Recommending a favourite book does not always result in shared enjoyment. One man’s meat can be another man’s poison. Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh has not given me such concerns. Sharing such a great read has only received gratitude. I am not alone. The phenomenon has been fueled by word of mouth and celebrity endorsement via Twitter, helping Gypsy Boy scale the Sunday Times bestseller list.
This biography of the early life of Romany Gypsy Mikey Walsh – not his real name – lifts the veil on a childhood growing up in a world often hidden in rumour and myth. The moving story unfolds as Mikey introduces a host of colourful characters and descriptions of daily ducking and diving on a Gypsy camp.
This week delivered an enjoyable event as part of the third annual Serbian Week in Great Britain. I was invited to London’s Serbian Embassy for a private screening of Besa (Eng: Solemn Promise), the country’s 2011 foreign language Oscar submission. Afterwards, it also provided an informal opportunity to discuss impressions of the film with the Serbian Ambassador to the UK.
Besa is a captivating story based on actual events set during the early days of the First World War. Artfully paced storytelling and tender performances unveil the bonds that develop between an unlikely pair, ignited by fears and prejudice in a small Serbian town.
People make a city. Their energy can trigger a vibrant cultural scene or encourage a burgeoning tourist industry. Those same people can make or break your experiences when visiting for the first time. Every interaction, from ticket inspectors to people on the street leaves a lasting impression that could be recalled to others when returning home. The people of Belgrade could be this city’s greatest asset, having left their indelible mark on my first visit to Serbia.
It is spring 1992 and Bosnia is on the eve of war. Oblivious to the encroaching danger, two friends Stevo and Ramiz play in the spring sunshine. They pretend to be pirates and look for treasure at a nearby abandoned hill fort. Instead of gold, they find guns which causes an argument between the friends, which mirrors the conflict moving ever closer to their door.
When Stevo discovers his father, a soldier in the Serb army, has instructions to kill Muslims in the village, he sneaks out to warn his friend – but is he too late?