Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lift, game and swept.

1. I've been told to meet my lift at the station. I know her name, and what car she'll be driving. I get in and introduce myself, and she looks at me and says: "I know you!" And she does -- it's a colleague from my first stint at the Courier.

2. A simple game helps me to understand. My editor has packed me off to a slum simulation run by Global Hand, a humanitarian organisation in Tunbridge Wells. In groups we make bags out of newspaper and paste. We have to sell to shopkeepers to earn money for food and rent and -- eventually -- to send one of our children to school. I discover that poverty means you don't have the time or the energy to think about the best way to proceed. And that you are everyone's bitch. The landlord changes the rent with no notice, and the shopkeepers pay what they like, so we never knew how many bags we'd have to make to survive. I discovered that you do the unthinkable to escape -- we sold one of our daughters to escape from slave labour, and I tried to cheat one of the shopkeepers.

3. The mother has transformed the back garden, and she suggests strongly that I might like to have a go at the front. I trim the hedge -- which has needed doing since the start of winter. Then I give the path a good rough sweeping. I love the look and feel of damp, swept bricks. She leaves me with a weeding knife, and I'm actually looking forward to doing the edges.