DAY 228: Viral

November 7th, 2017 § 0 comments

It’s been a one-off celebration in the life of this blog. one when the possibility of a huge virtual audience could be glimpsed. First, just before lunch, came an admission from a near-stranger, that she admired one of the previous posts (it was the unusually well-crafted one in which I wove together Calais (of course), Lesvos and Bethlehem and added a bit of Sappho to show that the world was not always as ruthless as it is now; there were times when one could spend one’s time going into one’s feelings about how godlike, nay frenzied, it felt to be close to a significant other person. And then when I mentioned this fact to another friend, she owned up to being a secret admirer too. Maybe all this ranting has not been words thrown at the wind. If I’ve gained two unknown readers in a day, why not 2K? Let me not go berserk.

But the first contact led to more: a commission to write about ‘any aspect of my experience (as a volunteer) which I wished to share’. Where to start? Setting aside the five volunteer roles which I’m rather incompetently filling at the moment, I’d go back to a couple of days in September 2015 when I strolled down to ‘The Hive’ in Dalston where a newly formed organisation called CalAid was collecting donations for the jungle. I joined in and sorted shoes, not for the last time, with twentyish volunteers; and had the opportunity to observe the formation of an NGO. Little CalAid already, it was clear, had two levels of membership – the leaders, who talked loudly to the press (they’d turned up, in Dalston, in September 2015, to observe this new phenomenon) about their ideals and their mission; and the rank and file e.g. me who sorted shoes, socks, blankets et al. and put them in bags. (I later met several people who shared memories of the sorting experience, though I never met any of the leaders again.)

Calaid unfortunately mushroomed, moved to Slough or somewhere unreachable, and transferred most of its  operations to Greece. I started taking trips to Calais and volunteering in the warehouse;

warehousewhich had the same hierarchy with different coloured hi-viz but no self-important leaders speaking to the press. It became a community in which I felt at home. It couldn’t last.

My last experience of ‘Calais’, still jungly, was in May 2016 when an event called The Big Cleanup’ was being staged; I went, with Leo, Hala, Matt, Liz, to dredge some pretty repellent not to say dangerous ditches (rats on the macroscopic level and who knows what on the microscopic.) To add to the drama, I went on a stroll, fell over (again!), and recovered over a generous cup of tea with some Syrians; we chatted, and my host, since escaped to the U.K., is now a friend, has leave to remain, and is enrolled on a degree

What exciting times we live in! At the age of 79, I wasn’t really prepared to live in them; but nor, I expect, was anyone else. I spend Tuesdays worrying about asylum claims, which is a pleasure if they aren’t your own. As Right to Remain reports, for example, last year’s case ‘MST and Others (national service – risk categories (CG)’ shook up the rules on Eritrea  ‘The judgment is long (459 paragraphs) but if the country guidance case could be useful in your case or that of someone you are supporting it’s a good idea to try and read it all!’ What sort of advice is that to the gritty-eyed asylum lawyer? And when I start on the said MST, looking for guidance, I find sentences like:

‘However, since there are viable, albeit still limited, categories of lawful exit especially for those of draft age for national service, the position remains as it was in MO, namely that a person whose asylum claim has not been found credible cannot be assumed to haveeritrea left illegally.’

My brain starts spinning – surely there are too many negatives here?  What can be assumed if my claim has not been found incredible? I’d rather cut the assumptions and just leave, credibly or not.

But I’ve strayed much too far from my original narrative of life as a volunteer in Calais. And it’s an ongoing life, as is yours, reader, until that one of the Fates who holds the scissors decides to give it a

atropos

merciful snip.

Where next on this adventurous textual journey? What further horrors does 2017 have in store for us, recalling that it still has nearly two probably bloodstained months to run?

Music

How long is it since we had a bit of Bach? (Not long enough, I hear from the admirers of Nat ‘King’ Cole and Tansy Davies; but you can’t please everybody), so here, strictly to please myself, is the cantata ’Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’, BWV51. My friend Sharif has come up with a poem, so I’ll add that in with permission [and as Sharif and I are both volunteers on the phone credit programme, this brings us back to 'my life as a volunteer'.]

Poetry
Sharif Hasrat
At the desert of my heart
You came from unknown
You rise from nothing
You lush like a rose
From the dust
I rise to you the sun of my soul to grow you up
I watered you with the midst of my lips and years to quench your thirst
you had no shade
And the shade that you had
Was made from my being
To you
If I were not there
You would not be
You came to me
For God created me and then all things to me
The shining sun made you dry
The passing nights made you grey
Your beauty fade away
But the love that you earned from my heart
Grew day by day
You forgot all
For the time made you pride in the mirror of selfish
so one day when I needed shade
you went away
with a passing caravan
We all alone we all die alone
None is for anyone
Thanks for reminder

 

 

Leave a Reply

What's this?

You are currently reading DAY 228: Viral at Luke Hodgkin.

meta