I made some cryptic notes last November 29th when we were still living in London. I found them again this morning in a notebook subsumed during our relocation.
I had recently read Harry Mathews’ 20 Lines and was thinking about diaries at the time. I had been looking for patterns among my daily experiences that I could or should write about. I was also busy trying to build a commercial outlet for my photography, something I could continue when we moved to Dublin.
The expansion of these re-found notes could go like this or perhaps something entirely different. My surreality is not yours.
I joined up some dots today and found a disturbing picture. I concluded that the dots weren’t really there to be joined up. I was simply there to see dots, random experiences that tell not one story but many, the only limit being imagination.
We’re standing outside the Saudi Arabian embassy on Curzon Street in London. We were protesting about the ongoing and arbitrary detention of blogger Raif Badawi, currently serving a 10-year sentence in Saudi Arabia. Raif Badawi is also awaiting the remaining 950 of 1000 lashes. He used to blog uncomfortable truths. We could see embassy CCTV cameras watching us. Spook like creatures were smoking while making notes, overtly standing across the road from us. It’s hard to know who such people serve. We assumed that there were covert watchers too. We held up posters of Badawi for passing motorists who mostly averted their eyes.
A young Metropolitan Police Officer stepped out of a van just down the road. She arrived with a revolver and a taser strapped to her body armour. She also carried a notebook. She sought to confirm that our permit for the pavement protest was in place. All very good natured, official without being officious, she made her enquiries and notes. She was obviously part of the diplomatic police force. Our democratic right to protest was protected provided we obeyed certain rules. She seemed to know we had a slot to start at 10:30. She asked us to be sure to stay on the pavement and neither pester nor impede passers-by.
We’re heading for home at around 1400 and it was clear there was something bad happening. There were assorted sirens wailing in the distance and we saw some police vans moving very quickly through the streets. We heard people talking on the street. They had been getting texts, messages and calls from concerned colleagues, friends and family. A convicted terrorist had been killed on London Bridge after he murdered two other people. The details became clear a few hours later. Recidivism wasn’t factored into the management of this terrorist after his release on so called ‘licence’.
We dined with a human rights campaigner on the occasion of her birthday. Lots of mezzes, hot and cold, served in Ishbilia, a much favoured restaurant in Knightbridge. This human rights campaigner was very likely to be harassed if not arrested and jailed shortly after this, when she returned to her home country. She blogs uncomfortable truths about both sides of the argument.
The Graham Norton show was on TV when we got home at the end of a very long day. His guests were all there for their Christmas book and album promotions. Chef Jamie Oliver was there together with two of the Clinton family and comedian David Mitchell. Oliver told how a G20 dinner went in Downing Street. Someone had thought it was a good idea to have the chefs come from Fifteen, a restaurant business Oliver built for disadvantaged youths, people with drug and alcohol problems, who were often unemployed, many homeless and most with criminal records. His chefs were allowed carry their kitchen knives into No. 10. Then the G20 leaders wanted to be photographed with them. Forgiveness. Trust. Hope. Brilliant.
We live in a very strange world.