Images From Bhola

 What's the best way to beat the blues?  You know: the end of the summer, the increasingly dark mornings and shorter evenings, a new term's work already piling up...   Well, you sit down and peruse the Emirates website and the next minute find your fingers are compelled to book flights for Bangladesh!  January 2014, Bhola (and who knows where else?) here we come. With that in mind, and given your patience at my various pontifications over the last few months, I thought I'd simply post a few random snaps of the children and young people currently living in Bhola. Here they are -    Ahsan picking the carrots he's grown on our land in ValumiaBoys relaxing on the roof - where they are building the parapet The girls on a break from the tailoring building stop to chatSchool children practising for Independence Day Parade Salina giving Rosina treatment  in the new physio room The boys getting a lesson in sewing and mending their...
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Edinburgh Fringe, Toddler-Style

August.Edinburgh.Simon shaking me at dawn and demanding, 'mummy, is it morning-time and what show we will see today?'It must be the Fringe.  And Simon is a 3 year old groupie...  If he could write his reviews, he would.  Verbally, he's deconstructed the performances at length and it goes something like this:ALIENS LOVE UNDERPANTS - 'very excellent funny'That's good, because neither of us had read the book before we went.  We have since.  Many, many times.  Nearly as many times as we, and all house-guests, have had to check our underpants have not been stolen.  However, it seem we're okay: we live on the second floor, and aliens, like Darleks, can't - apparently - climb stairs...BIG RED STORY BUS - 'mummy, why don't all buses have stories?'A trip up Arthur's Seat, accompanied by songs and stories from top-deck storyteller, Peter Snow, was very well-received but has set us up for a lifetime of disappointment on Lothian...
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Much Madness; or, A World Within a World.

Here's a conundrum for all you writers - and readers - out there (keep reading, I'll get to the point eventually): In the 1950's, the psychologist Erving Goffman developed the concept of the Total Institution.  This, he defined as: ‘A place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time together, lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.’ (Goffman, 1961)It was the heyday of the 'mental asylum' and of the boarding school, even the convent.  Care in the community wasn't even embryonic and criminals were far more likely to be incarcerated than paroled. Goffman was talking about actual bricks-and-mortar buildings where people on the inside only had contact with people on the outside through a strict system of gatekeeping.  These places were, then, worlds within worlds; they were enclosed.Now, I'm fast-forwarding through lots of theoretical and philosophical debate (I...
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Note From Nicaragua

It would have felt very exotic to finish my novel in Nicaragua.  I could have written a neat little Foreward or Afterword, signed and dated Pochomill, or San Juan or Granada.  Was it ever going to happen?  Of course not.... too many people to see, deserted beaches to explore, horses and carriages for Simon to 'drive', boat trips to private islands.  Oh, and canopy tours above the Mombachu volcano involving harnesses, helmets and zip wires along tightropes and down vertical drops - I strapped on Simon and off we went!  (Not really, he stayed at home eating ice-cream, counting bugs and hunting dragons.  Honestly).  Ah, yes, another time-consuming activity: staying alert to zap my deadly enemy, the mosquito.  As readers will know, Bangladeshi mozzies adored me and Tanzanian ones got so drunk on me, they couldn't fit back through the netting they had infiltrated.  Well, Nicaraguan ones lined the street, all but waving palm leaves and shouting Hosanna.   But...
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Rounding Up and Counting Down

Two days away from an extended trip to the USA and Nicaragua (far enough away to escape the Scottish summer?) I've spent the week drawing this term's community education classes to a close, and finishing up some editing work.Inevitably then, it's been a week of evaluation, reflection  and reviews.  Tricky as it is to come up with an original, interesting and useful evaluation form, it's often harder for the respondent to pass on his or her views via a standard, often dry, bit of paperwork.  Nevertheless, there are some past* comments from  writers that sit, immoveable, in a little corner of my mind.What better to do on a lazy Friday evening, when I should be packing a suitcase, than share them with you? 'Class is quite good but we have to spend too much time writing''I still can't think of anything to write but at least I can do it grammatically now.''Creative writing?  Seems that there are so many rules about grammar...
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