Showing posts from July, 2010


We were in Dubrovnik at the weekend and, wandering around the old town, I spotted a sign for the Museum of Icons. We gave it a miss. I'm well aware that religious icons are a genuine point of faith for many people but, generally speaking, they don't do it for me on either an artist or spiritual level. But today my head was turned by this cultural icon that seemed somewhat out of place in a Mostar scrap yard.

An ethical dilemma.

This morning a friend was saying how their mother had been taken ill with a serious problem requiring surgery. However, once in the hospital, they discovered the doctor wouldn't operate without receiving what could euphemistically be referred to as 'a little something for coffee'. That this salary-augmenting 'something' would comfortably keep him in three coffees a day for three months might be seen as a little in conflict with the Hippocratic oath. Apparently different doctors require different amounts to get them out of bed. This one wanted in excess of half the average monthly wage. I have my own complaints about the UK's National Health Service based on painful personal experiences but I never had to pay back-handers for the questionable care I received. Here it seems this is not a uncommon situation. If your mother needed an operation which could be the difference between her living or dying and her health was being held ransom by a corrupt medic what wo

Cabin Fever?!

At the beginning of the month I wrote about our Novi Most 'camping' trip up Jahorina, one of the Olympic mountains outside Sarajevo. We had a great time as this short video shows...


I was gearing up for a light-hearted, hopefully humorous, blog this evening when tragedy struck; tragedy of the genuinely numbing, incomprehensible kind. We'd turned up to prepare to an evening of youth work at Klub Novi Most to discover that one of our new regulars this summer had had an accident swimming in the Neretva in the afternoon. We were told he'd got an electric shock and was in hospital. He had been in Klub this morning, his usual energetic self; full of wide-eyed enthusiasm whether it was playing table tennis, pulling faces or practising his rock'n'roll poses with an unplugged guitar in front of the mirror. About halfway through the evening a tearful girl burst through the door to deliver what in that split second had become painfully obvious news. He had died. Nobody wanted to believe it. In my mind all I could see was replays of him laughing and joking and making fun of me during this morning's session. 'Why?' and 'No!' fought to be

No Time To Say Goodbye

Almost a fortnight ago I blogged about a particularly poignant songwriting commission I'd received. Two weeks later that song – No Time To Say Goodbye - is written, recorded and, with the obligatory music video, now ready to tell its story wherever the world wide web may take it. Life is, as you're doubtless aware, not quite so simple as those last two sentences imply. That I have produced a recording and video featuring both of the young people it was written for is a testimony to the the shifting sands of bureaucratic time frames, the importance of sometimes just acting on impulse and of what can be achieved if you are prepared to sacrifice a little sleep. Both Sting and Craig David have songs called 'Seven Days'; this song was turned around in four. It was early evening on a Monday when I picked up my freshly restrung Telecaster and started strumming out some chords. Suddenly I hit something that I knew would be the basis of this song. Very quickly the genesis of a m

Football and friendship

We've just spent a few days up a mountain running a summer camp for a group of young people who are involved in Novi Most's centres in Mostar and Capljina. The previous post mentioned how we'd been telling visitors about how Novi Most is successfully bringing together young people from across Bosnia and Herzegovina's different ethnic groups. The camp was proof again that this is neither propoganda or wishful thinking; it is a reality. I could pick on a number of encouraging incidents to illustrate this but perhaps the most humourous came this morning when a young lad pulled up his sleeve to show me some freshly penned inscriptions. Football fans will recognise that you would not normally expect to see "TM87", "Hajduk" and "Partizan" all 'tattooed' on the same forearm. I know one boy writing the name of big teams from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia on his arm doesn't necessarily constitute a reconciliation revolution but it does demo

Yesterday's News

Yesterday was a day for stirring the grey matter. It started with Rowan discovering The Guardian had a front page article about Mostar - online at least. It charted the story of War Child and mentioned the establishing of the Pavarotti Centar here in Mostar. Rowan visited the Centar a week or so back to see about getting help repairing a violin. The story she heard there was not a happy one; no money, few young people involved making music. You didn't get this side of the story from the article. Coins have but two sides; stories, it seems, can be as multi-faceted as a well cut diamond. I don't know if this adds to their beauty. The longer we live in Bosnia Herzegovina the more we learn to see every new bit of information as just another aspect of a big picture we'll never fully understand. Anyone claiming to have a handle on exactly what went on and why probably has some agenda they're trying to push. From our perspective, parts of The Guardian's article were cl