We went to see Syria: A Conflict Explored at the Imperial War Museum.  There’s two main parts of it: A Lens on Syria and Story of a Conflict.  The story of a conflict is mainly a video outlining the background to the war, starting at the protests in 2011 following the treatment by the government of young boys who painted anti-government graffiti.  It seemed like a fairly fact-based, non-partisan overview, but without knowing more about the conflict I can’t say that for certain.  It’s only 8 minutes long, so many things obviously have been omitted (e.g. UK involvement in bombing.)  The reference to around 1000 different militia groups felt somewhat relevant to what I’m reading in Homage to Catalonia.

A Lens on Syria is photography of mainly Damascus, Homs and Palmyra from 2013-2014.  It shows the lives of citizens in those primarily government-controlled cities.  It’s people getting on with their lives as best they can in damaged buildings and ravaged streets.  There’s also a collection of incredibly painful photography of refugees at European borders.

Watched the first episode of American Gods last night.  Pretty good.  Well made and acted.  Very gory.  Don’t really know what it’s about yet though – hoping that there will be some reflection on modern society.  Maybe each of these gods will represent a part of it.  They all seem pretty negative gods so far.

Picked up George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia from Oxfam in Ealing.  Very interesting so far.  It’s Orwell’s account of his time with the Anarchist militia during the Spanish Civil War.  Well written and refreshing to get political thoughts directly from the front line, so to speak – from someone who has lived through it, not just simply philosophising about it.

Main takeaways so far are the lack of organisation and preparation in the Anarchist militias.  Which, as Orwell points out, fair enough, given the circumstances.  Also that there were often periods of great mundanity in the war – he writes at one point that both sides’ main preoccupation while defending the front is keeping warm, not the enemy.

Interesting to learn a lot of the initial militias came from trade unions.

Walking in Epping Forest was lovely yesterday.  We did the 7 mile Oak Trail from Theydon Bois.  It starts out in the suburbs a bit, then brings you into the heart of Epping Forest.  It’s really lovely when you get inside the forest.  Wide, easy paths, but with some great sense woodland you can explore off the beaten track.  Perfect for a sunny day walk.