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A Well-Lived, Well-Appreciated Life After the Pandemic [Unscripted] | | Entertainment

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After experiencing the downturn of the pandemic, it was a pleasure to discover Beryl Markham’s West and Night, a dynamic account of life.

Born in 1902, Markham wrote his memoirs in 1942. Famous for making the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight from England to North America in 1936, Markham went from one adventure to another.

When deciding on a new path, she said, “Tomorrow should not be the same as yesterday.”

At the age of four, Markham arrived in British East Africa, now-Kenya, to live with his settler father on a large farm. Her constant companion was her dog, Blur, a mixed-breed who survived an attack by a leopard and ate cats as a distraction.

Her best friend was Kivii, a boy who was a member of the Nandi Murani tribe. They shared her aspirations and he taught her to jump high and wrestle.They once ventured into the Mau Forest for arrow poison. Markham never had a girlfriend. Murani women were “shy and feminine, did what women were supposed to do, and never hunted.”

Young Markham went out hunting barefoot with a spear, a small replica of the spear wielded by Kibbyi’s father, Arab Maina. On one trip, the hunting party came across a watering hole with no wildlife. This is a bad sign. They soon found a lion.

“The lion shot out of the donga’s fringe like a rock out of a catapult. He stopped like the same rock hit the battlements.

Arab Maina fell to her left knee. Next to him was Arab Kosky. Each man, with a shield, a spear, and a body, was no longer a human, but a fighting machine that was motionless, precise, and calmly ready. With hands less heat from the sun than excitement and heart pounding, I prepared my spear as best I could.

They were able to leave after the lion and the Arab maina glared at each other.

The writing is excellent, as you can see from the quotes. However, it did not sell well and was out of print. In 1982, a Californian named George Gutekunst read a collection of Ernest Hemingway’s letters.

“Have you read Beryl Markham’s book ‘West and Night’? …it’s a really bloody great book.”

Gutkunst persuaded the publisher to reissue the book in 1983, and Markham, now 80, was able to gain respect as a writer on top of his earlier acclaim as a pilot.

The book is winding with a non-linear narrative, and Markham excels at painting dialects and characters. Her chapters differ in tone, some written from the perspective of a thoroughbred stallion and others capturing scenes on the racetrack using only dialogue. She tells stories of failed big game hunts, aerial views of Africa, and attempts to land planes in North Africa during Mussolini’s reign.

She learned a lot about Aboriginal culture, customs, animals and survival. At the age of 15, she was responsible for foaling mares.

A drought brought her the first big move in her life, and she was forced to leave the farm and go off the road with her father, who had moved to Peru. To get started, take two saddlebags with all your belongings (mostly horses) and travel north on horseback.

As a 19-year-old winning racehorse trainer, she earned the respect of the Nairobi Racecourse Association.

Despite growing up white in the African colonies, Markham was not racist. Her friend Kiviy was renamed Alabarta when he became a man, according to tribal custom.

“Arab Rutha is Nandi, anthropologically a member of the Nairoth tribe, humanly a member of a smaller tribe, a more elite tribe whose tribe is too few to be exact. Individuals who are sensitive to but wholly indomitable contribute modestly by each race… without.

When they meet as adults, he addresses her as Mem Sahib, a form of respect. she writes:

“Kibii into Arab Ruta — Beru into Memsahib! — these lofty words that end my youth and always remind me of its end.

They are still good friends, but she sees race enter into their relationship.

“He will walk behind me now. Once upon a time we walked together in our Non-Age simplicity.”

One day, while riding his bicycle, he came across a stranger fixing a broken-down car on the side of the road. As they talk, Tom Black gets the idea of ​​flying in her head, after which he becomes her instructor.

As Herman Melville details 19th-century whaling, Markham puts you in the seat of an Avro-Avian plane to explain its controls and bare minimum requirements. Black taught her to trust her compass and her instincts, but “nothing else.”

“If you can’t fly without looking at airspeed, altimeter and bank and turn indicators, you can’t fly,” he said.

You really feel like you’re flying as she describes the downdrafts as you approach the mountains, look for fumes from campfires, and navigate the featureless landscape.

She was so brave! She flew with an open cockpit without a radio. When Bush consulted charts before her flights, she often said, “Most of the terrain you had to fly over was marked bluntly ‘unsurveyed.’ “

Markham’s life was so extraordinary that she didn’t realize what it was until she was older. I said,

Hey, 2020 and beyond, we all know boredom.

Diana Abreu is a page designer at LNP. Lancaster Online. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by her team of rotating writers.