Travel Challenge – The Results

You kindly followed me through ten days of travel pictures, guessing where each one might be. I thought I’d put you out of your collective miseries/make you punch the air with a ‘Yes, I was right’ with a follow up.

Day One was

which is South Beach Miami. I was there with the Textiliste, pictured, for a conference back in the early noughties. One thing, in particular, stands out from that trip which I wrote about in December 2015, prompted by the then US Presidential candidate – one Donald J Trump – commenting on his plans to treat refugees. This I linked to one of my father’s letters to my mother, which he wrote, aged 19 in 1946 while part of the British troops in the then Palestine, trying and failing to keep a kind of peace between the indigenous Arab population and the Jewish settlers and refugees desperate to leave a Europe which offered them no good memories. I repeat that post here, as it has both a resonance and may be of some interest.

BTW, apart from the serious subject matter below, South Beach is a glorious nonsense of a place with some delightful Art Deco features, as well as these extraordinary life guard be-wheeled sheds. It’s worth a visit, which is more than can be said for the rest of Miami, an appalling example of cultural and intellectual liposuction at work – and yes, I’m a snob and a sneery Brit and I really don’t mind at all that that is to be my burden.

An Echo From My Father

My Father wrote thus to my mother on 11th April 1946 after he’d been sent on board a ship of Jewish refugees then recently arrived in Haifa:

Tuesday:  I told your mother {my maternal grandmother} in a letter that I didn’t like this immigrant catching. I wouldn’t dare say this to the rest of the chaps – they’d think I was getting soft, but I can’t help feeling sorry for some of these illegals. After all, they are only looking for a home where they can live in peace and they are a very pitiful sight when they are taken off the ships. Hollow-cheeked women, terrified children and life-weary men are not quite my mark. I don’t mean that they are ill-treated – those stories are just terrorist propaganda – but their disappointment at being made to go to Cyprus is heart rending…. I would prefer chasing terrorist gunmen.

Dad, for those newish to this blog, spent 1945 and 1946 in what was then Palestine (see the tabs above for his Letters from Palestine) as part of the British Protectorate between the end of WW2 and Partition when modern Israel was created under the auspices of the UN. Desperate Jewry, fleeing the Holocaust and the aftermath of the war took whatever boats they could to try and enter Palestine which the British troops were charged with stopping and sending back either to mainland Europe or to Cyprus.

The similarity with the current refugee crisis is stark. The impact awfully similar. The horrors just as real. Yet a short few weeks after the crisis was the headline we are now served up a daily dose of the latest fear: terrorist infiltration, potential repeats of Paris hidden away amongst the real refugees; the need to bomb cities and towns in Syria to ‘make us safer’ and, no doubt increase the flood of refugees; the spread of the Daesh Caliphate to western Afghanistan; the stronger and more rigorous fencing in Bulgaria and Calais. And still the refugees arrive in camps and across borders.

And then, today, I listened with horror to an American Presidential candidate suggesting internment for Muslims, along similar lines to how the German and Italians in the UK and the Japanese in America were interned during WW2.

Have we not learnt? Do we think this works? How much resentment do we want to cause?

Most other candidates have decried the man. Can we not focus on the people at the heart of this crisis? Can we not hold ourselves to a higher standard than a return to the policies of the 1930s and 40s? We tried it then, as my father’s letters testify, and it didn’t work. Why would it work today? Do we think these people are any less desperate than the immigrants flocking to leave Europe post WW2?

I was reminded, when looking out some pictures for a challenge this week, of a trip I took to South Beach, Miami; one of those conferences that I undertook as a lawyer which have blended in my memory with all other conferences, like a Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s ice cream: a meld of flavours that it is almost impossible to discern one from the other. But this one did leave me with one seared memory: its memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.


Don’t let us need to build this again.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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12 Responses to Travel Challenge – The Results

  1. Well, Geoff, you have taken the Travel Challenge to new heights. That link with your father’s letter is superb.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. V.M.Sang says:

    I am immensely saddened that we haven’t learned anything from the past. humanity seems destined to go on repeating and repeating the same mistakes, but with ever increasing firepower and misery.
    Your father’s letter is, or should be, a reminder of what happened.
    And who on Earth thought a 2 nation state would work?


  3. Mary Smith says:

    Humans never learn, do we?


  4. trifflepudling says:

    If there was an easy answer to the refugee issue, it would’ve happened by now and so we are destined to repeat the same situations over again. You make one group of people safe, you upset another group. So you can only keep trying to help.
    Did you watch the series ‘Don’t forget the Driver’ with Toby Jones. Interesting and touching.


  5. Gwen M. Plano says:

    Your final photo says it all. When will we learn that we are family? Somehow we must keep building bridges… Blessings on us all.


  6. Beautiful post, Geoff. Happy New Year to you and yours.


  7. Elizabeth says:

    With climate change no place will be free of the refugee issue. I am touched by the poignancy in your dad’s letter. I didn’t see that statue when I was in Miami, though I did enjoy the diversity in Miami itself. So not all white!


  8. Neil MacGregor’s 101st object “Another special programme was broadcast on 25 December 2020. Neil MacGregor and a roundtable of guests discussed adding a 101st object to represent how the world has changed in the past decade since the end of the original series. The objects ultimately chosen were the British Museum’s collection of ‘Dark Water, Burning World’ sculptures by Syrian-British artist Issam Kourbaj. They depict small, fragile boats filled with matchsticks – representing the plight of refugees of the Syrian Civil War in particular and migrants in general.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s a very moving memorial, I too hope we don’t need to build it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. willowdot21 says:

    Very sombering Geoff. Well said .💜

    Liked by 1 person

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