Looking for a life – the fruits of our labour (Lagos, Nigeria)

December 6, 2016

Mosque minarets pierce soggy Lagos skies and I ask my driver to stop, the road potholed with waterlogged lakes and lined both sides with traders’ stalls. Just here are piles of tomatoes on tottering stacks of pavers. Ribs sizzle next door, sweet basil wafting from the meaty pile frying over open flames. Rasheed’s seat is […]

The Flower Girl and The Lizard King – Père Lachaise (Paris, France)

February 8, 2015

There’s a raspy laugh, parted purple lips, a toothy gap and shining silver orb perched on a pierced tongue. “French? Me?” Mascared eyes shine from an impossibly pallid face. “Like…God no.” There’s a slight lisp, the word ‘God’ stretched for effect, the intonation classic Celtic.  Layla is barely 120cm tall in patent platform boots shining […]

Clarisse of Arabia – teaching the children (Helsinki, Finland)

January 19, 2014

Outside the station I squint in late summer sun, a grand entrance clad in grey Finnish granite and guarded by lamp-holding titans: stern-faced stone men far too serious to be the animated rap stars of railway advertising campaigns. At their feet, there’s a kid busker with peaked cap and grandmother’s clarinet. With a population of […]

Something from Nothing – mystic gifts (New York, USA)

November 10, 2013

There’s something about these multi-coloured cocoons, the plaque on the wall `Judith Scott: 1943-2005’. I adjust my glasses and lean closer, scratching my head and struggling with the notion of an artist not only deaf and mute, but also stricken with the effects of Down Syndrome. I’m in the New Museum of Modern Art (or […]

A Tale of Three Cities – once upon a town (Soweto, South Africa)

November 3, 2013

It’s early morning, The Healer a tall woman with the short-cropped, knotted hair of her people. I lean closer to hear her words, those bloodshot eyes blurred but vacant. She talks of `home’ – and the importance of family – before suddenly falling silent. We’re standing on an elevated ancient seabed: the rocky ridge of […]

Bells and Whistles – mothers and fathers (Tuscany, Italy)

September 25, 2013

Dragano is an editor initially from up north. He’s tall and rakish, the wisp of a moustache and sleek brown hair; has the habit of whistling unexpectedly, as he ponders the ways of an unjust world while stroking a precocious black cat. His villa is classic Tuscan, the bricks and terra cotta gables more orange […]

Lofoten Lost Dogs – back from the brink (Norway)

September 14, 2013

“Puffin dogs?” Hege shakes her head. “You know, there are none on the island at this point in time?” I’m speechless with disappointment. “Yah,” she adds, “but there were hundreds here last week.” It seems we’ve just missed the Norwegian Lundehund Club 50 Year Anniversary – a meeting of puffin dogs from around the world. […]

Mandela Day – the remaking of South Africa (Johannesburg)

July 16, 2013

Back in Johannesburg for an extended African stay, I’ve been away for over 35 years. There’s no immigration paperwork, and I’m simply issued a visa at the airport. From Perth it’s been an 11hr flight, across the Indian Ocean, skirting Mauritius and Mozambique. The city is waking to another sky of azure blue, the signature […]