On A Wing And A Prayer

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport’. Douglas Adams


“Are you a passenger on this flight, Madame?”

I looked wearily up from the laden luggage cart I was pushing in the direction of the departure gate to see an airport employee looking at me enquiringly. Shaking my head, I turned the cart around and started back up the long incline to the main airport hall. Continue reading

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DaOuali

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

-Virginia Woolf


On my return to Algeria, after five lonely months spent in Britain, we celebrated our reunion by dining out that same evening at one of Oran’s many restaurants. I was in a state of euphoric relief, almost dizzy with it. Although only a few hours had passed since I had set foot back in Algeria, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Continue reading

The Good-Time Girl

It seems that the people of Oran are like that friend of Flaubert who, on the point of death, casting a last glance at the irreplaceable earth, exclaimed: “Close the window, it’s too beautiful.”
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays


One of Algeria’s paradoxes is that it is both a relatively new nation and an ancient land, with a history stretching back to pre-biblical times. When we were living there, I must confess that we were so caught up in the difficulties of day-to-day living, we were blind to the wealth of history just under our feet and around every corner. We had Roman ruins just down the street – a few hundred yards from our front door. I don’t think we ever visited them during all the time we were there. Continue reading

A New Heaven

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

-Helen Keller


I leant against the door of our flat on the eighth floor of the Cité Jeanne d’Arc and listened to my husband’s footsteps clattering down the flight of polished granite stairs to the lift on the landing below. The tiny, two-person lift, when it was working, only stopped on floors with odd numbers. It was still dark and the air was still chilly with night, but, on peering earlier through the bedroom window, I had seen a pinkish-yellow glow to the east. Continue reading