Recent book publications and freelance journalism.

 

Books:

           

 

 

 

Reporting from Palestine 1943 - 44, by Barbara Board, Five Leaves Publications. ISBN 978-1- 905512- 32 – 4, February 2008.

 

Barbara Board was a published travel writer and journalist for the Daily Sketch and the Daily Mirror in the 1930s and 40s. Working first as Middle East correspondent for the Sketch, then as War Correspondent for the Daily Mirror, she cabled home stories on political events and daily life in the Palestine Mandate during World War II and during the critical post-war period that lead to the 1948 creation of Israel.

 

Her first two books on the Middle East were published in the 1930s by Michael Joseph. She also left two unpublished manuscripts behind her when she died in 1986. I have now edited the first, a month-by-month reflection on the deteriorating situation in the Mandate, first from small town Palestine, then from the front line of conflict in Jerusalem. I have also tracked down illustrations as well as descendants of people she mentioned....

 

           

            Extract:

“Beneath me in the hotel[1] there lived a variety of pioneers and refugees. Their doyenne, Old Ma Dubrowsky, had come from Poland to eke out her lingering years in the land of Zion. She would sit each afternoon on one of the lower balconies, wrapped in her lemon shawl, thinking of snow-swept Warsaw, as she gazed on the hot shadowless road. Kurt[2], who owned the hotel, came from Vienna. He was shaven-headed, squat and tireless. I would see him carrying bedsteads to the smithy for repair, fetching fish and vegetables. His one pleasure was tea, milkless and stale; the longer it had been stewing in the saucepan on the primus the better he liked it. Ruth, a taut girl in her late twenties, who helped with the hotel work, was from Transylvania. She had married a Jew with a Palestinian passport in order to enter the country and was in the process of divorcing him – a simple enough procedure under rabbinical law.

                        In the daytime, the hotel seemed to drowse in the heat. The desultory clatter of china from the kitchen and the slam of a door were like electric shocks in that sleepy atmosphere. At night, the character of the building changed. The tiled corridors echoed to the tramp of army boots as British soldiers on leave stopped for a few hours in what seemed like a little oasis in the dun expanse of the Sharon plain.

            It was said that those who came to Hadera always returned, as if the place held a charm, a fascination from which one never wholly recovered. Fascination there was, even for those who did not delve beneath the surface beauty of the trim white villas, the green banana fronds, the cerise splashes of bougainvillea, all clearcut under a cloudless sky from which the sun burnt down with steady fury. That was the physical picture; but beneath, there was something deeper which provided the fascination for me – a legacy of the pioneer spirit of half-a-century ago which had stamped on Hadera the imprint of hard-won success against tremendous odds. There was no lack of character about the village – a quality missing from many of the more recently constructed Jewish settlements. The people bore themselves proudly, as if all the time they were conscious of the achievements of their forefathers, who had carried out one of the most successful colonising experiments in Palestine long before the Jewish Agency had been established by the Zionists.

            Because of this I found it all the more difficult to understand why these villagers were now allowing politics to seep into their daily lives and disrupt the comparatively even tenor of their way. Unwittingly, official Zionist propaganda was changing the character of the village, fostering dissatisfaction and encouraging demonstrations against the Government. In a more clandestine way the forces of unofficial militant Zionism were at work, gaining supporters for the Jewish terrorist gangs who regarded themselves not as terrorists but as soldiers of a resistance movement deserving as much admiration and recognition as the troops of Marshal Tito or the patriots of the Maquis.

            How hard it was to reconcile these facts with the bland smiling face of the village, to know that in the midst of the peace and contentment some house would be harbouring a member of the gangs – a Stern man or a “soldier” of the National Military Organisation (NMO) – who, securely hidden, was planning the next blow he would strike against the Mandatory Power. How incompatible the realisation that, as the sunlit days drifted on, families in the village would be forced to surrender hard-won savings to emissaries from those gangs in order to provide them with funds. Yet without such underground help the gangs could not function.

            Looking over my roof parapet in the clear bright noon, thoughts of terrorism seemed wildly out of harmony with the picture beneath me. White villas, banana fronds – my mind wanted to butterfly away from the fact that it was April 1943, that little more than a year had passed since the Stern gang, the self-styled Fighters for the Freedom of Israel[3] had perpetrated one of their most cold-blooded outrages in the streets of Tel Aviv. Prior to that the gang had been conducting a series of successful bank robberies and had swiftly extended its list of wealthy Jews who could be blackmailed or coerced into providing funds. Many who refused to succumb to blackmail had been kidnapped and held to ransom.”

 

Tie-in features by Jacqueline Karp:

May 2008 edition of Saga Magazine: “A Woman at War”, http://saga.inbro.net/seeinsidebrochure/SAGA-Magazine_May-2008/The-features/A-woman-at-war-...-Barbara-Board/pages_90-91

Spring 2008 edition of Bridges, Illinois University Press: “Editing my Mother, the Journalist Barbara Board” http://bridgesjournal.org/

 

 

Tie-in features by other journalists:

Daily Mirror, July 19 2008,  “Our Woman in Palestine”, by Matt Roper

Also by Nicola Rayner in Dorset Echo August 2007 and Jean-Phiippe Belhache in Sud Ouest, April 2008

 

 

 

 

Freelance journalism: I specialise in literary articles, life in France and travel features.

 

Recent Articles on France:

            LEISURE:

            Summer on the Canal de l’Ourcq” (French News, July 2008) http://www.french-news.com/content/view/3906/130/lang,en/

 

           

            “Art Deco Swimming. Taking a dip in France’s cultural heritage” (France Magazine, May 2008)

 

            Extract:

 

You’ve done the Quartier Latin and window-shopped in the “BoulMich’”... You’ve gazed in wonder at Notre Dame. Feet hurting? Don’t flop into yet another café. Slip over the little bridge by the cathedral’s east end and walk up to the Boulevard St Germain. Cross over. In narrow rue Pontoise, you’ll find a glass and brickwork façade catching the last of the afternoon sun.

It says Club Quartier Latin on the door but Pontoise is the name people use. Step inside. Forget the fitness centre. Make for the pool. The individual changing cabins are on the surrounding coursives (galleries, literally gangways). This gives Pontoise a nautical air common to many Parisian swimming pools.

      Don’t rush to undress. Take a moment to admire the mosaic patterns on the pillars. Gaze down on the sun’s rays slanting through the tiered glass roof, rippling the ice blue surface. Juliette Binoche’s therapeutic swim in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours Blue was shot right here. Too late for the sun? Enjoy a late night session, with spotlights playing on the water. Either way, Pontoise is magic.

 

            ENVIRONMENT:

            I am a correspondent for French News (mostly Charente-Maritime, but also Paris and environmental issues outside my département.) Here are some of the issues I have been covering:

 

            1.  The proposed methane gas terminal at the mouth of the Gironde:  

            - “Liquid gas report out but no terminal solution yet”; “Mirage for real in the estuary” (French News, March 2008)

            - “Methane terminal gets amber light.” (French News, June 2008)

            - Interviews with politicians and 4Gas chairman Jonkman, July 2008 : http://www.french-news.com/content/view/3852/211/lang,en/

 

            2.  Bypass problems in Talmont St.Hilaire, Vendée. “Bypass may split nature reserve”:

             http://www.french-news.com/content/archivecategory/0/9/63/2008/6/1/lang,en/

 

            3. “Organic contamination in the Deux-Sèvres.”

 

            4. Government refusal of national nature reserve status for the Marais Poitevin “Marshlands in a mire”

            https://www.french-news.com/content/archivecategory/0/9/54/2008/4/1/lang,en/

 

 

Other French News articles:

Xavier Bertrand speaks to the UMP at Bordeaux, July 2008: http://www.french-news.com/content/view/3947/55/lang,en/

 

 

            LITERARY ARTICLES

 

I write regularly for New Standpoints, a cultural magazine for teachers of English in France. http://www.newstandpoints.com/

 

My most recent feature for them was:

- “Arctic Literature: Dreams of Reality” (“When we think of the Arctic, we think of The Call of the Wild or Nanook of the North...but today’s literature does not easily match our imagined places or stereotypes.” (New Standpoints, May 2008)

 

Other recent subjects include: "Literature of the Mexico-U.S. Border", February 2006, “Class file: Church and State in the US” May 2006, worksheets for Keat’s Ode to Autumn September 2007, Irish literature, December 2007,  and contemporary African literature in English “Out of Africa: the linguistic dilemma”:

 

              Extract: “When the problem for Black African writers was “first catch your editor”, Chinua Achebe created a haven for them: the now deceased Heinemann’s “African Writers Series”. He published Mandela, Peter Abrahams, Ngugi, Soyinka, but also Senghor, Lessing, and Mahfouz. Recently, in an English county library, I was directed to the “African-Caribbean interest” section and found all the black authors there. I returned to General Fiction and found Lessing, Gordimer, Brink and Coetzee. This is an ostrich and egg situation with which Ngugi might well sympathize, but which totally contradicts Coetzee’s Egudu. Does it, sadly, assume the readership for black African literature is only black? Or does it finally provide what Wainana begs for, literature with which an African readership can truly identify?” 

 

I am currently working on a feature on Australian literature for the September 2008 issue.

 

Other literary publications:

 

Book Reviews:

In September 2006, I sat down and read the 800-page mammoth novel in which World War II is seen through the eyes of an SS officer, Les Bienveillantes, by American writer Jonathan Littell. It took me a month. In November, it won the Goncourt Prize and I wrote a series of essays on the book.

1. Eureka Literary Magazine, (Eureka College, Illinois), an essay on Jonathan Littell and Norman Manea, comparing their attitudes to language. August 2007

Jonathan Littell’s  Les Bienveillantes in London Magazine ( January 2007), Quadrant (Australia) http://quadrant.org.au/php/article_view.php?article_id=3440  and Northwest Review (US), both in June 2007.

 

- Review of L.P. Harvey's Muslim Spain 1500 - 1612, Chicago University Press, 2005 in London Magazine. This groundbreaking study of the last century of coexistence of Christian and Muslim communities in the Iberian Peninsula has lessons for us all today. 

 

- For Agni, Boston University’s literary review:

           

            “A Tale of Two Paintings: Orhan Pamuk and Turkey’s troubled identity.”

            “An Exchange of History Lessons.” Both at : www.bu.edu/agni/essays-reviews/index.html

 

 

RECENT TRAVEL WRITING:

 

-  “Kaleidoscope”, an account of a train journey from Boston to New York, Nashwaak Review, Canada, Summer 2007. 

            Extract:

“As we pull out of Boston on the 9.40 train that will hug the coast as far as Washington, slowly, slowly through the centre and then out into the suburbs, the familiar wolf-like howl wails across the city. How many times have  I stood and watched coach upon coach, truck upon truck, crawl across vast expanses of Nebraska or through empty downtown Orlando or across the wheat fields of Alberta, and been moved almost to tears by the train's plaintive cry?  Now, if I press my ear to the window, I can hear it through the sealed double-glazing, faintly, but

it is there and, this time, I am part of it.”

 

            Summer on the Canal de l’Ourcq” (French News, July 2008) http://www.french-news.com/content/view/3906/130/lang,en/

 

RECENTLY PUBLISHED POETRY ( see also poetry section)

“Found in Translation”, poetry sequence on Romania, Scintilla, March 2007

“Caged in” in Scintilla, March 2006

"Building the Alder Fence", in Poetry Nottingham Issue 59 / 4, February 2006

“Lunch in the Jewish Town Hall, Prague”, Never Bury Poetry, Summer 2006

 

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[1] The building still exists, some fifty meters down the same street as the museum. It has been restored and serves as a Yemenite restaurant, but the penthouse is still on the roof. (NR)

[2] Nina Rodin remembers Kurt Lindenbaum as a conditor from Vienna, who came to Hadera in the early 1930s, when Hitler came to power. Mr. Lindenbaum rented the first floor of the building, and opened one of the first conditoreis in Hadera. In those days, housewives baked their family needs. It wasn't customary to buy things you could do at home...But since a new population with urban habits had started flowing in, he could make a living.

[3] In Hebrew: Lohamei Herut Israel, abbreviated to “Lechi” or “Lehi”; founded by Avraham Stern in September 1940; called Stern Gang or Group by the British.