Spring has arrived and with it the pilgrimage season. I have recently returned from a trip to the Kurdish region of Iraq (KRI). I was there to interview female Peshmerga for my history of Women Warriors. Given that most wars are largely fought by men, the book looks for answers to one question – what causes some women to take up arms?
Nelson Mandela once asserted that ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." At the very least, it is a power-tool for levelling up. My grandmother left school at 13 but was a strong advocate of life-long learning and, thanks to the ‘Workers Educational Association’ she was living proof of its value.
After being locked down in our cities, or ever-more crowded countryside, the timing of these isolation-paradise movies is impeccable. But what hooks us into these escapist dreams, these illusions, is no different today than it was in the 19th century. Like pilgrimage itself, it taps into an eternal impulse within us all.
Lamb’s 2020 book ‘Our Bodies Their Battlefield’ is grim but compelling. Ultimately, I had to put it down, lacking the courage to continue reading. Afterwards, nursing my own cowardice, I thought of Lamb. The woman who had the strength to face the detailed accounts of violence sustained by women in the course of conflict.
For much of the last four decades I have lived within walking distance of the Thames in London. This weekend I ventured out to explore a stretch of the river’s meandering upper reaches. Setting out from Lechlade in the very early morning mist only larks and reed warblers broke the silence.
This week I spent a glorious hour in conversation with Karwan Jamal Tahir on the topic of female Peshmerga soldiers - research for my book - 'Women Warriors'
Stanford is a Catholic and the content of his book is heavily weighted towards Christian routes and shrines such as Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, and Rome. Nevertheless, he treads a balanced and respectful line across the wider religious terrain.
While the media may be wrapped up in immediate concerns of contagion, we can only assume that the millions flocking to the Kumbh Mela are taking the long view.
During his lifetime Philip Mountbatten was known variously as Prince, Duke, Consort. Some of his titles were honorary others, were earned. In this latter category we might include Influencer – a person who through his trusted position was able to amplify ideas and inspire others to act.
Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road..