Monday, July 31, 2006


So yesterday at church we had an own arrangement service and andrew had put together some interactive creative prayer ideas from our pray without ceasing awe service and i spoke a bit about my time in Israel/Palestine. helen and chris came along to hear my stories, which I appreciated, though i am immensely jealous that they will be going out with highway projects to Jordon in just over a month.

So I shared stories of working in Raineh, introducing the teenagers who were in my group, the facilitators who helped with translation. I talked of the camp partners, the local episcopal church, the arab association of human rights, the local council and highway projects. The games we played, the workshops on womens rights, living with disabilities (blindness in this case), how the media distorts stories, promoting non-violence. Our trip to see a mosque forced into disrepair by being surrounded by jewish settlers, the graffitti that spoke of death to arabs scrawled on it's walls. A trip to a water park where it's the norm for leaders of jewish parties to walk around in their swimsuit with automatic weapon strapped to their backs. Imagining what impression these images must make on arabs growing up in an environment where they are feared to an extent that protecting yourself with such weaponry is acceptable. Our trip to a mosque and a church in the village, promoting interfaith relations within the arab community, and of course sharing the sad news of being caught within a war zone. Our departure to a safer haven, whilst leaving our friends in a place of danger and uncertainty.

And as Hezbollah continue to rage a war born out of frustration of the way israel seems to treat it's indiginous arab neighbours, the response is of such disproportion it makes me almost sick to hear about it. A campaign that has killed countless civilians, hundreds of children and is condemned by the UN. Yet it continues, and this morning I am frustrated listening to an Israeli MP justify the onslaught and killing of innocents as the fault of Hezbollah using human shields. This kind of argument is so poor, it beggars belief. They say, we have given the lebanese warnings to leave their homes. I say, but where do they go, how do they leave, how will they live once displaced? The bombs of Israel do not discriminate between man and women, adult and child, christian and muslim. Hezbollah's return strikes are likewise indiscriminate between arab and jew. The resolution of the situation is simple, as we wrote on our flag in Raineh - No more violence. Both sides could stop tomorrow, but there are agendas that seems to weigh more heavily then the price of human life. It is a sad situation. A word of wisdom from the muslim chaplain at cambridge uni on radio 4 this morning suggested that in it's true form religions would live harmoniously seeking truth and justice, at such a time politicians would draw up boundary lines, and the religious would seek to transcend them.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

End of an era

So tonight saw the last episode of top of the pops and with it the end of an era. Of course the decision to end the long running programme is probably correct, having not watched an episode for quite some time, now that music is on demand 24/7. However, it was still a fairly sad occasion. I remember the odd episode being watched by my baby sitters as a kid, but it wasn't until the late summer of 1987 did I really become enthralled with pop music, and it was from this date that every thursday evening I would be glued to bbc1. I'd get my tape recorder and place it as close as possible to the tv set and record the tracks that I liked, so I could listen to them again. I still have the tapes, and I even did my own commentry. There has been some really memorable episodes, but i think the performance of 'smells like teen spirit' by nirvana was like some kind of epiphany. All of a sudden everything I thought music should be was turned on it's head and I started listening to more and more obscure guitar based bands and also delving into the past, particularly music from the 60s. All sparked by a performance on TOTP, I find it hard to think how an act could make such an impact these days.
I'm also quite pleased to know that I was once in the audience for a TOTP show, as it went on tour in the late 90s, visiting sheffield where I was really excited to see a performance by Mel C. My head was just about visible in one of the shots of the episode, and the Macy Grey perfomance of I Try has appeared on numerous TOTP2 outings.
It was great to see Sir Jimmy Savile, being his usual exuberent self, still living the totp dream with over the top golden shell suit, that's what totp was all about. A shame there was no clips of A Flock Of Seagulls, who perhaps sported the most outrageous hairstlyes of any totp performers.

So totp leaves and enters the realms of nostalgia, and I'm sure it will be remembered with fondness.

It's still number one, it's Top of the Pops!

Friday, July 28, 2006

The hum drum

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

I get back from mission and the week feels a bit like this cartoon, nothing really happens. The normality of work, eat and sleep is in stark contrast to the last weeks of engagement and everyday new experiences. It's difficult to process and get back into the swing of 'normality', though it does highlight the fact that I would really rather do something else than this work-a-day lifestyle.

Anyway, this morning I was reminded of my travels as my friend, Joy Adams, was on this morning's 'Pause for thought' on radio 2. I've known Joy for a few years now, after meeting on a methodist placement trip to India. She was also on a highway projects team, working at a children's camp in Nazareth. Today she shared her thoughts about being caught in a war zone and the sadness felt at having to leave. It is possible to listen to it again for the next week here. It is about 20 minutes into the programme, so that you can skip a bit, cos if you are like me, you will find Sarah Kennedy extremely annoying.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Highway Projects trip

So how do I articulate my experiences of the last fortnight or so? Wandering in the wilderness outside jericho, floating in the dead sea, working in Raineh, meeting new friends, eating falaffal, hearing bombs land, seeing places christ walked, being evacuated, seeing jerusalem, helping on another project, experiencing a little of the struggle faced by arab israelis, learning some arabic, being quiet.

It's impossible to place all my thoughts on the matter into a concise blog, so i won't. My journal is pages long, and I shan't be replicating it here, I shall probably write a little about some of the projects later. In the meantime, I suggest if you want to hear more about the experience I'd be more than willing to come and talk at a function/event/service etc. My photos are now uploaded onto a flickr set and will be anotated over the coming days.

I also can't recommend the work of highway projects enough, so if you are interested in doing some mission work next year, give this a thought.

John and Suzanne's wedding

So I got back into the country saturday evening, after a hassle free passage through security at the airport in Tel Aviv and a fairly nice flight, though it was delayed a little due to the thunder storms in London. Chris came and picked me up and I stayed the night at his house, he is a super star. Set off just after 0800 from hemel to Liverpool for my friends wedding, stopped for some fuel and picked up three polish students who were hitching their way to some hippy festival in Yorkshire. Dropped them off at watford gap where I found another hitch hiker looking for a lift to the M6, so I took him onwards. Finally I reached Liverpool and that is when the location problems began, suddenly the sign posts decided that the name of the road was no longer important, so as I was looking for the A-such and such, all I got was vague locations. Inevitably I got lost, and I found a number of locals whom I asked for directions, most of whom turned out to be incoherent to my ears. The first girl gesticulated towards some road, saying go along till you come to a park, and then spent a good few minutes describing what a park looked like, it's like a lot of green grass, not a small bit, but a big bit. Yeah cheers, i know what a park is, the thing i don't understand is which is the road that you mean from the seventeen that congregate here!

Eventually I arrived at the correct location where I met up with an old school friend, rebek. We've both known John all our lives, having been through school together and amazingly still kept in touch. The wedding started at 3, and it has been some time since i was last able to see John, and the difference the ravages of his illness had made as quite telling, and it upset me to see him like that. However, once chatting with him, it was clear he was the same old John, and the frailities of his body dissolved away. Suzanne looked absolutely stunning, she is such a wonderful girl, and has gone to great lengths to help john in his illness and arrange the early marriage ceremony.

After a wonderful meal there were some heartfelt and emotional speeches, as Suzanne's father, a staunch Liverpool fan like John and Suzanne, handed John the ticket to the European Semi Final match that he missed for the birth of his daughter, he told about all the heroes he had seen in the liverpool shirt, but none more worthy of wearing the strip than John. Then John spoke, and mentioned how great it was to have his dad at his side after his father's long serious illness at the turn of the new year. John is so lucky to have found someone like Suzanne and I'm pleased to count them as my friends.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So yesterday, after just emailing one of our helpers up in Nazareth, I hear the news that the town has been struck twice, killing a couple of brothers. It's really sad news and makes me wish I was still there all the more, I just want to be able to hug my friends. I'm sure the camp will be cancelled again, it is such a shame. This situation causes so much pain. I hear that one of the strikes could be seen from the house I was staying at. It's also more and more difficult to hear news of strikes in Israel, as the news has become bored of that and is now focussing on the evacuation of foreign nationals from lebanon.

We have found some work to do nearby, helping at tent of nations which has a really great philosophy, run by a wonderful christian arab on whose land the camp is set. It just feels a bit odd cos we are only there a couple of days, and I don't really feel the contection that I did up in Raineh.

Back at the weekend Insh'Allah

Monday, July 17, 2006

we've moved

We've had to move south to jerusalem due to the very close proximity of some missiles last night. Although we all felt safe in Nazereth with our friends, it is only the sensible option to move out of range. It was vey sad and emotional to leave our friends, especially as i think we were getting on really well with the kids. Hopefully we can find some work to do whilst here, providing the situation does not escalate further.

will blog more on my return no doubt

Sunday, July 16, 2006

the situation


This is just a quick post. The project is going well, and I am getting to know the kids and also a little arabic. It has been fun and tiring work, but I get a real sense that they are pleased to have english people amongst them and helping with their summer camp.

We have also had chance to do a few touristy things, and this weekend the groups in nazereth met to have a time of relaxation before our second week. Yesterday we went for a tour around the sites around the sea of galilee. It was really quite an odd feeling to be reflecting in these places that Jesus was (or at least very close to) and hearing the distant thunderous noises of bombs in the background.

In nazereth we are currently our of range, but the repercussions are felt here, as we know people whose relatives live there, and even people who work in the areas being hit. Of course they are worried that the violence will escalate, and we continue to pray for peace. Hopefully we will be able to finish our work here, but things are in place should the advice change and we have to move to a safer location. I would find this a very difficult situation, though of course the sensible option, as we will have to leave friends here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stuff to do

mow the lawn, pack my bags, watch the football......

talking of which it's made my life a bit more easy in a logistical way has this england defeat. It means that I now don't have to wait for the end of the semi final tomorrow to travel down to hemel. It also means I don't have the potential of missing england in a world cup final cos I'm in the house of a palestian family who are not interested in the football.

Anyway, met up with my m+d and sister on sunday to celebrate my mum's b'day and my m+d's wedding anniversary, pearl, and would you credit it, wilko's actually stock pearl wedding anniversary cards! They're a bit rubbish, but I had to get it. That shop stocks everything! nice to see them, but i was hoping to go and see my friend, he's very ill at the moment, and was too ill for visitors. His wedding has been moved forward, and thankfully i am just back from israel so shall be able to attend. His ill health has been a worry to me too, he's a very good friend, and we've know each other since we were small kids.

So what to do whilst I'm away and you are bored, waiting for additional blogs. Well i suggest you browse some of my links to the right. I'd also like to point out that helen c of made in deptford fame, has re-started her blog.

and if you've got some money to spend on clothes, why not take a visit to people tree, cos they have a sale on their superb range of organic and fair trade clothes.

see you all soon

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Getting ready

So it's not long now before I leave for israel to join a highway project. I shall be based mainly in a town called raineh, which is very close to nazareth, where I'll be taking part in helping to run a summer school for palestinian muslim and christian teenagers. I'm really looking forward to it, but there's all that stress of getting everything ready, buying all kinds of bits and pieces for games, clothes to keep me cool. Today I bought a hat, but it makes me look like an extra from 'it ain't half hot mum'. I also bought a pair of sandals the other day, these were offically endorsed by the english FA, and I'm sure that gerrard, beckham and the rest of the england team are wearing identical ones around the hotel. I'm sure their wages could cover the £10 cost for the pair. In fact, these sandals may be the source of the fairly non-descript form that england are showing. You see, i wore mine today, and they really rub on your heel, so perhaps the england team are suffering from sore heels or similarsandal induced ailment.
There are of course slight concerns to the current situation in israel at the moment. Although we won't be anywhere near the gaza strip, the reporcutions will be felt countrywide. I hope to drop a few lines about the trip on my return.