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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 15 August 2016

In my absence...

I am currently away and will not be posting as normal this week.  Service resumes next week, hopefully!  In the meantime, may I recommend a book...

Just finished The Muse by Jessie Burton.  The author of The Miniaturist has produced an outstanding second novel.  The characters are brilliantly observed and the period settings are meticulous.  I absolutely loved it and am considering abandoning the rest of my holiday reading list in order to re-read it!

Talk to you soon....

Monday, 8 August 2016

Can Donald Trump Surf?

So I am off to California.  Apart from a brief stop in San Francisco nearly twenty years ago, I have never been there.  As a movie fan, I am beyond excited about Los Angeles and Hollywood.  And I am going to attempt to learn to surf.  (Or maybe paddleboard - a little more sedate.)
However, in this American election year, I am also curious about what we will find.  We are staying in San Diego too, near the Mexican border.  I intend to take my family to see the current arrangements - high metal border gates and so on.  I think it is important for us to see the physical manifestation of the way the world is going.  If Trump has his way, it will be a brick edifice of course.  But I think the border will be scary enough as it is.  And we are people who are unaffected by it - at present.
I say 'at present' because I believe if Trump were to succeed to in his plans, there are implications for the whole world.  The man is campaigning on a wave of hatred that could indeed propel him to the White House.  But if he makes it to the Oval Office, can he then ride the riptide which he will have unleashed?  Or will it be a closeout?
In the UK, reported hate crimes rose in the wake of the Brexit vote.  The very worst of our society thought they suddenly had the right to treat others with contempt.
Now let's just pause and think about what might happen in the US in the wake of a Trump victory, where everyone has the right to carry guns.  Guns so prevalent, incidentally, that a number of people are killed every year in the US by toddlers who have picked up loaded guns found in their homes.  Terrifying, isn't it? 
A politician aiming for national office in the US has to find factors which appeal to a huge variance in people, places and concerns.  Unifying factors which have historically been all too often based on fears.   The US is not the only place where this happens by any means.  But its open society and importance to the world in general make the knock-on effects of its domestic politics very troubling.
So I am 'looking forward' - for want of a better phrase - to hearing 'the word on the street'.  To seeing some of the bonkers TV election ads.  To trying to gauge, just a little, what people think might happen.  Although I don't think a Brit is the best person to ask for political predictions at the moment.  Let alone surfing advice*.
*although I have been reading the slang.  Can you tell??!

Monday, 1 August 2016

More World History, Please

For the last couple of weeks I have been listening to The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan on Audible.  It is a fascinating 'reassessment of world history' as the blurb says.
Frankopan starts with the idea that centuries ago, maps of the  known world centred on places like Constantinople and even further East.  I am now about half way through and it has been so amazing to hear about places like Kabul, Baghdad and Palmyra in such a different context to what we are used to in our century.  Such rich histories and civilisations.  I knew, of course, these places had incredible stories from way back but it is hard to imagine when all you see and hear most days in relation to them is destruction.  My own grandfather used to work in places like Baghdad and Beirut and that was only in the twentieth century but it seems unimaginable when you see how things are today.  And I was never given the opportunity to study them before.
There are many aspects of The Silk Roads which I could discuss in relation to the themes of this blog.  For example, it has given me some idea of the movement of peoples in Asia and shown me why my DNA test has traces of Afghanistan and Tibet in its 22% Asian.
It also ties in very much with modern day politics.  I have written quite a few times about how we are none of us pure 'Anglo' and how immigration and people movements are not a modern phenomenon nor should they be feared.  The main events our politicians reference are really very recent in comparison to the history of the world.  The millennial-old patterns shown in The Silk Roads are simply being continued today.  It is tactics and technology that have changed.
And as for Britain, the battle since the Second World War to maintain our 'place in the world', our space at the 'top table' as our press refer to it, seems a minor blip when you consider that the first proper maps of the world barely acknowledged our existence.  And Seventy years of European co-operation is nothing when seen alongside Frankopan's assessment of historical trends.
I am really looking forward to hearing the second half of the book and I really recommend you give it a try if you would like to try to better understand the times through which we are living at the moment.  It is a very accessible account of a period and of places which I feel are very much neglected in our education system.  Our children need more understanding of the history of the world as a whole, rather than 'Tudors', 'Victorians', etc. if peace is every to come again.