I was surprised by a surge of patriotic outrage at the Second World War British cemetery, on the outskirts of Annaba. It was moving silently to contemplate the ranks of unexpectedly well kept gravestones. Marking the loss of so many young men killed in this corner of North Africa, they stood on neatly mown grass amid what otherwise was the usual midden of Algeria’s public spaces. It was out of my respectful silence that I barely contained an eruption of violent anger when I was peremptorily ejected by a brutish guard for not being in possession of the official authorisation that one inevitably needs in Algeria to perform any activity, however trivial.


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