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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Reeds shaken, not stirred

Coincidences happen all the time.

Yesterday, I dug out a pile of old Traveller magazines with the intention of off-loading them. I need to make room! I put them to one side to browse through at another time.
Today, I plucked from a bookshelf my old copy of A Reed Shaken by the Wind by Gavin Maxwell (1957), my paperback a rather tired reprint from 1966. I’d read it long ago but not since; however, I plan to re-read it for research on a current book I’m working on, To Be King. A certain fantasy place in Floreskand – Taalland – has several similarities with the marshland between Baghdad and Basra, occupied by the marsh Arabs of Iraq, the Ma’dan.  In 1991 Saddam Hussein ordered the draining of the marshes and they became a desert, displacing thousands (see Wikipedia here).

Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the marshes have gradually been restored, though it’s uncertain whether they will completely recover.

Maxwell's book title is taken from the Bible, Matthew Chapter 11, verse 7). Maxwell died in 1969, aged 55.

Later today. Back to the Traveller magazines. I browsed through all of them and found in the Summer 2004 issue (cover shown) a one-page excerpt from A Reed Shaken by the Wind! Of all the travel books in the world, I encountered this today. Coincidence. Life’s full of them.
If you’re wondering about the Tintin cover, there’s an article that mentikons the major exhibition ‘The Adventures of Tintin at Sea’ held at the National Maritime Museum in 2004. Interestingly, until very late in the young reporter’s life, his creator HergĂ© was an armchair traveller, utilising the National Geographic as source material, among others.  HergĂ© died in 1983, aged 75.



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