Sunday, October 04, 2015

Refugees Rugby Railways Drains and Fire

A strange combination of events over the past couple of days lead to the perhaps slightly odd title of this blog post,

Taking  a Friday afternoon West Country train from London Paddington station  with a view to attending a school  governors' meeting, where the distance from home warranted an overnight stay,  the journey seemed routine enough at first. However shortly before arriving at Bristol enroute to its Devon destination the guard announced that the service was to terminate at Bristol so that the train could be requistioned  to take huge crowds of people to the England v Australia Rugby match.

Sadly the excitement engendered by the rugby insofar as English fans are concerned, came to nought following the match  with Australia  later on Saturday night.

The school was suffering from a plumbing issue when I arrived with water even dripping through the refectory ceiling which reminded me very much of early days HCPT pilgrimages when the Ste Suzanne Hotel in Lourdes dripped water through the dining room and everywhere else.

During the overnight stay at the school I was introduced to two refugees who were also staying in guest rooms. Neither was from Syria but one was from Algeria and the other from Tangier.   Personal views of the crisis in the Middle East can be hugely affected when coming across individuals who are directly affected as was the case a few years ago with people I met who had fled Baghdad    and soon  who  became friends.

The Algerian was able to speak in halting English and told me that he had been knifed 7 times leading him to flee his country and take shelter with a centre in Bristol.

The Moroccan was more articulate but my impression was that he was really an economic migrant. Morocco after all still seems comparatively free. Mrs Maytrees, maytrees max and myself all spent an enjoyable holiday there  some 34 years ago and even  then attended mass. I did not quite believe that the situation in Tangier had changed so enormously. There was then at least, also a CoE church and large grave yard for Christian burials.Tangier also  seemed comparatively wealthy with bustling streets and markets. I recollect the railway line there also skirting the beach.

Possibly all that has changed in the intervening years  but if so there has been little publicity that I have seen. Of course there is a huge disparity between the rich and the poor as beggars outside the El Minzah hotel  (used years earlier by the late Winston Churchill) illustrate all too well but such disparities sadly exist in London and throughout the world. I  do not know the whole history but was not too surprised  to learn that the UK authorities are seeking to deport the Moroccan.

Even Algeria to the best of my recollection is not subject to the dreadful ISIL type atrocities being committed in Syria. However the Algerian refugee had  been subjected to life threatening violence which he haltingly described and in his position had I been able to flee, surely I would have done so as well. Hopefully his background will make an impact on the UK immigration authorities.

Speaking with them both late on Friday night made me appreciate how fortunate  the maytrees family has been.

To add to the above the governors' meeting the next day  was also  unusual in that just as I was about to take some coffee, the fire alarms for the whole school sounded loudly meaning that governors staff cohorts of children and workers throughout the estate had to abandon their work and congregate in the quad.

The journey back to London seemed quite routine by comparison with the events of the previous 24 hours.

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