12 June 2013

A Surprising Robin Hood

Robin Hood

A little more freckled, I’m back from my sojourn at Mslexia.  And it’s time to see who or what has inhabited this space in my absence. 

I’ve flung open the curtains and windows of my blog and allowed an unseasonably cool June draught to surge through.  It all looks unfamiliar here.  After the comfortably sociable Mslexia spot – where the neighbours were chatty and a friendly jingle on the comments door would signal the arrival of a newcomer – this a lonelier place.

I’ve been up inspecting the blog’s attic and down in its basement to see what has withered or pushed up through cracks, what is salvageable and what needs to be flung.  There’s a suspicious stain close to the margin, some random words in a sorry heap and a half-eaten idea about horses and precipices. 

And nowhere certain, yet, to park the phrase the need to move tables that I’ve transported back as a souvenir of three months away.  It will function as a wheedling instruction to get on with writing a song about furniture removal.

As a curio collected on my travels, this scrap of paper with its five words may appear slight, but my feeling is that it’s probably going to be as potent as the Robin Hood you can see pictured at the top of this post.  Yes, correct, he’s not the Robin of Sherwood Forest.  Nor England.  Nor even Europe, for that matter.

But let me explain. 

One day three years ago, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, my partner and I were on the trail that leads from Imlil to Mount Toubkal.  It had never been our intent to slog all the way to the summit, but we’d been impelled by the breath-taking scenery to walk further along the path than planned and were now taking a break in a crumpled heap under the shade of an overhanging rock, contemplating heading back down.

An English couple approached us on the path from the opposite direction.  ‘Don’t give up just yet,’ they advised.  ‘There’s a little village twenty minutes ahead where you can get a drink.’

We trudged on.  Sure enough, gradually, improbably, a tiny camouflaged settlement appeared, clinging to the rocks, complete with mosque, café, and colourful rugs and shawls for sale, all fluttering in the breeze.

A hidden village!

A twenty-something Moroccan man with excellent English immediately took us under his wing, ushering us with the smooth assurance of an event planner to the small café where he snapped fingers for the service of refreshing mint tea, then to the stalls of his cousin selling carpets and Berber carvings.  I was captivated by the figurines – and one in particular who stood with pointed head and ring-hole ears like a tough pint-sized warrior.  The bartering began, but only half-heartedly as I lacked the energy to drive a hard bargain.

Soon the figurine was in my hands.  I was pleased.  The seller was pleased.  Our young guide was pleased.

‘What’s your name?’  I asked him.

‘Robin Hood,’ he replied.

And so, the feisty little Berber carving that I brought home and then stood on a chest of drawers was named in honour of the Moroccan who was disarmingly honest and upfront about precisely what he was up to. 

Perhaps, then, the best location for my new cut-up souvenir phrase, the need to move tables, is exactly as I've  now decided to place it -  captured and preserved in the photo below, at the feet of the beguiling north-African Robin Hood who, with his wide-eyed stare and defiant stance, will forever ward off mischief-makers.

While I get on with the work at hand.  After all, there’s still a pile of unpacking and a load washing to do.

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