52 weeks – August 5, 2012


Oleander, Jacaranda, by Penelope Lively. A memoir of her life growing up in pre-war Egypt. The book describes her childhood impressions of times and places and fills those out with what she came to know as an adult:

I have tried to recover something of the anarchic vision of childhood – in so far as any of us can do such a thing – and use this as the vehicle for a reflection on the way in which children perceive. I believe that the experience of childhood is irretrievable. All that remains for any of us, is a headful of brilliant frozen moments, already dangerously distorted by the wisdoms of maturity.

The impressions of Cairo and Alexandria are glorious and romantic, albeit seen from the perspective of the privileged child of an expatriate family:

The Alexandria of the 1930s and 1940s survives now only in my mind, and in the minds of others. Most of whom knew it a great deal better than I did. For I did not know it at all, I realize, more than I knew Cairo in any real sense. Much of it I never even saw — the densely populated slum quarters to the west of the city, the labyrinthine streets of downtown Alexandria, tucked behind the boulevards and shops. It was not one city, but half a dozen, in which people moved on different planes, segregated by class and culture. And for me there was the further segregation of childhood. My Alexandria was a sybaritic dream. Peanuts in a paper cone, eaten on the Corniche. The suck and whoosh of the sea at the Spouting Rock. The milky-green curve of a surfing wave. The cool grip of a chameleon. Pistachio ice-cream. Macaroons. A medley of allusions, which add up now to a place which no longer exists in any sense at all.


Pesto goat cheese panino at The Outpost Café on Fraser Street. With the homemade unsweetened iced tea.


Three Row Barley, a lively Celtic folk group, playing the Friday night concert in Deep Cove. Hear them here.

The Concerts in the Cove are a series of free outdoor concerts through July and August. There are similar summer concerts at other locations in North Vancouver, but you can’t beat the Cove backdrop.


1 thought on “52 weeks – August 5, 2012

  1. You don’t often read literature about or from Egypt in America so I might pick this up. I was just talking about this with my team teacher this morning. My 9th graders may be reading a book called, “Walking Across Egypt” and she thought it would be about Egypt and thought that was exciting, but it isn’t. BOO! I will recommend this one to her as well, thank you.

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