Category Archives: Travel writing

Don’t Feed the Animals


Most icebergs are white, while some are dirty grey or cobalt, and in exceptional circumstances they’re emerald green. Few are crimson though, but the one I’m looking at now is.

My tent is pitched between fingers of rounded rock, in a mossy hollow overlooking the bay. There are a lot of icebergs down there and in the setting sun they all begin to turn red, but that’s just a writer’s conceit. They turn dusky pink, or sometimes glow vermilion, but never true red, until tonight, but the sun isn’t the artist responsible.

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scrap yard

‘Take the shot, always take the shot’. My former art tutor’s words came back to me and they seemed made for this moment. But I just stood there holding the camera, watching my ‘prey’ and wondering again if he was right.

Once, the Inuit man opposite might have been an Elder, now he was just elderly. Clad in moon-boots, down jacket and baseball cap, he stumbled through the wreckage of untold lives here at Sisimiut town dump, Greenland. He shoved his dogsled through the broken washing machines, jagged bottles and disposable nappies, stopping occasionally to retrieve another fragment of someone else’s life and heap it on board. He reminded me of one of those prehistoric corpses preserved in a peat bog, whose inscrutable faces take on a mahogany sheen and a kind of fatalistic indifference. He continued on his way, straining at the sled, peering into the setting sun and muttering to himself, or ‘chuntering’ as people would say back in Yorkshire. If the sled had been a shopping trolley, then he’d have been the archetypal lost soul.

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