Wednesday, April 06, 2016

That In Aleppo Once or Twice...

E@L's father was a damn good cricketer. E@L's No1 son is a damn good cricketer when his back and his knee don't take him down. E@L was a damned cricketer, and a laughing stock on occasion (wrong shoes for turf, slipped over when delivering the first ball, etc...).

For the 1952-53 season, E@L's dad won the batting averages for the PMG (Post-Master General, now split into Australia Post and Telecom) cricket team in a town in country Victoria. No doubt a social level competition. But hey. E@L's son has more information on his cricketing prowess. On one particularly splendid day he bowled out the other team almost single-handedly, and then won the match with his batting - 106 not out!

They gave a him book, called Dust On My Shoes, by Peter Pinney. It was published in 1948 by the great Australian house of Angus and Robertson (still going on) and purchased at a salubrious bookstore named Cowans Newsagent in the lakeside town of Colac. (Where E@L was born.) The story is of a young Australian man, something of a rake E@L gathers, making his way, single-handed, across the Middle East and South Asia, from Greece to Burma just after the end of WWII. E@L hasn't read the book, though as a child he always wondered at in his mother's small library (the remnants of his father's, he presumes, plus some childhood books for E@L's sister) and was particularly entranced by the photos. His late father-in-law had read it, and given it the thumbs up. How it got to his place is unknown. No1 son?)

Opposite the title page of his dad's prize copy is a photograph of Pinney looking from a window in the Great Citadel of Aleppo, in Syria, a view that show a minaret, the large dome of a mosque, five smaller domes on the structure next to it, and the city in the distance. It looks dusty, and E@L bets it was.


Interestingly, the photograph of Pinney in the window has been reversed, presumably for symmetry's sake. The actual view from a vantage similar to that window is this:


Aleppo is having the crap bombed out of it during the current Syrian civil[sic] war. E@L thought the view might be different now, for obvious reasons so he did the G thing, (search "Aleppo bombing" - there's no need for E@L to show them here). He saw photos of destroyed houses, dead babies, men screaming, rubble on the streets from smashed houses, terrified children running, massive bursts of earth, fire, and stone from bombs caught at the instant of exploding, grieving fathers holding their dead children on their laps, blood-stained cobbled streets, burnt-out vehicles, exhausted refugees squatting with stacks of their belongings at the side of the road. Humans in the midst of a modern tragedy, the weapons of mass and individual destruction built and supplied by our countries of course. Horrifying, heart-breaking, unnecessary, and completely avoidable. We are a fucked species.


Anyway, he found this:

Wondering if this is indeed the same mosque - those smaller domes smashed, the minaret luckily intact - and thinking he should read that book is


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