The Salonika Campaign remembered
One hundred years ago on October 5th 1915 a tired and under strength division of British soldiers landed on the quay at Salonika in northern Greece. The Bulgarian army, part of the Axis forces, were closing in on the borders of Macedonia. They had routed the Serbian Army which was now in retreat across the Albanian Alps in the freezing winter, over perilous passes, snow covered ledges around precipices, tumultuous and dangerously swollen rivers, dying by the hundreds on this terrible journey. Often the soldiers were lucky to be offered even a little bread as they made their way and many died from typhus, starvation and exhaustion. Their plight awakened the sympathy of the British public who demanded that something should be done to help this devastated country...
The Lure of the Lighthouses
Is it the raging seas or the skies or the wind or the drama of it all? I have no real answer to the reason why so many of us love lighthouses. Perhaps it’s the idea of that beacon of light and human kindness piercing the storm and helping to guide the mariners to a safe shore rather than let them perish on the rocks. That’s a strong, almost religious reason, I suspect, because it is also a symbol of our passage through life, isn’t it? Those moments of drama and stormy emotions, moments of pain and sorrow; sometimes feeling lost and bewildered about which way to go, fearful of the dangers, wondering if we’ll arrive in a safe harbour or perish on the journey.
Treading life’s Broad Highway
Children have such wonderful blank canvases for minds. And the books they read at this period become impressed as if on soft clay that has not yet baked and hardened into an unchangeable shape by adult experiences and disappointments. The books that impressed me as a child are those that resonated even then with something latent in my nature. Bringing them to mind even after all these years still carries with the memory that thrill of discovery, the joy, the exquisite pleasure of losing myself in a golden, hazy, and more delightful world before my mother returned me to the mundanities of drying dishes, laying the table or going down to the shops.
Does Britain hold the Grail King?
The best of fairystories and myths are told in cycles and though the name of the hero or heroine may change from tale to tale, the essence of the heroic nature or the goal pursued is basically the same. The goal is individuation, spiritual wholeness and on the way to this Promised Land, the dragon of apathy and materialism has to be tackled; that atrophic death-like state which always threatens to pull us into a sleep from which we may never wake up.
How They Met Themselves
1. An article on the 'bogie' drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
With a peculiar start of recognition, I first came across this unusual and atmospheric drawing in the 1980’s. In this haunting image of a man and woman walking in the deep woods and meeting an apparition of their higher and spiritual selves, I met myself as well. For me, the swooning earthbound lady craves to reach her otherworldly self, glowing with ghostly and luminous light. The spirit maiden gazes back at her with a troubled, compassionate look. The men in the picture are shocked, afraid, challenging, hands on their swords – as men often seem to be when presented with anything unearthly or otherworldly. I felt that yearning for my higher ‘self’, felt the amazing pull of understanding and depth that this picture depicted.
Where did the skull go?
On the cover of my new book The Crimson Bed is a beautiful picture by John William Waterhouse. (1849-1817)
He was not a part of the original Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which had disbanded as a group by the time Waterhouse was a young man. However, like many other artists who came later, Waterhouse was much influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite style and their interest in mysterious and beautiful women, mythical subjects and rich colourful clothing and scenes.
Promises made and Broken: a war-time romance
Sometimes I wonder if my enduring love of writing romantic stories comes from my awareness of my parent’s tragic love story. My debut novel The Long Shadow is set in Greece and has as a theme the conflict of a child who is born from parents of Greek and English nationality and the subsequent tension in that person’s soul over where their roots lie and where their heart belongs. There must be many people in Britain who face this dilemma nowadays and in the end I’m not sure there’s a real conclusion. But you’ll have to read the book to see the possible solution!