PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1992 - AUGUST
16 38, Saturday 1 August 1992, London
Back in Aldershot Road after a gruelling five hour trek along the M4. We toyed with visiting Merthyr Tydfil and the Brecon hills but decided against it because we had done so much touring yesterday. Indeed, yesterday, we were on the road for some 12-13 hours taking in as much as we could of the parts of Pembrokeshire we hadn’t yet seen. Starting soon after breakfast, we drove across country to the Preseli hills. Despite the crowds in Tenby, much of the region is really empty of people and appears to be living in an earlier time, much like Ireland in fact. The hills are largely sheep moorland, covered in heather and mosses. As on Dartmoor, one can just park the car by the side of the road and within minutes be walking on lonely moorland. Most interesting for me would have been to visit the part which has been identified as the Bronze Age route from the Salisbury plain along which prehistoric peoples travelled to the Wicklow mountains in Ireland in search of the gold and copper there. However, this was over on the other side of the hills so I had to content myself with scrambling across the heather and enjoying the distant views.
Although I have been to Fishguard before (after my finals in Cardiff I hitched off to Ireland for a few days) I didn’t remember it at all. (I’ve just looked up the summer of 1973 in my five year diary and I find that I didn’t go straight after the finals but I went back to Hoddesdon first. And there is no record of the trip other than the intriguing ‘see UWIST diary’ but no such thing exists, not even in my memory.) The beauty of Fishguard is its position high above two harbours, a fisherman’s quaint quay and the larger harbour (Goodwick) for the ferries. We found a smashing bakery which served large breakfasts with thick and tasty bacon, good eggs and well-grilled tomatoes - although the tea was a trifle on the strong side. Afterwards we walked along the cliff path around town, passing a mini-stonehenge as we did so, which Adam joked were dinosaur teeth.
After Fishguard we headed to Porthgain and Abereiddy both of which are interesting for being isolated harbours on an otherwise inhospitable coast, and for having interesting remains of quarry works. Abereiddy in particular has a stunning man-made lagoon, called the Blue Lagoon, perhaps 40 metres in diameter, carved out of the rock and filled by the sea at high tide. The remains of tall stone buildings on one side provide a high diving board for those brave enough. We walked along the cliffs to the only white sand beach at Trwyn Llwyd where we ate a picnic and had a short swim. The beach was wide and sandy, with lots of rocky outcrops which people were using for shade, for wind breaks. But only a small part of the wide flat sands were actually dry; they seemed to remain wet, however far out the tide was. B walked on to Porthgain, while A and I walked back past the Blue Lagoon to the car and drove round to meet her. There are even more extensive quarry remains at Porthgain, hugging the steep hillside around the tiny narrow quay. The Sloop Inn provides tea refreshments for visitors as well as liquor for the few remaining fishermen.
On our way to Abereiddy, we followed signs to the Tregwynt wool mill and were rewarded with a visit to a pleasant place by a flowing brook. The small factory was open and one could just wander around. A dark room enclosed a water wheel turning slowly powered by the stream but I don’t think it was providing the energy for the weaving machines. The inevitable shop sold a variety of fairly traditional weaves. I so liked the place, its easy, open and peaceful atmosphere, that I bought a tie and a winter blouson.
St Davids proved a surprise. No more than a collection of tourist shops and village cottages, Wales’ largest cathedral sits snugly in a grassy dell, surrounded by its churchyard and several old ruins. Despite a number of tourists, this proved a quiet restful place too. We sat in the shady part of the churchyard overlooking the cathedral and admired its form and place. The church is rather beautiful inside, although a cathedral in size and complexity of parts, it retains a calm simplicity. I suppose having been well restored and upkept helps and so does the attractive light grey stone. A choir was practising as we wondered around, which gave the place an even more special feel. There is tons of history associated with the church but as I read the guide books I couldn’t take it in really. It has a beautiful flat wooden ceiling of wood carved in intricate patterns - quite unusual. The most astonishing aspect for me was the way the huge stone pillars that line the aisle look to be off vertical a good few degrees and the way the whole church slopes upwards towards the altar end. I can’t imagine it was built like that so the entrance end must be slowly sinking.
By now we were all somewhat tired. Even so we made two stops on the way back to Tenby - once on the shingle bank at Newgale Sands, which we just happened upon, to have a swim, and once at Haverfordwest for fish and chips, which were horrible.
Linford Christie has just won the 100 metres final. A great moment in British sporting history. The victory would be all the greater if the commentators weren’t quite so sycophantic and if they didn’t talk such a lot dribble all the time. Redgrave and Pinsent also won a gold medal and we had a silver in canoeing. A good day in Barcelona.
20 43, Wednesday 5 August 1992, London
God knows what is happening at work. Everyone but me seems to have hold of a dozen rumours. I learn from several informed sources that a) there are several strong candidates for the editor-in-chief job and that a decision will be made probably late in August; b) that a choice is being made between two candidates - me and Ivo Dawny, the political correspondent on the FT who is trying to get into management; and c) that Dawny has already been chosen, largely because the FT newspaper needs to save £1m on staff and is trying to find escape hatches for those staff that want to move. Interesting if Dawny is my challenger, since he is the only other person in the whole of the FT group, apart from Lynn McRitchie who, of course, is another candidate, that I have a problem with. I’ve only met the man for a few seconds in a lift in Rio, going up to a British Embassy cocktail party, but he managed to get my back up no end. He’s public school, self confident, and just of the same ilk as Will Gibson. I can see him being chosen for that reason alone. I now realise that Will Gibson is part of the whole problem in FTBE. Because he puts no pressure on John McLachlan (nicknamed Dr Devious by the way) and assumes everything going on in newsletters must be OK because the profits are rolling in. So many of the editors are complaining now, about the move, about the conditions, about morale. I have to say that things are really in a horrible mess, all the worse for no one in seniority really recognising it. I really don’t know if I want all the strife such a job would bring me.
MY FIRST LITERARY PRIZE
‘I am delighted’, Adrian Slack, organiser of the literature part of the Brighton Festival, writes, ‘to inform you that you have won first prize in the short story competition. I enclose a cheque for £50’. Well, well, well. My first ever literature success. Well, it would be if I wasn’t reasonably sure that I was probably the only entrant. Shame I didn’t get second and third prize as well. The story - ‘Helter Skelter’ - was supposed to be read by several judges and a critique provided, that might have been more useful than the £50 prize.
Adam’s birthday passed in a feast of presents, activities, cakes and colours. In general, he behaved like a darling all day. He started modestly with his presents trying to look at each one but after a while found it impossible to slow down and there was always another present to run and get - a first metal Meccano, for example, which is too old for him but I still thought we could do some together; a Thunderbird model to make; some clay modelling material; and a box of magic tricks. Later Auntie Melanie gifted him a Thunderbirds video.
A and B went out for the day to the Barbican Centre where there were lots of activities for kids, shows and workshops, and they seemed to have a good time. In the evening, the entire family came over. Adam and Rebecca played around with giant balloons, then we had high tea and birthday cake, and Adam got to open yet more presents. Although he had some difficulty thanking people when he was opening them, he managed to be very polite and pleasant as they were leaving. My son five years old. How quickly they do grow.
17 19, Thursday 6 August 1992, London
After Linford Christie, UK athletics men’s team captain, won the 100 metres, it was only right that Sally Gunnel, women’s team captain should win her event - the 400 metres hurdles. But that’s the only gold we’ve won in days. In fact we’re not even winning many medals at all. Spain, France, Italy and of course Germany are all steaming out ahead of us among the West European nations.
And I have some bad news to report this Thursday afternoon. The English cricket team in the last and deciding test match against Pakistan are 205 for nine wickets. That wretched Wasim Akram has taken four or five wickets since I last turned on the radio half an hour ago. I still think we might win, but where from I don’t know. If there’s any play left on Monday, I will go to the Oval with Henry, Kenny, and John. We deserve a summer outing.
Bosnia turns into a blood bath. The Tito glue has finally come unstuck and the old, traditional ethnic tensions are out of the bag. Slovenia has escaped unharmed; Croatia is largely free of the turmoil; but the rest are a seething mess of warfare, killing, refugees and international impotence. Similarly, South Africa looks to be heading for serious trouble. Talks between the De Botha’s well-intentioned government and the ANC have broken down, sporadic violence spreads.
I finish Elmore Leonard’s ‘Maximum Bob’. Good. After the first two Leonard books I read, I was not so convinced of his talent, but ‘Maximum Bob’ was excellent. Superb characters, lovely dialogue, unusual and unpredictable plots. By contrast, I’ve started Ben Okri’s ‘The Famished Road’, winner of the 1991 Booker Prize, but find the style rather over-bearing and the content uninteresting, and the plot unduly boring.
Here in London it is a sunny evening. Perhaps I should go out somewhere. Where? with whom?
Sunday, August 9, 1992, Brighton
The Olympics are all but over. We have not done very well with but five gold medals. Spain and Hungary have scored impressive successes, while the Unified Team, the US, China and Germany have led the medal table. The whole extraordinary show ran smoothly but there were few world-shattering performances and few results that were really unexpected. I have enjoyed watching all the sports immensely - from running to table tennis, from canoeing to judo, from diving to handball - and when a Brit was taking part my body was physically tense; sometimes I could barely bring myself to watch, so anxious was I for their success. I do, however, think there are a thousand stories that haven’t reached me, through the BBC coverage or through the newspapers; theories about the use of drugs, the incentives being paid to Spanish athletes (half a million pounds for a gold, someone said), the organisational mechanisms - for the journalists, for the races themselves, for the whole business off camera. I would like more details about what the athletes get up to after their events; what goes on the Olympic village; and so on. I feel starved of behind-the-scenes stories.
And as for the cricket. No dearth of coverage there. As I write the last England wickets are falling and it is a struggle, not against defeat, for that is certain, but to save defeat by the margin of a whole innings.
Synchronicity exists. It certainly existed during a period of my twenties when Harold was my closest friend and confidant. Synchronous therefore that synchronicity should re-emerge at the point of my reunion with Harold after eight or ten years. I have known that Rosy has maintained a friendship with Harold through the years, seeing him perhaps once a year or so. And, earlier this year, I just missed a party at which Harold was present. It was little surprise, then, when Andy rang on Thursday to ask me round on Friday to a small soiree, the guest of honour being Harold. The synchronous aspect of the timing was simply that a few days earlier, as already noted, I received notification of my first ever literature prize. Harold, more than anyone perhaps, was responsible for encouraging me to develop my writing. I later came to realise that his uncritical praise, which initially proved to be such an important encouragement, was given to everybody and for everything, and was thus less worthwhile than it seemed in the first place. Nevertheless, without his belief in me, I may never have moved into creative writing. Mu was also important, but not so much through her belief in my ability - although her backing was important also - but more as a real and vital source of inspiration.
Harold has been living with a young French man for the last six years although I believe they have had numerous separations. Now begins another longer one. Harold leaves soon for the US to be near his mother, I think, and from there to Israel where there is a girl he may marry and have children with, or so he says. All very vague as usual. He hasn’t changed a jot I would say, maybe he is a little calmer. His boy, Jean-Luc, was very quiet the whole evening and seemed very submissive. He watched Harold all the time while he was performing (oh yes, H spent much of the evening performing in various guises) but never responded very warmly. And, during a game in which Rosy had us throw eggs around until they dropped, he always threw the egg, when he had it, to Harold. Afterwards, Harold said he was usually more buoyant, especially in French. He and Harold were staying with Patrick, he who I met long ago through Ros. He is now living just behind Safeway’s. I dropped Harold and Jean-Luc off there, but Harold stayed in the car and managed to open up history and we got to talking about our relationship. It was two in the morning, and I had left the motor running deliberately hoping it wouldn’t go on too long. But the car started overheating and I was obliged to turn it off. I spoke as one distant from the events under discussion, but he seemed to consider them still alive, and spoke meaningfully of being hurt by me. He was overjoyed at our reunion, and felt it was the start of rebuilding our relationship. Unfortunately, I recognised Harold’s sincerity as the same sincerity I knew of old, real but spread thin among an army of admirers. Maybe I’ll see him again, in a year’s time. Maybe not.
7 29, Thursday 13 August 1992, London
The passion flower, which has flowered so well, the honeysuckle and the Berberis darwinii have all gone mad with foliage growth. Even the tiny wisteria which has sat idly by, year after year, never growing and never dying, has suddenly come to life with a long winding stem. The apples look ready to pluck, they are huge and juicy. I’m afraid to leave them on the tree much longer for fear the branch will break or the maggots will win them all one by one. I look out my study window this mid-summer morning, it is bright but the rains we have had over the last few days are not yet gone. In the evenings I already notice darkness arriving earlier.
I have started a series of press-ups before yoga each day. My legs are exercised through riding the bicycle, and the yoga exercises body muscles, but I felt I needed something for the arms. After a ten day break from yoga while on holiday, I have been doing it consistently again for ten days and do definitely feel the benefits.
Shostakovitch Symphony 15 live from the Proms on the radio last night. What an entertaining composer he is. I feel sure the 21st century will come to recognise him as great a genius as Beethoven.
Rosy came round to see me yesterday. I hadn’t expected her dogs, and it was raining. Not only did they rush in and all around the house with their filthy feet, but Cuckoo, unbeknownst to me at the time, did an almighty poo, in several parts, across the living room. The smell was foul. I couldn’t help associating the mess with Rosy’s visit. She herself looked so unkempt, with her multicoloured hair falling down over her face and her tatty ill-fitting clothes. Oh it’s so unfortunate I don’t have much to say to her any more, like Harold. I don’t like much what she has become. I think she is far out of touch with reality, and I’ve never thought she was much good at clowning - she can’t subsume her own personality because she has no self-awareness.
I have made progress on the play for children I am writing. I reached a natural break which is about half way through and should make a good interval. However, I’ve very little idea as to how to fill up act two or how to ultimately resolve the problem about the forest. For the first time I can remember I am actually weaving in the writing of fiction, to a tight schedule, with my work and ordinary routines. I am managing to think about the plot occasionally, on my way to work, or while clearing up in the kitchen. But it is certainly not sufficient. When I come to sit down to write the next scene, I find that, more often than not, I don’t have a clear idea of what I’m going to put into it. So, I have to go and lie on the sofa in the lounge, or I might walk to the cemetery if I’ve time. I do, though, also just sit at the disk and stare into space; something one does in order to find the next series of words, but not something I have been able to do previously concerning plot development - I’ve always had to struggle a plot out in my mind before ever sitting down to begin writing.
20 54, Monday 17 August 1992, London
Still no word at FTBE about the editor-in-chief job. I look back in my diary and find it was four weeks ago that I was interviewed; and that was a month or so after I sent in my application form. I had planned to talk to John McLachlan in May or June about buying my own newsletters and now it is mid-August. Still I must sit tight. Others round the office are getting impatient too. It seems so unnecessary to take so long over informing us. Both options, I must confess, still scare me - that is buying my newsletters or being editor-in-chief. Both involve a radical upheaval in the routines of the last few years, and substantial commitment to a job or work that I don’t believe in much. But I suppose the worst option is to do nothing.
At the office, our busy schedule of newsletter productions gets under way after a summer break. But Henry has phoned in to say he is in bed with jaundice symptoms, and the Doc has told him to stay away from work for two weeks. Poor lad. His wedding is only three weeks off.
I ring Andy Gibb to check that he can come out to eat tomorrow with Raoul and I, and I discover from Tammy that his father died at the weekend. It’s taken him a mercifully short time to die - within a matter of months he moved from total fitness to cancer, heart attacks, and general degeneration. Trust Rosy to be out of the country. She’s gone to Los Angeles for Roneet’s wedding; Andy was to have gone too. Sensibly he decided to stay.
I see Colin, Hilde and their nine month old daughter Elisabeth at the weekend. They seem quite well on parenthood; totally devoted to their baby. She behaved well, not crying once while she was here. We talked about babies and Harold and went for a walk in the cemetery.
EARLY SCHOOL REPORTS
Mum must have been delving into her papers for she brought over my school reports from (the private) Lyndhurst School. They cover each term from when I was about 6 to 10. They show that, when I arrived, I was rather poor at most school work and in terms of discipline. Under Ms Oliphant I improved steadily. But when Ms Oliphant is no longer writing any reports (I suppose she left) my work deteriorated. Then I make a sudden spurt to become top of the class one term, when I am about 10, before dropping back in my last term. In general the school reports are rather negative, as though it is only worth writing a comment if it is a criticism. Even when I came top of the class the praise is grudging. Headmaster’s comment: ‘An encouraging report. I hope he will try to maintain his position.’ Form master’s comment: ‘A good term, Paul has worked seriously and tried to exploit his ability in all subjects. His general conduct is quite good, but is marred by a very quick and violent temper.’ This latter comment by a Mr Gilbert is typical of his barbed comments throughout the several years he was my form master. I’m surprised I have no memory of him. He quite seriously dislikes me and his criticisms follow no pattern vis: one term he says about my cricket I am excellent in the field; and the next he says, I am a useful batsman and bowler but I must learn to stay in my place in the field. In general, the reports make me think that it was very useful that my parents sent me to this private school where much more store was given to developing intelligence and self-discipline.
Saturday 22 August 1992, Brighton
A grey day. The fourth Texaco one day international started late because of rain. Pakistan are not doing that well. England won a tremendous victory last Thursday. I think they made the highest one day international total ever.
I am smarting from the intelligence, learned on Thursday, that it is almost certain I have not got the editor-in-chief job. I learned from Rosemary that there had been some talk of second interviews; and then I rang John, who was due to go away on holiday for a week. In a rather maudlin tone, he told me that a decision had not yet been made but was imminent - he himself was going to a meeting that evening - and would almost certainly be announced early next week i.e. when he’s away. On learning these facts, I didn’t immediately comprehend their import. The more I thought about it, of course, the more I realised that someone had been chosen, negotiations were under way and would be finalised that very evening. A memo would be drafted on Friday and then distributed on Monday.
On the whole, I think I have behaved rather coolly. Rumour and speculation around the office has had me shifting in the betting between first and second favourite. Despite my own feelings after the interview, I did allow myself, for a few days most recently, to believe the speculation and think I was in with a good chance In fact, earlier this week, just before I dug out the truth, I was more confident than ever. I was not in the office on Friday but I had just enough time on Thursday before I left to talk to Frank and pass on to him sufficient information. As the fountain of all speculation, he will certainly pass on the news that Paul hasn’t got the job far more effectively than I ever could.
But, where does this leave me. At the very moment I discovered these details, I was drafting a letter to John concerning the purchase of my newsletters. I suppose instinct had already told me too much time had passed without hearing anything, and that I had better prepare for the other thing. But starting my own business, running ‘EC Energy Monthly’ and, possibly EER as well, fills me with dread. The drudgery of it. My life is about to come to a horrible standstill. There is nothing I look forward to in the future at all. Nothing. Fortunately, I have a sound body and mind, I have the love of Barbara and Adam, and I have enough money not to worry about the immediate future.
The cricketers have gone off for bad light.
Sunday 23 August 1992, Brighton
I am about two-thirds the way through my children’s play, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to come up with fresh dialogue while at the same time sustaining plot and making it go somewhere, like towards a resolution. I must finish it next week, because I’ll need all of September to hammer it into shape. I read the first act to B who thought it good and quite funny. There is certainly an element of pantomime, but when writing for 5-8 year olds, the story has to be full of accessible characters and comic action. Both the plays for children that B and I can remember seeing - ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at the Gardner Centre and ‘Meg and Mog’ at the Unicorn Theatre in London - were not exactly pantomimes yet they were put on at Christmas.
I do fear that I have not threaded into the story any single theme, nor have I allowed room for any true character development, since the action takes place almost in real time. It’s too early to tell, how I’ll judge the finished product. I always hope and expect that, if I really try, I’ll be able to produce something excellent. The reality of course is something different and, as I sit and write, there are few choices, I just put down on paper what I can.
What a grey day. It started quite bright, so we snatched an hour or so at Devil’s Dyke flying Adam’s kite, but all afternoon it has been windy and rained. England lost the one day international in the last over. We only needed five runs to win, but Waqar Younis hit out Dermot Reeve’s off stump. Some controversy, though, over the ball. I’ll find out more tomorrow.
Monday 24 August 1992, Brighton
Restless days. Like the sea this morning, tossing up huge waves and crashing the ridges of pebbles and stones before it, tossing them and mixing them with myriad pieces of seaweed. It’s all about thinking. I try to get grips with the plot of the play - that’s pure thinking. Hard to do in a restful, peaceful way.
My body is never peaceful. To start with, it is always full of itches, especially my scalp, and hungers, sometimes sexual, sometimes for food, sometimes for movement; there’s always something of the kind disturbing each minute, each second. And then I also try to get to grips with what to do next in my working life. That’s pure thinking too.
There are so many permutations and I can find no neat, easy solutions to any of them. My logical, puzzle-loving brain hates the foggy messy compromises that must be made in daily life.
Take the simple problem of where to base any business venture I set up. Suppose, by some stroke of fortune I can reach a deal with FTBE over the purchase of EER and ECE. If Kenny were to come with the business then it would have to be based somewhere accessible from Brighton - I might then consider Brighton. But what about Henry. He’s just as likely to join the venture if Kenny does, indeed, I would feel happier about employing the two of them because they get on so well. Yet Henry lives in North London, so I can’t expect him to travel down to Brighton. But take out of the equation the complication of where Kenny and Henry live and just consider myself. I am quite clear that I would like to base my new business outside of London but I’d prefer not Brighton. Yet how can I can even think of a new location when I’ve already got commitments in Kilburn, Brighton and Brussels, and moving any of them will take a long time. Say I chose Petersfield, where Gerard is located, where would I stay while I started the business and got it going. I’ve been dreaming, I see. The only really viable options are in London, in Brighton, or possibly somewhere between - it might be practical, for example, to rent offices in East Croydon, if both Kenny and Henry were joining me. Right now we’re going to Haywards Heath to visit Borde Hill Gardens but I shall take a keen interest in the town, while I’m there - Hayward’s Heath being the other major stop on the line between London and Brighton.
17 47, Sunday 30 August 1992, London
Bank Holiday weekend. Strong winds and rain storms. There is a smell of creosote in the air because I’ve sprinkled the yard floor to get rid of the green algae sheen. This evening B and I go to the Albert Hall, for the second time this weekend, to see Mike Westbrook perform ‘Westbrook Rossini’. On Friday we went to a smashing concert of music selected around the theme of Spain. Most of it was lively and colourful - Falla’s ‘Nights in the Gardens of Spain’.
Having finished the draft of ‘King Top-of-the-World’, I am now reading it through, making corrections and style changes. Only now is it really beginning to dawn on me how difficult it is to write consistent dialogue for characters. I’m not sure that in any of my previous attempts at plays, I’ve really given enough attention to characterisation. There are mechanical means which help, such as giving certain words and expressions to particular characters, and one can also use style. But when it comes down to it, the bulk of what they say must fit in with who the person in the play is. I am thinking, that with this play, it might be wise to make a print-out of all the dialogue of one character and then read it through aloud. On the other hand, it is also true that dialogue can be treated and tailored in production. Some things are bound not to work, just as others will. I suppose the writing must be of a standard that rises above a certain barrier, one that convinces the director, and beyond which he is willing to work with the actors. In terms of characters in King Top-of-the-World, only one - Axlegrease - actually undergoes any sort of transformation. The main character Fred, is rather bland.
It transpires that both Kenny and Henry have gone down with Hepatitis A and will be off for a total of three weeks each. How they got it, no one can tell. Thus instead of having two nice easy weeks - last week and this one coming, I’ve got too much work. It seems that Henry may just be well enough to partake in his own wedding next Saturday. What bad luck, to get such an uncommon disease right next to his wedding. He won’t be able to drink that’s for sure, and he certainly won’t have much energy to enjoy the day. He’s going to tire so quickly - I know from personal experience, not of weddings but of hepatitis.
I’m reading two evolution books. Stephen Jay Gould’s latest collection of essays from ‘Natural History’ magazine; and ‘The Ant and the Peacock’ by Helen Cronin. Although, I didn’t realise it when I bought the latter, Cronin is on the opposite side of the fence from Gould as far as current Darwinian thinking goes. Gould’s essays are, as usual highly entertaining, though I sense he has developed a more academic and eclectic approach to research and writing them; and there are even touches of Borges in his ability to root out obscure facts and make quite esoteric connections between them. Cronin, on the other hand, is engaged in an intense struggle to justify the line of thinking developed by Richard Dawkins and his selfish gene. Indeed, Cronin works under Dawkins at Oxford University’s department of zoology (where Nilofer studied in fact).
International events in former Yugoslavia and in Iraq have hotted up in the last few days with a major conference in London on how to contain Serbia, and the setting up of a UN air exclusion zone in southern Iraq to protect the so-called marsh people, I think. Hurricane Andrew does widespread damage in southern United States. The plight of starving people in Somalia is much on the news also. There is no effective government there, apparently, and gang warfare predominates - the main aim of the gangs being to rob the food aid that arrives at ports and airports.
Paul K Lyons
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