My wife and I spent ten days backpacking through Syria in 1995. Former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig once described Syria as the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. We had our difficulties along the way. But in Damascus, I met a tailor who asked me to tell the world, Syrians love peace.
When mum opened the passenger door, the dog, named Jessie, jumped up and straight onto Mim's lap, licking and wagging her whole body. Mim had a huge smile on her face. 'Mae, look who's here!' The little dog jumped through the car and onto the kid's lap. Mae was a bit unsure. Jessie was full-on.
In June (2020), I published a memoir piece on Tall And True about my experience of doing the 22 Pushup Challenge for PTSD in 2016. I mentioned how I had struggled to do 22 pushups at the start. Four years on, when my younger brother nominated me for the 25 Pushup Challenge, I felt even more apprehensive.
In 2016, I took part in the 22 Pushup Challenge, 22 days of 22 pushups, with each day’s effort posted to Facebook. The goal was to raise awareness of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on returned service personnel. At the start, I struggled to do 22 pushups and knew little about PTSD.
The writer John Banville observed, "Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don't think we remember the past, we imagine it." I have vivid memories of my early childhood (I believe they're memories, not imagination), which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge on social media caught my eye.
It was a flight of fancy, inspired by a newspaper ad: "Moscow and St. Petersburg, 7 nights with Jules Verne Travel". It sounded exotic, impossible. But this was 1993, Leningrad was St. Petersburg again, Boris Yeltsin was Russian President, Russia was opening up. Glasnost made all things seem possible.