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Gottlieb, William P., 1917-, photographer. [Portrait of Tommy Dorsey, Beryl Davis, Georgie Auld, Ray McKinley, Johnny Desmond, Vic Damone, Mel Tormé, Mary Lou Williams, and Josh White, WMCA, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1947] 1 negative : b&w ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. Caption from Down Beat: Tommy Dorsey (top right) interviews the English pigeon, Beryl Davis, for his first disc jockey stint, with such names as Georgie Auld, Ray McKinley, Mary Lou Williams, Josh White and others visible in the background.
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Antioch/ Antakya

17 Nov 2008 / 4 Comments / in Journeys

I’ve missed the last bus over the Syrian border to Aleppo, so have to spend the night in Antakya.

The town was founded in 300 BC by one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Being on two trading routes, one the Silk Road to China, it prospered. It was famous for its school of Greek philosophy and Peter and Paul preached here. St Paul having had his conversion on Damascus’ Straight Street by then.

I read all this waiting for a lift into town, having refused a teenage boy’s offer of sex. He rejects my suggestion we hijack the minibus and drive into town ourselves.

I head out of the cold, bland hotel – perfect for the travelling salesman who’s shown me there – and into the market.

This is a fairly small town – population no more than 200,000 – but I walk for more than ten minutes through the souk. I pass children’s military uniforms complete with Turkish crescent, cheap shoes, wooden carrying platforms to fit on donkeys, bird cages, spices in sacks.

Walking out onto the street I see bicycle repair workshops with small boys gaggling by the doors, kebab shops where food is served to passing customers through open windows, a toy-come-sweet shop where a little girl is browsing, carrying a Barbie backpack. There’s a strong smell of wood smoke and then oranges and onions as farm loads are carried by. The only still and sterile places are the doctors’ surgeries.

All of this is along a narrow street, just a couple of feet away cars, minibuses and scooters stream home in the dark.

It’s all frenetically and intensively about trading and it’s very unlike Tesco.

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4 Responses to Antioch/ Antakya

  1. Sakhr says:

    I think my anticipation for your arrival in Syria is almost as great as yours now!

    I want to flick to the next page of your story, but I can’t because it’s being played out in real time!

  2. Andy Hawker says:

    Hello, Sarah – Andy of the Old Lag persuasion here. Many years, no see, but I’m delighted your Dad has told me about this blog thing of yours, as he has over the years about your career in radio. Andrea & I have been away for a while, so I’ve just read it all in one go and found it absolutely fascinating. I’ve never been to any of the places you’ve visited beyond Austria, so I’m finding those parts especially interesting. Hope you continue having a marvellous time and a safe return. I shall pass your blog address on to my step-daughter, Erica, who you may remember was born within a couple of days of you – 24.9.74 in her case.

  3. Sarah says:

    Nice to hear from you Andy. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading this. You may be pleased to hear I have snaffled a boiled egg from the hotel breakfast to keep me going on the bus to Syria later.

  4. Andy Hawker says:

    Hope it’s not the curate’s egg! Sounds like you recall my penchant for ensuring that body and soul are kept firmly together.
    With you and David Milliband arriving on consecutive days, the Syrians won’t know what’s hit them. I trust you’ll find them welcoming.

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