The Origins of Travel: Grace Under Pressure

  We are often told that travel is freedom. It’s a romantic view of what is essentially leisurely migration. I don’t see it that way. Not anymore. Wanderlust: one of the most beautiful words in the English language (and typically of Germanic origins) is an evocative word that breathes mountain air and wistful breezes. But…

The Voyages of a Devoted Reader

Literary Travel Guide to Europe and the Americas   Travel guides. Is there anything more miserable, more cliché-making, complacent and sheepish than those small, compact dictionaries-of-places that you can conveniently, nay embarrassingly, carry in your pockets? All you need to scream out ‘tourist’ even louder is a sun-hat, bermuda shorts and sandals. What happened to…

Cenote of Maya Blue – Part I

  The smell of the suckling pig flew into the air like the musical aroma created by a butterfly’s flapping wing. If you go close to it as it marinates in the banana leaves you could smell the potently acidic citrus that comes from the bitter orange that drowns it. Angelica moves past me and…

The Ghost in the Arena

  The Ghost in the Arena     Writing is a blood-sport. And in many blood-sports you tend to find the influence of religion. Think of the superstitions of bullfighters. Or the outspoken religiosity of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Or the Zen-like spirituality of karate. Faith brings these fighters, who frequently flirt with death…

Pool, Bulls and Humanity

What does Mosul and the festival of San Fermin have in common? Humanity. A photograph I saw recently on Twitter (the featured photo above), of a group of Mosul residents, including children, playing pool in a recently liberated district of Mosul where IS previously forbade pool, filled me with that rarest of elements: hope. Hope…

Championing Our Divisive Modern History

    As a devoted admirer of the art of history, a tour guide and a writer who lives on an island so densely packed and renowned for its history you would be right to expect a historical novel or two from me. I recently read an article about Jon Cassar, a Hollywood producer of…

This Sweet Land Chapter III

  III   The stars swam over the bay, hidden by the smoke that danced upwards from the busy beach. The long, red-sand bay of Ghadira was full of people on that wind-less, cloud-less May night. By the water’s edge the black sea turned luminous at the touch of so many gas lamps and crackling…

Maltese Elections: The Greatest Show on Earth

  No one does elections like we do in Malta. This is a fact un-related to political colours, ideologies and alignments. It is something to celebrate, and something that is prodigiously revelatory. Over the course of the last few months I’ve been working (and finishing) the first draft of a novel that has taught me…

On Caribbean Politics and Literature

    Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian Nobel Laureate, has written many masterpieces. The free-flowing Conversation in the Cathedral, the foreboding tome of The War of the End of the World, and the exuberantly post-modern The Green House. A contemporary of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Peruvian is a proud, staunch realist. Reading most of his…

Love in the Meander

  The embrace of the future Deposits warmth.   A future generation adores you And you feel the cymbal of immortality.   That love is like space and time Meandering, interweaving, mysterious.   A child hugs what you’ve always been And you feel what you will always be.   In the eyes of that embrace:…

Valletta: the European Capital of Hipsters

    “On the long dinner table a field of food waved yellow in the dim light of dusk. The Cuban prepared deep fried pork rinds like they did in Cuba, but the rest of it was Maltese stuff; cold pasta, timpana, Maltese bread and sausages, aljolli, and saucers with olives and capers.” The above…

Che Guevara T-shirts and Jihadi John

        “That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.” This quote could so easily belong on the lips of any political strategist amongst Democrats and Republicans…