I have finally digitalised the choral song cycle I wrote with Boris Howarth in 1995. On soundcloud – have a listen !
We cleaned our small temporary home early,
Saying goodbye to the view of clouds
Unlike the ones we see from our windows at home
At the warehouse Karen talked about a new task.
To go to the bridge at the edge of the camp
And talk to the many people leaving the site
Trying to find our where they were heading.
Information is key in order to help.
At midday we drove away from our volunteers friends
Having prepared food for 50
Pumpkin curry, couscous, salad and the rest.
Mind and body scrambled.
Now we are driving up a dark M6
Heading to our house by the northern seaside.
We can travel freely
We have a home
We can imagine our future
We know where are family are
We are safe
We have food
We have clothes and bikes
We have pets and jobs
We have a home.
Please look at this and consider signing the petition to delay / stop the demolition
We walk along the beach at the end of the day
Huge cross channel ferries so close we could touch them
Tiny grey birds play in the shallow surf
In this strange worn out but charming seaside resort.
I ask Kathryn for her images and thoughts of the day.
She describes the sadness sorting
Boots and shoes, sweatshirts and jeans.
How many times will these have been handled
Since they were made.
Who will get them next – she wants to give
Quality gifts to these travelling people.
She shares her satisfaction in cooking for todays 50 volunteers.
Everyone here finds their role – every task is equal.
She asks me, and I share a moment at midday
At the youth area on the camp
Playing the accordion with young people.
One spent 20 minutes finding tunes on the keyboard
As I move round chords – it was beautiful.
Two together on one instrument.
Next to us in the portacabin
A French art therapist made this image
With 4 young men – she allowed them to play and dream a little.
At 4 o’clock the 2 of us drove the yellow van
Full of big plastic food boxes we packed this morning
To take to communal kitchens.
As we get close there are so many people arriving
Bags on their heads – they will hope that this is a good place.
We drive onto the site – it is so huge.
Such a strange community of souls.
Growing every day. The weeks ahead will be very tough.
We sit in a café and drink a cup of tea
A man from Pakistan comes to talk –
We played music together in April.
We smile and exchange warmth.
How I would like to spend more than these few days
To build friendships and try to support
These thousands of young and old
There are so many levels of injustice
That we witness directly
And through the media.
(Our) MP, David Morris,
Was one of those who voted to keep
3,000 innocent young people
Out of the country.
The threats of destruction
Hang over the heads of the refugees who
LIVE in the Calais Jungle.
They have homes, friendships, networks
A level of Hope.
As we drove this morning to buy
50 shampoos and 100 deodorants to put into
Bags to be given to specific ticketed people
We passed a group of refugee travellers with children
Walking beside the road heading for the camp.
Every day more arrive.
And today as we sorted food at the warehouse
More and more stuff arrived
In a full up car from Ashford.
Filled by a church group – there were 100 spice bags
Amongst tins, rice, clothes and tents.
A green transit packed to the brim from Swansea.
A hire van from London and 3 more cars.
Tears spontaneously come.
Generosity CAN combat injustice.
We just have to believe and act
Sun setting now along a rippled sandy beach
Lined with white beach huts.
We saw it rise as we drove
Through the green fields of Kent
On our way to the shuttle to France.
A day spent sorting food in the warehouse.
Making tin towers of
Rice pudding and more.
Sharing food at lunchtime with 40 volunteers.
They are of all ages, from across the UK.
Some here like us for 3 or 4 days,
Others for10 days
A few who have been here for many months.
We are all here to try and make a difference
In this crisis on our doorstep.
It is also a time to reflect.
All day long and now –
Sitting here waiting to eat a simple supper
Watching the sun turn the sky.
At 4 o’clock we went into the camp.
Accordion on my back.
It is a sad sad place yet
The people we saw smiled with us.
Dusty wooden shacks line the main street
And the grey stones make the walking hard.
There are new areas including a youth area
Which looks as it could be a place of sanctuary.
We have been told that the community leaders have asked
That volunteers are off site by 6.
As we walk away we agree that
It will be a very different place at night.
And very cold.
Our car is full again
We thought we were just taking ourselves
And money we have raised.
Then, of course, people have offered
And we have accepted.
Blankets, boots and bags
Winter coats and trays of beans and tomatoes.
An email just arrived from Care4Calais.
The crisis deepens as the threat of eviction
Is reiterated by the French leaders.
10,000 people cannot be moved simply.
It will be horrible when they try.
What will we find when we arrive tomorrow.
I know we can be useful and we will again witness
On behalf of all those friends who cannot make this journey.
Last week 32 people came to listen to stories
About our last trip to Calais
Louise’s time in Lesvos and
Sylvia’s journeys in Turkey and Lebanon.
I will write each day.
You can donate here… www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/morecambe-bay-to-calais
Today tired tears flow
I must not forget, I must
Hold the images
A day with my grandchild
With this view.
Innocent learning of 16 months
Unfettered joy and humour
She sits on the beach and the sand
Falls from her hand
She laughs and we share
Sea shells and seaweed smells.
I remember the 2 Iraqi children
Playing in the litter ridden sand
Outside the caravan whose roof I had fixed.
They had the same innocence,
The same hopes and joy in simplicity.
I would love for them to meet
“A cold coming we had of it
Such a strange time
For this journey, such a journey
The thoughts deep and the weather hot
The start of summer.
The people tired, traumatised, accepting
Sitting round in a jungle camp.
Every day we questioned ourselves
Our secure homes, joyful families
The ease with which we live our lives.”
After a final day
When we donated a generator and shelving to Jungle Books,
Underpants, socks and cash to the charity we worked for –
Care 4 Calais
Thank you for so many generous donations from friends in the UK.
Thank you for making it possible.
This was a final day when
We painted signs to aid distribution,
Talked with more refugees from
Why are they not allowed into our rich and affluent island.
What are people afraid of?
Why doe s our government see what it is doing?
How do we think we have the right to wage war in distant lands
And then refuse to accept the fallout.
“I will do it again, and set down
This, set down
This; who has the right to determine
Another’s birth or death,
Freedom of movement and direction.
I return to my home, politicised again.
Will I be at ease.
How will I change.
What is the new story I tell.
Distribution seems to be the key.
Of energy, toothbrushes, bags of rice
Tarpaulins, padlocks, blankets.
Trainers size 43, underpants, socks
Small track suit bottoms, tins of chickpeas
Bags of sugar, saucepans, sleeping bags.
From the back of a transit or a container.
In organised drops to areas of the site.
Responsive or reactive.
To people in need, of course.
We are also scared that what is donated
Ends up in shops for profit.
So many, so needy.
Who are we to control the donations.
This is the issue, worldwide.
I fix a hasp and staple and give a padlock.
The man is so happy.
We offer to buy a generator to Jungle Books
Where everyday Kathryn has been teaching.
They can print, offer wifi and maintain a service.
I graffiti a mans wall – he shares his story
Of hope and sadness.
We laugh, he brings sweet tea.
I share tunes with a man from Eritrea
Whose smile will remain etched in my mind.
As we watch the sun set
Kathryn says to me.
‘What you do, you do with the right intention.
We came here to work
Quite quickly we have found purpose
In a self directed community
At the end of this day
My body feels battered and tired.
I have been digging ditches
To let waste water drain away
Directed by Steve,
Who is creating a space of permaculture
By the Ashram kitchen, where everyday at 4
They serve free food.
He is planting willow and buying reed plants.
The long view.
At the end of this day
My hands are bruised and hurt.
We have made another 5 homes safe from rain
With tarps and rope and wood scavenged from
Broken down shelters.
Grateful smiles from men from Iraq, Afghanistan
From the Sudan and Syria.
What have we done to allow this to happen?
Kathryn tells me
From her conversations with people
Who she is teaching English
That every night some manage to get over.
Every night they try.
There is a mafia that helps – they tell her.
She says to one
‘I hope I don’t see you tomorrow’ thinking that
Maybe this is his time.
In a strange way
It is also ours.