PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Next Issue Alberto Manguel Selbstgefühl New poems by Fleur Adcock, Claudine Toutoungi and Tuesday Shannon James Campbell A Walk through the Times Literary Supplement
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This article is taken from PN Review 223, Volume 41 Number 5, May - June 2015.

Letter from Slovakia James Sutherland-Smith
At the beginning of last year I received a request to carry out a scoping study of the Peacekeeping English project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’d left my position as a Queen’s Servant working for the British Council in 2009 and despite being on their register of consultants I hadn’t really pursued any of the tempting offers of a month in various Asian and African countries on short-term consultancies for which I seemed vaguely qualified. However, my casual response ‘Why not?’ to what appeared to be a lighthearted request on Facebook suddenly materialised into an offer from the Kenya office which runs sub-Saharan projects in countries where there is no British Council representation. What is more, they wanted me out there as soon as possible to conduct a scoping enquiry into a project that had ground to a halt through a recruiting mishap. A manager had been recruited to take over the project, but as he was arriving at Heathrow airport he received a message that his partner had been taken to hospital and promptly turned round, subsequently resigning. The project had languished and no-one knew whether to continue it or wind it up.

I decided to go because I’d never been south of the equator. The fee was attractive, too. Most of all I wanted to see the river Congo. The most productive times in my life have occurred close to water, either the sea or a river. Everybody in Britain lives within easy walking distance of a stream, a river or the sea. Even in the built-up regions of London where the ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image