Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Still off the air
The main site, that is - still off the air. The hosts are incompetent. Time for a change, I think.
Spent most of the day in a junior school with a fellow writer talking about Europe and refugees (Norwich being one of six European Cities of Refuge, an altogether good and noble thing). Two classes of ten year-olds. School neat, orderly, military-friendly. Teachers watch us like hawks or, rather, like concerned mother hens with a sharp eye here and readiness to peck there. The first class was delightful and full of life and enthusiasm. The teacher of the second class clearly did not want us there. We get in the way of the national curriculum and the junior school equivalent of hospital corners. Minimal unfriendly introduction, no goodbye, no smile. The class perfectly nice.
It's quite a long time since I have been in a junior school. I forget how small and pre-teen the children are. I am not sure I altogether wanted to be there. I don't do such things for money. Time is far more valuable to me, but since this was to do with refugees I couldn't say no. But how the idea of Europe fits together with the idea of refugees is a matter rather too complex for young children to work out. I am not quite sure whether I myself have.
We talk about what they think Europe is, what it might be, who lives there and where, what it feels like, and what sort of person it might be if it were human. We mention countries and explore ways in which countries have expanded and shrunk or even disappeared and reappeared, and how the idea of a series of stable nations, settled for millennia, is misleading, and how not just people but places move around, how people find themselves living in isolated pockets (Darlings, the world is a dark place and the ground beneath your feet can turn to quicksand, so be glad and be nice to each other) and we talk a little about why refugees might come to Europe though more go to Asia and Africa, about European power and empire and about being welcoming or wary. The idea is that they should write a letter to Europe. But to say what? That is not clear.
Then the BBC come in and make a series of digital letter-films, each two minutes long, based on the letters. In some respects the project is deeply micro-managed (I loathe being micro-managed), in other respects it hasn't really grasped the concepts it is dealing with. But some of the letters sound bright and touching.
In the morning to a local comprehensive to do the same thing, then down to London for a PBS meeting, closely followed by a meeting with the Hungarian Cultural Centre. I can't go on doing seven things at once for ever. I feel exhausted. Who does time gallop withal? Well, me for a start.
Also wrote blurbs for two books this evening. Two more to do. The Collected Blurbs of George Szirtes will be a considerable tome. Not so much blurb whore (no one ever pays me) as blurb nymphomaniac. Or, more likely, blurb sex-slave.