Tag Archives: Thoughts

Why We Travel

I used to teach at university until fairly recently. Part of my role consisted of teaching first-year ESL students how to read fiction and non-fiction. Before diving into the heart of the matter, I would invariably ask them the same question: why do we read? And I would invariably get the same answers. Most students would come up with individual observations, all along the lines of entertainment and edification, which is interesting on two counts. First, their answers showed that they had personal reasons to read (which always reassured me) and second, that they were missing the bigger picture. Continue reading

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The Angels of Mons

Silence has fallen on Saint-Symphorien’s military cemetery as the sun goes down in the West. The grey Commonwealth-issued tombstones cast long shadows over the manicured lawns, and the roses have started shedding their petals one by one. I cannot help but wonder whether they are military-issued too. Previous visitors have left a handful of stones on a Jewish soldier’s grave. I do the same and walk on between the narrow alleys. The cemetery is not the largest in the region; only 513 of the 3,700 British and German soldiers who died in Mons in late August 1914 are buried here. In the aftermath of the slaughter, many of them were hurriedly inhumed in local cemeteries, or their bodies were simply accounted as missing. Continue reading