Category Archives: Journeys with a book

Language I can’t afford to forget

ShieldOfCoolestAir-Cover 2
On the amazing oral poetry of Somali, and the writing of
A Shield of Coolest Air.

Two years ago, while televisions around the world were showing images of Syrian refugees in boats trying to get to a Greek island, in a London theatre the actor Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Hamlet. After the show he came out in front of the curtain and told the audience that they would be collecting money to help Syrian refugee children.… Read more

Who needs poetry?


The wind blows hard, the night is dark, the stormy waves are rising
The anchor’s chain is broken, and the captain is asleep

British politics? Trump? Communal violence? Actually it’s the poet Ghalib in the early 19th century,  commenting on the world around him Delhi – or perhaps on life in general; and in the first chapter of my novel the words lodge in the mind of Tessa as she faces  a very personal crisis. Read more