Birds of A Feather

January 11, 2013

r1-290Rooster and Cockerel lived in a bachelor pad on the heights above Algiers. Though very much the same they were in fact two very different beasts living in the same town. At six o’clock every morning Rooster would drag his tattered tail out onto the balcony. He had no idea where Mecca might be located but he would hold his breath and then when the imams down the road called for prayer he would let rip with gusto. His calls were echoed up and down the escarpment, for Algiers is a Moslem city after all. Every other apartment echoed his call and the as the peach first smeared the dark blue of the morning sky they went out of their way to call awake and stir the faithful. Cockerel had long since ceased hearing these early morning calls. But if they ever penetrated his sleep it was a light touch and he would roll over in his bachelor nest, ruffle the feathers of his latest hen and drop back off to sleep. Rooster didn’t mind and was not the least bit offended. He could live and let live. Read more

Walking the Casbah

January 10, 2013

casbah290There was a canary called Farouk. He sat in the window behind a dirty curtain installed when the French were in control and trilled his song across a filthy narrow lane three stories above the cobbles. Three tenements down his trill was answered by another, though Farouk did not know his name.  Farouk was a little vain and did not think his neighbour’s song anything to write home about, though he was glad of his unseen company.  But nor did he know the name of she who trilled from across the roof tiles and in a neighbouring lane, a song he could only hear if the wind was not blowing. On those days they would sing for each other. He would always save his sweetest and choicest notes for her. They were never to be squandered and left to drop on the cobblestones below. He would swell his chest and sing his heart for her, and she for he, though they would never see each other in this life. Up here on the hill the wind always seemed to blow. Cold from out of the north when the days were short and the doona fogs had to be pulled off the city each morning. Or oven hot, winds from out of the desert south that melted the city into the summer copper sea. But Farouk would sing anyway, whether he could hear her or not. For what else could he do? Read more

Welcome to Algeria

January 8, 2013

algiers290Ha, now I know I’m alive – this place is more edgy than sleepy old Verdun. Taxi at the airport? No such thing. Just Boris the Bullet Dodger and all his dodgy mates in their little, dusty Chevrolets. Yes, Chevrolets. More Cevy compacts than tiny French cars.

How much to the city?


Nah mate. Some bad Española if that helps.

I have some English (Anglash).


He punches 3000 into his phone.

It feels about right given the distance into the city and I’m in no mood to haggle. So we walk out past an empty taxi rank and into an ever darkening car park , over piles of rubble and rubbish. We arrive at his dusty little car and he goes around the back and opens the boot. I wait at the front. We get in the car after an argument about my backpack. There is no way that is going in the boot. I am on edge already and being as careful as I can be. No way is that bag leaving my hands. I am now hyper alert. Read more