Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse Culture Shock

The first half of May I spent in Bishkek where among other things I was to be a guest speaker at various places including universities and a private language school. Now I know many of you would take this sort of thing in your stride but for me, despite jumping at the opportunity, it was something of a challenge. I am not a teacher or lecturer, I have never been much of a public speaker and, despite having done some acting, I suffer from stage fright. For these reasons I requested an informal setting and asked that the stress be on question and answer sessions. Armed with some photos, a guitar, my book and a vague plan I embarked upon my ‘college tour’. Each venue was different, some had taken my request more seriously than others but the atmosphere was mostly relaxed. I began most sessions with a short series of photos, then went on to talked about my book and ended with one of my own songs. In between a fair amount of improvisations was called for depending on the group. On the whole though there was plenty of room for dialogue. For three of the most frequently asked questions I had no answer: read more

Ostrich Time

Ostrich Time

It is a widely held belief that when confronted by unpleasantness or danger ostriches bury their head in the sand hoping that the danger will pass. Although this is a myth the concept has past into our languages. The Dutch have named the activity of avoiding inconvenient or unpleasant issues after this large flightless bird: The Ostrich Policy (Struisvogelpolitiek ). In English we talk of ‘ burying our head in the sand’ in order to avoid uncomfortable facts. read more

Aerodrome

Aerodrome

When I was a boy I used to cycle from my house to Croydon Aerodrome. Not a great distance for an adult but quite a ride for a small boy. There we used to watch the planes landing and taking off. Croydon Aerodrome was once THE airport for London and England. The rich and the famous; politicians, film stars, opera singers, athletes and royalty would pass through the airport lounge. It was a glamorous, bustling, glittering place….. a long time ago. read more

Running on Empty

Running on Empty

It’s ten o’clock the clouds are still hanging low over the valley. I set off on my racing bike.

Two kilometres alongside the river, back to the village. Through the small market place.

This is where the climb starts. The plan: a 32km continuous uphill ride with two mountain passes, and ending at a ski resort. Yvonne, travelling by car, will meet me and we will either have lunch on a terrace with a good view, or a picnic somewhere on the mountain side, before I ride back to our campsite. read more