North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP)

A blog for students funded by a cross institutional scheme through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to train a new generation of skilled researchers. Offering postgraduate studentships and training across the full range of the AHRC’s disciplines. All views are those of students and are not necessarily those of the NWCDTP.

As Far As The Heart Can Dream : Placement and Study Trip Write-Up (Pete Kalu)

British school kids used to have it drummed into them on pain of detention or worse that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand led to the beginning of World War One.  English Xmas proceeds along similar lines with regards to its Official Facts…

…Mention will be made by the media at some point in the Xmas festivities  of the outbreak during World War One of unofficial peace between the two sides along the Western Front, with particular emphasis on the holding of impromptu football matches – kickabouts – between the Germans and the English. This often segues into informal conversations around decency, our shared humanity, the idiocy of our leaders, how if left to ourselves we the common people would wage no wars etc.


The atrocities being committed in southern Africa around this time by Europeans (the local population described as ‘baboons’ and ‘cattle’ to be slaughtered) do not impinge on this memory. The Xmas Football Story is an essential part of the air-brushed British narrative.

Taking the idea of football being a uniting force at face value, how does football make connections across nations today?  What is the state of play in, for instance, Nigeria? Given that part of my ‘research as practice’ novel is currently set in Nigeria, and with backing from my placement hosts, the Manchester, UK based, National Football Museum, I went over to do some research and catch a few games.

Pic: a football pitch


I like details. The stuff that would be hard to make up. Take, for instance, the plastic water bottles being sold in Lagos. There’s no appeal as in UK to ‘drawn from deep wells’, or ‘from springs at the foot of a remote mountain’. Instead they concentrate their boasts on taste and purity:  ‘Soft and gentle.’ ‘Global No 1 bottled water brand.’ ‘Supple and gentle mouth feel’ & ‘Has quite a purifying and thirst quenching effect.’

Pic: 18th Lagos Book and Art Festival 2016 Crime Fiction Panel, with Hawa Golakai, Toni Kan & Cassava Republic’s  Bibi Bakare Yusuf.


Interlude: A quick fight with photographers:

I take photos here and there but I rarely look at them when I write. Photos are brilliant at giving visual details but can’t carry the scent, the internal mood or moment, can’t organise the structure and layering of thoughts and impressions in the way a notepad does. Photos also sometimes skew a memory: in the ever-rolling film of time the photo is one frame and freezing that frame elevates it, gives it a prominence it may not have had in the narrative at the time. Or maybe I’m simply no good at taking photos!

Pic: rearview in traffic


I saw a few football matches and wrote one short football story set in Lagos that the (English) National Football Museum may use. Most of the time, I made copious notes for my research. My abiding thought on Lagos? These words are direct from my notepad: speed. forget magnets think centriguges – the slow all been spun out by Lagos’ manic centrifuges  & are stumbling around somewhere – dizzy dazed dusting themselves off – on the outskirts of this Megalopolis. as far as the eye can see. as far as the heart can dream


Pic: Freedom Park, Lagos.


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This entry was posted on December 21, 2016 by and tagged , , , , , .
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