The Foxearth and District Local History Society

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Meetings and activities, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations. For more information on recent events and current programme, please email or contact Clare Mathieson 01787 311337 or Lynda Rumble 01787 281434

10 Years in the Arab World by Isobel Clark 12th July 2022

 On a very warm evening in Pentlow Village Hall, FHS member Isobel Clark talked to 26 members and guests about her experiences living in the middle east between 1968 and 1978. Everyone was intrigued by Isobel's experiences as a young woman, when her husband, Peter,was sent to Jordan by the British  Council in their role to give cultural aid, and for him to study for a thesis. (The thesis was completed, but its submission presented complications!)    

Isobel started by talking about the origins of Islam in the sixth and seventh century AD, the prophet Mohamed, and his blood lines that split into Shia and Sunni Muslims.                                                            

Throughout her time in the muslim world, Isobel said she felt quite welcome; and safe as a woman, even when the political and military situation was very tense, e.g. she was aware that every lamppost in Jordan had listening devices, and to have a private conversation she had to stand halfway between them!

While in Jordan, Isobel and her husband travelled widely, including into Syria when possible, but their time was cut short when civil unrest flared up in Israel, resulting in Palestinian refugees being sent to Jordan refugee camps.

Following the unrest, Peter was posted to Lebanon for safety. Isobel recalled an occasion when they moved to the hills outside Beirut, a neighbour from the foreign office asked if they would be happy to have a gun mounted on their veranda - they declined, and nothing more was said!   

Sudan was the next posting, where Isobel's son was born in Khartoum. The family continued to travel as much as they could while in the country, seeing the extremes first hand. In some rural areas living was very basic, with only a type of porridge as the staple food.

Isobel's very personal account was illustrated with many photos taken in each area. Maps, illustrations of Muslim design, various souvenirs and artefacts from her travels were on display. She also showed us photos from Iran on a later trip she made to the Middle East with a friend following her return from Sudan.

Isobel answered many questions at the end of the talk, giving us all a deeper and fascinating glimpse of her experiences of life in the Muslim world, from the late 1960s to 70s, before much subsequent change. I heard various appreciative comments at the end of the talk such as: "What amazing experiences" and "I    wish I'd travelled when I was younger!"