The Kingdom That Defends

Embed from Getty Images

In the dead of the night, two robbers, James and Jacob, are standing on a sand dune. Wearing cream-coloured cloaks and sporting pointy beards they seem to be waiting for somebody, or something to happen.

Jacob: The night is still young. We should carry on with our plans.
James: Most certainly! Have you brought some food along? The journey will be long.
Jacob: I brought water and tiny bags of pine nuts; the items are saddled to both of our donkeys.
James: Good. That will be sufficient. The sooner we get to Egypt, the better. My whole body is aching really terribly; I would like to get the job done as fast as possible.
Jacob: Oh! Why is your body in so much pain?
James: I haven’t robbed that kingdom yet – every single kingdom…within my sight of course…fell to my command. But that one is still standing. How is something like that possible?
Jacob: Oh! That riles me up like anything!
James: I get that feeling too sometimes! You know, I heard tales the king keeps losing money but it’s been weeks and he still hasn’t lost all of his money.
Jacob: Clearly, there is something about over there we haven’t yet noticed.
James: Yes, that’s why we are here, and that’s why I feel that we should just go ahead with our plans!

Meanwhile, at Cow’s palace, Eric is busy arranging a vase of fresh flowers: he has made his own assortment of flowers bought from the market; the vase is for Noir to keep on her busy desk – it’s a small present from Eric, who’s growing rather fond of the young girl. Noir isn’t aware of this, however, because she’s with Cow in his dining room, discussing a secret message Abrahim Butros has sent him.

Cow: So, the rest of the message goes like this: …there are two robbers out looking to rob you. Defend yourself! Fight for your honour!
Noir: Isn’t that a bit too animated of a reaction to two robbers appearing to rob your kingdom?
Cow: It is! But that’s just what Butros is like, you know. He can’t even defend his kingdom properly but never tires of…
Noir:…playing the same song over and over again!
Cow: Why, yes! Butros always only really sings about defending kingdoms properly……his messenger also brought the message in a tattered form.
Noir: What should we do? Should we get our swordsmen ready and on horseback?
Cow: I think that would be a very wise strategy, yes.
Noir: But wouldn’t that make them noticeable? We got information now, it’s better to tackle the robbers now, invincibly, rather than have them hover around, with the possibility that they might rob the kingdom anytime soon.
Cow: Oh! But we’ll get another message from Butros, or our friends from other kingdoms if that happens. Our friends will look out for us, even when we fail to do that ourselves.
Noir: I know that! But it’s better to be safe!…I’ll get our swordsmen ready and ask them to hide from sight and prepare for attack the moment the robbers come into our kingdom.
Cow: Yes, you do that!…This…how does Butros deal with problems appearing in his kingdom on his own? I would have never been able to do it, without you by my side, Noir.
Noir:..are you frightened? Don’t be. I am sure the robbers will be frightened away.
Cow: That helps. Now, I will just go, sit on my throne and munch on some salty crackers, as you orchestrate the swordsmen. It’s getting so suspenseful, I wouldn’t want to miss any minute of it, with those salty crackers.


The Sighing Snowman

Embed from Getty Images

Ink and Dimitri are out for a walk, after spending a few hours bored sitting indoors. It’s the weekend, the weather is cold and the two kids are thinking of building a snowman but where to do that exactly? It’s not that snow doesn’t cover most of the areas the two are stomping on, with their thick boots – the problem is more of where to place the snowman so that the carts and carriages passing by don’t think Ink and Dimitri are lunatics building a snowman on the side of the road reserved for walking.

Ink: I think if we could find a friendly farm or a valley, it would be alright. But I don’t know any, aside from my family’s farm of course.
Dimitri: I know a valley we can build a snowman on. It’s past the markets – maybe a twenty or thirty minutes walk from the corner curry shop will do.
Ink: Alright! Let’s go there then! That would be perfect.

Ink and Dimitri walk to the valley, passing by lots of busy folks out shopping in the markets or drinking in the village pubs. Ink thinks to herself that no one even cares that two kids are going to an empty valley on a weekend, which actually just suits her fine because she could use a more spacious environment outdoors than the one the weekend is currently letting her have. The valley is covered with snow, with broken fences feebly standing here and there, as well as the odd tree and twigs littering the very white landscape.

Ink: Can we start building the snowman? We can use some of the twigs for its arms…if there are fallen nuts or something maybe we can use them for the snowman’s eyes and the nose too.
Dimitri: Sure! I’ll start by gathering some of the snow for us…it will be easier that way to build it.
Ink: Yes! You do that while I rest from our long walk to get up here. In fact, I think I will just plop myself down on the snow and just I don’t know…talk for a few minutes at least, alright?
Dimitri: Sure! Anything up?
Ink: Nope!…I was just thinking about a lot of things lately. My neighbour came over last night and I overheard from the kitchen that her son is dying. He’s like a teenager and he’s got this incurable disease and she might have to move from Sheffield for it. She’s like actually not from this country…she came here from Guadeloupe.
Dimitri: Oh! Are you alright?
Ink: Me? Yeah, I’m alright! But why wouldn’t I be alright?…I don’t even know the woman – my mother and grandfather does. I have actually got no idea who she is.
Dimitri: I meant are you alright, as in, meeting the news of your neighbour’s son dying is not something small to handle, or something. So I was just concerned a wee bit.
Ink: Mmmm…
Dimitri: Why is that woman’s son dying? What kind of disease is this?
Ink: I am not sure because the woman didn’t share that much. I think she just dropped by to let my mother know something at least because that way my mother won’t wake up one day and find out that our neighbour is no longer there in the house next door, with no clue as to why. The woman use to even come up to our house to borrow sugar, every now and then, because she’s actually a war widow. Her husband was English, which is why she moved here to Sheffield but he died a very long time ago.
Dimitri: Oh!
Ink (sigh): I wish I had brought my dogs with me today. I didn’t get any chance to play with them yesterday because the woman was at our house for a visit. Even my mom was fretting she couldn’t take a look at the beehive she keeps in our farm. I think the bees are busy doing a winter cluster, or something like that.
Dimitri: Ah! Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you can play with your dogs after we get back.
Ink: You sure about that? What if the woman drops by again, you know her son’s really sick?
Dimitri (sigh): Alright! Just come here and help me with the snowman…I think I gathered too much snow than is needed.
Ink (sigh): Alright! Let’s build that snowman…be a good boy and get me some twigs, while I assemble the snow into a snowman.
Dimitri: Is it going to be a sighing snowman?
Ink: I think it might be, as soon as you get me those twigs.

Ink’s ‘My Diary’

Embed from Getty Images

Ink is sitting in her home’s living room, with a brand new journal, whilst her Rottweiler is fast asleep next to her couch. Ink’s planning on keeping the journal as a diary – it’s almost the end of the year and not the perfect time to start writing a diary to Ink, but she’s convinced it’s going to be the best idea in the whole world. The diary is a simple yellow alligator-skin notebook, with lined pages, and it’s got ‘1800’ – the year, inscribed on it, with golden letters; the journal was a gift from her grandfather, this winter.

It’s an unusually hot winter’s day, with no wind in sight and the only good thing about the sunshine today is that it has managed to clear up most of the snow, from the past couple of days, which was making it difficult for villagers to walk around town. To Ink, her house seems less packed than usual even though Mother is busy talking to her grandfather and cooking in the kitchen – it’s one of the many thoughts she’s having whilst trying to figure out something to write in her new diary.

Twenty minutes later, Ink writes a whole page in her diary…

Dear Diary,

I am Ink Williams. I am a student in school. Well, boarding school. And I am here, at home, for the holidays. It’s not even the holidays, if truth be told, because yesterday, I had winter school. This is inbetween getting privately tutored. I needed to go to winter school because I am weak in Geography. If they taught me more about maps, maybe I would find the subject more interesting but they don’t. It’s most of the time about Africa and it’s not even South Africa, which I find really fascinating. I think it’s the worst subject I have to learn sometimes but I’ve still got to learn it. Also, I got the chance to eat a vegetable roll during lunch break in school, recently and I thought it was the oiliest and tastiest thing in the world – my best friend, Dimitri, shared it with me, from his lunch box. Normally, all I eat are bland egg sandwiches and although I really love to have eggs for lunch, it’s nice to have fried food to eat, once in a while. I felt it was the sneakiest moment ever but it was really, really worth it. Then I came back home, after stopping by Dimitri’s house for a quick bite to eat and did nothing but read about African geography because I have a test coming up on it. I spent most of the hours, glass-eyed and daydreaming about riding a magic broomstick, like a young witch, with a cute black cat for company, and now I am afraid I will not do very good in the test because I barely learnt anything at all. I also read a good book, before going to bed: it was a short story on two pigs, but they can talk and they have got some very amazing observations on a farmyard full of animals. It’s also where they live and the farm is a very fun-filled place, filled with hay, sunshine and noisy animals. That’s it. That was all I did. Wait, till everything becomes a lot more interesting!


Ink Williams

It’s One Of Those Days

Ink and Dimitri are sitting next to each other in special school today. They have had a change of seats suddenly to accommodate some exchange students coming in from York. Ink is busy scribbling on her notepad whatever that is coming to her mind, and she’s very absentminded in Geography. She has no clue what the teacher is talking about and can barely make out blurry shapes of her classmates seated all around her in their school uniforms of oxford blue and white. After doodling one too many flowers, which are smiling at the sunshine, whilst a teddy bear rides a rainbow in a heavy snowstorm, Dimitri pokes Ink with his thumb.

Ink (taken aback and loudly): What? Don’t disturb me.
Dimitri (whispers): I’m sorry. But what are you doodling? I’m really bored too.
Ink (whispers): Nothing interesting.
Dimitri (whispers): Come on! Let me have a look!
Ink (whispers): No! And be quiet! I don’t want the teacher to think I’m talking to another student when class is happening!

Thirty minutes later…

Ink and Dimitri are at the cafeteria, sharing their lunchboxes. Ink has brought three egg sandwiches and has swapped one of them for Dimitri’s very large vegetable rolls.

Ink (munching on the vegetable roll): Oh! I am not supposed to eat this much. I am on a diet. But I can’t resist the look of the oily vegetable roll.
Dimitri: Oh! Go on! Mother will throw a fit if she ever finds out I ate eggs for lunch.
Ink: Why? Does she think your porky?
Dimitri: Porky’s my middle name. What’s yours?
Ink: Lazy. And I hate it.
Dimitri: I like it.
Ink (annoyed): WHAT?
Dimitri: No, I mean lazy’s not a bad nick name.
Ink: Sure!
Dimitri: I mean it! Lazy’s so much better than porky.
Ink: I suppose it is, yeah!

Three hours later…

Dimitri and Ink are spending their late afternoon with each other in the former’s house. They have only got cheese sandwiches, Dimitri’s pet rabbit, Shoomuchos, and each other for company.

Ink: Oh! Look at Shoomuchos’ whiskers! He’s a really cute and grumpy looking rabbit.
Dimitri: He is. And he keeps me in great company during evenings.
Ink: Just like how my dogs keep me company?
Dimitri: Just like that…had to do a lot of talking to get my mother to get me Shoomuchos.
Ink: Really? We are more alike than I thought.
Dimitri: I like that we are alike…that’s the point of a best friend.
Ink (smiles): ……Dimitri…do you know what happened to the woman from the Rogers family who eloped?
Dimitri: I didn’t hear much from my living room window. But I think the lady’s called Caroline, and she’s never coming back.
Ink: Why?
Dimitri: Because her parents never accepted her husband. I think she finds that her parents are not understanding of this big decision she’s taken in her life.
Ink: But it’s not the right decision?
Dimtri: Oh! What do I know? It’s just village gossip. If luck will have its way as it usually does with me, we’ll never find out anything further than that.

Cow’s Midnight Chat

Embed from Getty Images

Cow has been trying to get some sleep all night but he just keeps turning left and right on his bed, unable to fall into deep slumber. The thunderous rain outside his windows is further keeping him awake. He thinks about checking if Noir is asleep or awake just like him – since, he’s unable to get some sleep maybe a midnight chat will help keep things less boring. Lighting a small candle and pulling his nightcap over his head, Cow walks silently through the golden corridors of his palace.

(four knocks at the door)

Noir (in a muffled voice): Mmm…who is it?
Cow: It’s me!
Noir: Come in! I think I left the door unlocked.

Cow enters Noir’s bedchamber and notices that the goldfish in her room are busy swimming to and fro in the blue fishbowl they call home. He places the candle at the foot of Noir’s bed and plops down on his adviser’s bed, creating a bulge at the spot he’s sat on – Cow is a really round fellow.

Noir: I think I need to get a new mattress after the crater you are putting at the corner of mine tonight.
Cow (chuckles): Well, you know me. I am so round and big.
Noir: Why here in the middle of the night?
Cow: I’m unable to fall asleep and it’s making me very irritated.
Noir: Really? I felt that way a couple of minutes ago when it started pouring outside.
Cow: Why? The weather will be so much colder from now on. The heat preceding it was unbearably intense.
Noir: No, I know that! But why does it always rain in the night? I would have loved to take a look at it through the upstairs balcony but I can’t do that now because it is so late.
Cow (sigh): I know. It’s going to get better now that the annual rainfall has already started. You excited about that?
Noir: I am, yeah.
Cow: How’s work been?…Am I keeping you awake?
Noir: No. I’ve been unable to sleep much myself too. And…
Cow: Well, that’s just divine because we can chat then!
Noir: Yeah! Work’s been good. I have been working on a case – there’s a mysterious seller in town, who’s been selling people a potion that does funny things to people who drink them.
Cow: What kind of funny things happen to them?
Noir: It makes people see ghosts.
Cow (jumps off the bed): Gyahhhh! That’s a seriously scary story.
Noir: It’s not. Because the ghosts arent’ real. They are disguises put on by the seller’s entourage, to help him rob people of their possessions.
Cow (sits back down on the bed): Oh! So this seller’s a bandit?
Noir: He is. But nobody realizes that because they feel the ghost took away all their possessions.
Cow (jumps off the bed): Gyahhhh! Are you sure that’s not a ghost’s doing?
Noir: I’m sure. But the bandit is proving harder and harder to catch. I think his next robbing point will be a small village about 800 miles from here. The locality is filled with mostly poor people but a bandit will still rob at every opportunity.
Cow (stroking his big moustache): I feel proud. Only you can be on his tail, when ghosts are involved.
Noir: Mmm…our town’s replete of bandits. Did you ever notice?
Cow (sits back down on the bed): I did. I was robbed of all my possessions once on a camel journey to Morocco – bandits had left me only in my long white cotton robes, on my camel’s back because I was out without my sword. How foolish of me!
Noir: Indeed!
Cow (shudders): But at least I didn’t get robbed by any type of ghost.

Mud and Ice

Embed from Getty Images

When the first drops of rain falls in winter, the feeling you get from it is hard to pin down. Ink , sitting on her very broad (and brown) window pane discovers she has always enjoyed the rain. It’s one of her favourite things in Sheffield, besides of course stories of ‘The Great War’. In the Williams household, war stories are huge. It’s almost as if everyday there is a new story to tell of a war, which feels so long ago to her. Smiling at the thought, Ink notices that a bright ray of sunshine has suddenly taken over the skies following the rain. It’s one of those aftereffects of a weather downpour she absolutely detests but sunshine is often rare in winter, and it reminds her if she can ask her mother to go to the grocery store now, instead of in the evening when she really wants to reserve some time for learning.

At the kitchen…

Mother Williams: I am certain you can. What do you want to get for yourself?
Ink: Apples and chicken.
Mother Williams: We need a loaf of bread, bell peppers and some sugar. But that seems like a lot to carry. Why don’t you ask the butler to accompany you?
Ink: Sure! Anything else?
Mother Williams: No, I think that’s it.

Trodding on muddy ground littered with snow speckles, Sebastian (the middle-aged butler in the Williams household) and Ink Williams are trying to get to the grocery store.

Sebastian: Master, how can you even walk today? Even wearing the right shoes won’t help. It’s muddy every few feet for the roads, and…
Ink: Icy sheets on the pavements everywhere.
Sebastian: Yes, that’s why we should go back.
Ink: But I really need chicken for tonight. I have got absolutely nothing in the fridge apart from cheese and leftover toasties. Try to keep up!
Sebastian: Oh…

When Ink and her butler reach the grocery store, it’s packed.

Sebastian (glancing at the crowd): Well, this is just ridiculous!
Ink: I know. Why does everyone have to be out today? It’s not even the weekend.
Sebastian: Maybe they got fresh produce?
Ink: I hope. Although, I am not really buying much.
Sebastian: Maybe you should.
Ink:…I could use some bell peppers of my own.
Sebastian: Alright, Ink, let’s walk to buy apples. Lord save the Queen!

Two hours and two pairs of muddy trousers later…

Sebastian: Master, do you have everything you need?
Ink: Yes, I do!
Sebastian: Well, then let’s head right back home. Our trousers are muddy as it is.
Ink: I think I overheard some neighbourhood gossip while shopping.
Sebastian: What did you hear?
Ink: A young maiden has eloped and her family is in deep shame (and a lot of tears) for it because he is a good-for-nothing.
Sebastian: Am I hearing this right? You actually heard of a story like that?
Ink: Yes. Why?
Sebastian: Well, people ought to know better than to air their shameless dirty laundry in the air like that, when children are about at the grocer’s too, don’t you think?
Ink: So what if I heard it? Don’t you think it makes me wiser?
Sebastian: Tales like that?
Ink: Sure. I now know there are kinds of women who elope with idiots.
Sebastian: Wow! You do?…and what family is this?
Ink: The Rogers. They live close to where Dimitri does. Oh! Maybe he knows about it too. I can’t wait to ask him if actually saw anything up close.

Cow and Noir are at the Fortress

Embed from Getty Images

Cow and Noir are both silent, on camel-back and in front of a fortress. The fortress looks built of mud and fronts pearly black gates. It’s enormous and in front are two guards dressed in plain-white robes, with gold trimmings. After inquiring why Cow and Noir are visiting the fortress, one of the guards proceed with taking them inside to meet the sick king. Inside the fortress, everything is rather quiet, except for ducks sitting near a fountain, or an odd breeze gently moving leaves of trees. The sick king is in his chamber room, and when Cow and Noir meet him, he is busy talking to one of his members of court. The chamber is decorated in plush red velvet, and the bed, even though built of cherry wood is rich in details. Cow greets the king and elaborates on his unexpected short visit – he mentions how he and his adviser rushed over here to meet the king and hope healing of his awful ailment is speeded up.

Abrahim Butros: Ah, Cow! How long has it been since I laid my eyes upon you?
Cow: Not that long! I would think somewhere around two or three years.
Abrahim Butros: That’s preposterous. It’s far too long. Had I not been caught up in my kingdom’s affairs I would have certainly visited. Cow, you don’t have any idea what’s been happening…is that your adviser there standing in the corner of the room?
Cow (turns around): Yes, that is my new adviser. Her name is Noir Chocolate. She is an excellent adviser. Noir, why don’t you come here and chat with the king? It would be very nice.
Abrahim Butros: That won’t be necessary. Why don’t you sit here at the foot of my bed?
Noir: Sure!…why are you dying?
Abrahim Butros: I am not dying! I am just…not healing. I expect to do better within the next few weeks.
Cow: Butros, be serious! You know you don’t have much time.
Abrahim Butros: I will not be dead when my kingdom is going to my rivals.
Cow: But what are you going to do? That is what your people want.
Abrahim Butros: What about what I want? What about my country?
Noir: Weren’t you like your people ten years ago and you had supported Queen Golden’s journey to the national throne?
Abrahim Butros: That’s besides the point!
Noir: How?
Abrahim Butros: That Queen is nearly not as bad as this new Queen my people have in mind.
Cow: What? They are both horrible.
Abrahim Butros: Queen Golden wasn’t as bad. She was dumb and a puppet in her husband’s hands. Do you know what Queen Sophia is like? She was forbidden by her father, like all maidens in the country to join politics. But she got married and her husband let her be an equal to all men in the country. Not only is she going to tarnish our country’s image across the world if she replaces me to the throne but she will also go ahead and give the women in our country brand new ideas of what is must feel like to be a woman in a man’s shoe…Noir do you like sweets?
Noir: I like sweets, yes!
Abrahim Butros: Let’s go for a walk in my courtyard garden. And when we get tired, we can stop and have some sweets from our kitchen.

Cow, Noir and Abrahim Butros are walking in the courtyard garden. It is filled with trees of every shape and size, of flowering plants and smells pleasantly of Butros’ favourite flower too: blue water lily.

Noir: Blue water lily is your favourite flower…why?
Abrahim Butros: Mmm, oh I have been fond of it since I was a little boy. To me, it represents a far away world I have never been to but would have liked to.
Cow: What place is that?
Abrahim Butros and Noir (together): Ceylon.
Cow: Who?
Abrahim Butros: It’s Sri Lanka!
Cow: Oh! That place is Sri Lanka? Wow! I have never been there myself too.
Abrahim Butros: Yes, it is a nice place I have read.
Cow: It is. And so far away too.
Abrahim Butros (heartily slaps Noir on the back): Sweets. My favourite ones look like green and white striped duck eggs. I would love to know which you will like.

Unbeknownst to Abrahim Butros, Queen Sophia is losing her patience over having to wait for her throne and begins to hatch a plan to politically push it up faster – she gathers her supporters to see to it that a political idea spreads out amongst the local people that the transition to power for her happens before the king dies; it will ensure the local people have a say in how the country is run for a change and the expectation is they’ll get so excited by it, Butros will get dethroned in Queen Sophia’s favour immediately. Meanwhile, a kitchen boy serves Abrahim Butros and his two guests some sweets that look like duck eggs, in various colours, on a silver plate in the courtyard garden.

Cow: Oh! Look at all the delicious colours!
Noir: I think I like the orange and yellow one.
Abrahim Butros (gasp): You do? That tastes like red apples on the inside.
Noir: Great! I like apples. What does yours taste like?
Abrahim Butros: Melon. Why don’t you take some back to Egypt for your friends too? I feel they would love the crumbly sweets.
Cow:…mine tastes like fatty buttercream.

Cow and Noir go on Camel Rides

Embed from Getty Images

On a crystal clear blue sky, Cow and Noir are out for a camel ride. The whole atmosphere is hot and sandy. As camels plop their feet on the dunes and the two sweigh while riding their two friendly camels, Rajah and Ranee, a procession of people pass by. At first, Cow thinks it must be a mirage because he and Noir were completely alone in the big desert but soon it turns out that it is not so.

Cow: Young man! Why is there a procession happening?

Young man: It is for our great lord: Abrahim Butros. He is terribly ill and might not live long.

Noir (gasp): Why?

Young man: I think that it is because of his royal subjects plotting to overthrow him. They have taken a great liking collectively to a certain Queen Sophia and want to dethrone Abrahim and make the middle-aged princess their new ruler.

Cow: What an utterly barbaric story! Come on, Noir! Let’s get on with our camel ride in the desert.

Noir: Hang on! Young man, can you tell me more about the story? Where is this happening?

Cow: Over the borders of Egypt and close to Tripoli. Do you know our lord?

Noir: I might have heard of him. Is he still in Libya?

Young man: Yes, that is where he wishes to be buried.

Noir: Alright! Thank you!…Cow do you think we should pay a visit for diplomatic purposes?

Cow: What for?

Noir: For diplomatic purposes. We might know what is up in more detail. Aren’t you the slightest bit interested?

Cow: No, I am. If it’s happening to a border country, you know I am. Did you think I was an American ruler or something?

Noir: Then why did you say you weren’t interested previously?

Cow: I just didn’t think it was the most nicest of stories I ever heard. But maybe we should be going for a visit to the poor chap’s palace…I have made up my mind…let’s set off far and towards Tripoli.

Twelve hours later…

Cow: Whew! Noir…I am tired. Do you want to stop by a market and buy some tents for us to camp in the desert for the night?

Noir: Sure.

Cow and Noir each buy two tents, some kebabs for dinner and set up camp near a pond shaded by palm trees. Their camels are resting too and drinking plenty of cold water from the pond, underneath the deepest and darkest of nights.

Cow: Noir I will tell you a little secret.

Noir: What is it?

Cow: Abrahim rules over savages. His own people find a Queen Sophia more interesting but she sounds a lot like Queen Golden – remember her? She was the ruler right before Abrahim. She knew nothing but regularly pretended otherwise and rumours have it that no one could remove her because of the youth of the country.

Noir: That makes no sense if Queen Golden knew nothing because she probably just ruled forcefully.

Cow: I know that. But I suspect that it was also the fault of the young kids in the country. Did you think they were you, Noir? Did you think that they will support Abrahim, or rulers like him, you know, like how you always support me?

Noir: No, I never thought anything like that.

Cow: Yes. They never cared for their country like how you care for Egypt. It is just too much to expect really from young people around the world like you.

Noir: But kids in Egypt aren’t like that.

Cow: Oh they are just good-for-nothings! They only want to play soccer, fly kites and eat food. They aren’t the slightest bit concerned about Egypt like you are but those kids in Tripoli, Noir…they are culturally different. They use to think just like you. Taking their Libya far was the only thing that mattered to them and look at them now – you are the only one in the region taking Egypt so far and protecting the country like a severe hawk.

Noir: Mmm…this kebab is good.

Cow: I know it is!!! I wonder what kind of kebabs we will be getting where we are going. I wouldn’t want to say goodbye to my lime and lemons.


The Challenges of doing Interviews and Profiles

Embed from Getty Images

How difficult is it to spend time with a subject long enough and learn something new about them?

In journalism, an interview or a profile gives the audience the chance to learn more about a person in the news (for example, a celebrity or a politician), or someone that the journalist (or blogger) has found interesting enough to be interviewed, or do a profile on. A profile is, more often than not, based on an interview because an interview gives a journalist the chance to spend time with his or her subject. Only one hour or two, is not a lot of time to learn about a person and make them feel comfortable around a journalist, and neither is it sufficient time to produce a very good profile of an individual.

The basic rules involve being with the subject of the interview, as a journalist for such a long time, that they show you who they really are as a person. I tend to look at profiles (or interviews) as a chance to examine a subject I find very interesting. Another important fact to me, whilst gathering the ingredients to cooking up a profile: is spending time with the subject(s) + making sure that the time is long, regular and primarily great-work-based.

As a journalist, learning from action-oriented methods also help you to understand your subject on a deeper level because how a person likes to do things also show you so much about them. But when conversations happen, I think that it is a good idea to have it be suggestive of the subject’s positive comfort-level with you as a journalist and leave it at that; what I absolutely detest is the idea of a journalist sugarcoating a subject – in fact, I find that nauseating.

I think a journalist (or a blogger) should be true to themselves, at the end of the day, that interviewing someone (or doing a profile on someone) is about providing a journalist’s (or a blogger’s) very own angle on an individual. Most journalists (or bloggers) also spend a good amount of time with their research on a subject, before spending time with them long enough to get the subject to make public their true self, for these journalists (or bloggers).

For interviews, I think investigative interviews and informational interviews are the most revealing types of interviews no matter which topic area it is done in. Although the definition of what makes a person interesting enough varies, it is not odd if journalists choose non-famous people, for example maybe a woman who has been making a living selling fruits at a circus just won the national lottery, could be an interesting subject of an interview.

Traditionally, doing a profile is a more demanding task than simply interviewing a subject because a profile of an individual is a sketch or a study or an analysis of the individual, whereas an interview tends to be looked at as an opportunity to grill a subject over noteworthy information. I feel the hardest part as a journalist (or as a blogger) is to create a friendly equation, with a subject that you have to do an interview off (or do a profile on).

I think being a professional is always a good beginning, and then you have to slowly (and softly) build an equation with your subject that steers into a favourable directive – I guess being talkative, food and an informal place helps with that but what is needed is for the directive to be personally-pleasing to the journalist (or blogger) because without it, the feature story will not work out the way all-your-hours-spent-on-preparation meant it to. A great story in journalism is always about providing a rare insight and extracting something great and new from a subject (through a professionally-friendly equation with them) – and if not, there is always a good and informative story to turn to.