leonard Cohen wanting it darker right now which has, of course, has set me off on a twilit path of […]

Why Bamako is the new Bangui

Hello again, with greetings from Bamako! I’m now living here, in this busy city filled with life and traffic fumes and poverty and occasional joy and music and peanut sauce and above all, banter. Malians like to joke. So do I, which is why I think we are getting along. Despite the traffic. I moved […]

Paradise….. if you can stand it

Do you ever wonder what actually happens to clothes you donate? Where they end up – and who wears them? Well, I’m in Greece, on the island of Samos working with Samos Volunteers for a month, and can testify about what happens to the donated items we receive here, and who receives them. We are working […]

Referenda Furorem, staying optimistic when hysteria Trumps truth and international postings

So. You know something’s gone seriously wrong when Marie Le Pen is celebrating the UK referendum result, 7 members of the Labour shadow cabinet (and counting) have resigned and 1.3 million voters have signed a petition demanding a re-run of Thursday’s historic vote. Scotland First Minister La Sturgeon is already threatening to veto BREXIT. Right […]

Calm in CAR, rhododendrons in Nepal and the global search for happiness!

So. Bangui and I finally parted company four months ago. It was hard in a good way, because it felt like the right move, which counts as a good ending. I spent my last night in ‘La coquette’ sitting on my balcony eating pizza with friends and laughing about the experiences we’ve shared over the […]

In which Bangui sees the Pope Francois come and go in a Holy Whirl

So. The Pope arrived here in Bangui this morning just slightly late at 10.45 am. I heard his plane touch down, the Presidential cavalcade screeching its way past the airport, and later this afternoon hymns from the Cathedral mass drifted up to my garden. I live near Bangui Cathedral, and have a pass to the Pope […]

In which tennis becomes a political statement

These last couple of weeks in Bangui have been very stressful. Between 24 September – 2 October an eruption of violence, politically orchestrated and clearly calculated to bring down the discredited Transitional Government, killed at least 77 people. Hundreds more were injured, and houses were burnt down across Bangui’s 5th arrondissement. International NGO offices were […]

how to write about the Central African Republic

Having previously pondered how pushed-for-time reporters tend to write about life, and more especially death, here in the Central African Republic (CAR) I thought I’d post my own guide to writing about CAR. With a nod and heavy wink to Binyavanga Wainaina’s stupendous 2005 satire, ‘how to write about Africa,’ which still makes me laugh today. […]

Reasons to be poignant in Bangui

Sometimes, when looking at scenes of my daily life in Bangui – like the MBYE nightclub where I dance most weekends and the Bangui Rock Club where I play tennis – I am struck by the fact these images aren’t represented by any international media coverage of the Central African Republic (CAR). This country has […]

In which the Bangui National Forum Needs to Move On…..

The Bangui National Forum is just over. The last speech rang out in the Parliament late this afternoon; tomorrow’s Air France flight from Bangui – Paris will be packed with suits, flying back to Europe to file reports on possibilities for peace in CAR.  For those of us who are not leaving (I’ve been here […]