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The silver reliquary of St Nicholas [in Bari] ...has for nine centuries consistently exuded a liquid Holy Manna of such purity as to be indistinguishable from the purest spring water." (The Lagoon: 30) Venice. It is a great pleasure to write the word; but I am not sure there is not a certain impudence in pretending to add anything to it. Venice has been painted and described many thousands of times, and of all the cities of the world is the easiest to visit without going there. Rusbridger, Alan (10 July 2006). "Courage Under Fire". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 August 2013 . Retrieved 12 March 2010.

World tourism since the 70s has increased from 200 million people to 1,500 million people and I think cities like Venice or Paris have probably individually seen a similar quantitative increase. Do you think there is a “new” Venice, made up of tourists and tourist services, superimposed on what Venice was, say 50 years ago - that it is a kind of double place where it used to be a single entity? For example I have seen places that double/triple their population due to some event like a festival for a few days, what a change for the town! But in the case of Venice the change might be permanent … He slipped into journalism at 16 on the Western Daily Press in Bristol. Colour blindness prevented him from joining the navy during the second world war, so he signed for the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers and a commission as intelligence officer, celebrating his 21st birthday onboard a troop train from Egypt to Palestine. “I knew life was going to be OK. At last, in the army of all places, I felt I was free.” After demob, he worked in Cairo for a news agency, read English at Christ Church, Oxford, and edited Cherwell magazine. Morris's 1974 best-selling memoir Conundrum documented her transition and was compared to that of transgender pioneer Christine Jorgensen ( A Personal Autobiography). Later memoirs included Herstory and Pleasures of a Tangled Life. She also wrote many essays on travel and her life, and published a collection of her diary entries as In My Mind's Eye in 2019. [36]One of the book’s more moving moments takes place at the Accademia bridge, along the Grand Canal, when Morris is still living as James. Passing by one day, Morris puts some money in the hands of an old blind woman who sits there. Instead of continuing on, however, as she usually does, Morris squeezes the woman’s hand. “A miracle then happened. She squeezed mine in return, and in the pressure of her old fingers I knew for certain that she understood me in her blindness and was responding woman to woman.” Trefan Morys is a low, 18th-century barn – stone-built, slate-roofed, topped with a weather vane and surrounded by a dense tangle of garden beneath a towering elm tree. Jan Morris has lived here, halfway up a hill in the top-left corner of Wales, with Elizabeth, once her wife, now her civil partner, for the past 30 years. Before that, they had raised their four children in the big manor house a little further down the lane toward Criccieth and the coast. Like everything about Jan Morris’s long and unique life, there is a kind of storytellers’ magic to Trefan Morys. Last week, I drove up through Snowdonia and down toward the Irish Sea, to listen to some of Morris’s myths and legends, while the last of storm Dennis rattled outside. I ashamed to say I do read my own books quite a bit,” she says, and laughs. “There are one or two good things. But then you also feel, oh do please stop going on…” No – see above! I was enthralled in the first place by its sense of timeless melancholy – just my style, but no longer available. If someone else were looking out for a subject like Venice today, where would you recommend they start?

The operation was a success. Morris returned to England and divorced her wife Elizabeth, as was required by law, though the two would remain partners for life. (In 2011 they entered a civil union.) Isn’t this what the best travel writers do? They give us eyes to see, ears to hear. They lend us their sensibilities so that we can develop our own, experiencing a place not as they did, but as we alone can do. They model the how, not the what; if I have been rather misguided in my attempts to experience Venice as Morris did, the broader lesson of her writing has not been lost on me. A person should travel as oneself, and oneself alone, thrilling in their own subjectivity, delighting however they will in what Morris affectionately calls the “civic blur.” There is, I think, an easy explanation for the vast difference in quality and style between the two books. Trieste and The Meaning of Nowhere was written in 2002, one of her later works. The World of Venice, on the other hand, was written in 1960. I don't think she'd yet found her unique and lovely way of bringing together the eloquent travel essay, the quirks of history, and the expert tour guide into one unified whole. Artsnight: Michael Palin Meets Jan Morris". BBC two. BBC. 8 October 2016. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019 . Retrieved 21 December 2019.It is a pleasant enough read, but its main fault for me is that Morris wants to seem to tell you everything about every aspect of Venice. So for instance, in the section on the secondary forgotten attractions of Venice, rather than describe one or two examples she lists lots and lots of them, and you get lost under the sheer quantity of facts and information. I felt less facts, and more about the mood, might have been better. At times I wanted to skim over the parts when she lists lots of examples. There is a lovely diary entry in the current book in which, with the weather raging outside, she determines to do her thousand steps indoors: “round and about the sofas I whistled my way, never pausing, left, right, left right… counting the paces on my fingers and sometimes bursting into song, until at last, breathless but triumphant, I reached the millennium on my thumb.” By now I have made my way to the northern side of Venice, where the streets are mostly empty and the boats are all shrouded in tan and blue canvas covers. Despite the quiet, I see evidence of life hanging on the clotheslines that stretch from building to building, their damp carriage lolling gently in the breeze. I love these displays not just for their quaintness but also for their startling vulnerability. In one alleyway I spot a pink bra and an elastic-waisted pair of flower-print pants. In another, I glimpse a Nirvana T-shirt and a pair of polo shirts whose sweat stains are visible on their collars. James Morris, Nepal, 1953. Morris was the first reporter to break the news that Hillary and Tenzing had conquered Everest. Photograph: Royal Geographical Society via Getty Images Morris died on 20 November 2020 at Ysbyty Bryn Beryl (Bryn Beryl Hospital) in Pwllheli in North Wales, at the age of 94, survived by Elizabeth and their four children. Her death was announced by her son Twm. [2] [10] Awards [ edit ]

If you are not sure what you think about something, the most useful questions are these,” she says. “Are you being kind? Are they being kind? That usually gives you the answer.” From EastEnders to the Archers, Life on Mars to Shameless, he has been obsessed with telling big popular stories. He has spent years analysing not just how stories work but why they resonate with audiences around the globe and has brought together his experience in his bestselling book Into the Woods.I suggest that there must be a part of her restless soul that misses the travel. Can she revisit those worlds by reading her own books? Later Morris forfeited a promised job on the Observer after telling its anti-colonial editor, David Astor, that the British empire “is on the whole a force for good in the world, and ... fighting a rearguard action is the right and honourable thing to do”. He was anyway an outrageously successful journalist, moving with his family to live in the French Alps, flush with flash magazine commissions (a single piece – not one for the Guardian – paid for a car) and contracts for more books, including Sultan in Oman (1957) and The Hashemite Kings (1959).

Venables, Stephen (2003). To the top: the story of Everest. London: Walker Books. p.63. ISBN 0-7445-8662-3.

Short stories to keep

There are some fascinating bits about the Venetian language. The word 'Arsenal' which was the name for the Venetian shipyard which used assembly-line techniques (celebrated by Dante in the Inferno) to produce, at peak, a fighting galley every day, comes from the arabic 'dar es sinaa' which means 'house of art'. The Arabic word 'sikka' (a die) became 'zecca' (a mint) and thence 'zecchino' (a coin) which is the origin of the Venetian unot of currency, the sequin. (The City: 17) At one point in Conundrum, written in 1974, Morris wonders whether she might be simply ahead of her time, a premonition of gender fluidity to come. Whatever the case, she had a certainty about her “slow motion Jekyll and Hyde” that was all her own. When the transformation was complete in Casablanca, she writes “I had reached Identity” with a capital I. (Elsewhere she described it as “At-one-ment”). She pictures herself as Ariel, “a figure of fable and allegory” in pursuit of the “higher ideal that there is neither man nor woman”. Had the possibility of safe surgery not existed, she had no doubt she would “bribe barbers or abortionists, I would take a knife and do it myself, without fear, without qualms, without a second thought”. An explorer at heart, it was a stint in the army in the Middle East during the Second World War that allowed Morris, finally, to feel ‘free’. The least interesting journey, according to the writer herself, was the one Morris made transitioning from male to female, a process nonetheless intimately documented in Conundrum (1974), making Morris counter-cultural grist for such publications as theRolling Stonemagazine, for whom she became a writer. John Yorke delves into how Jan Morris defied boundaries in Venice and explores why Morris’ first impressions of the city in 1945 were so powerful to her. He also listens to other readers of Venice who talk about Morris’ vivid description and playful wit. And Jan Morris herself refers to the city of Venice as a touchstone in Conundrum, her account of her gender reassignment in the 1970s. Can you tell us anything about the book I believe you’ve written which will be published posthumously?

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