Saturday, 10 September 2011
My eldest grandson, Harry (aged 6) was sent home from school yesterday with chickenpox. I don't think I have ever had chickenpox, but that probably means I never will - famous last words. He came in the day before yesterday (Thursday Sept 8) after school (I live next door) to tell me about a school trip he had been on that day, to Sea World in Edinburgh. He had seen a shark and a stingray, and been allowed to handle a starfish. I thought he looked remarkably well, better than he has for a while. Maybe that was because the 10 day 'incubation period' was over and he was about to break out into spots. As I write this, Tony Blair is being interviewed live on BBCR4 about 9/11 and 7/7. Mention is being made of the difference between 'Islam' and 'Islamism'. Some years ago, I used to make a regular bus journey on the number 328 from the Chelsea Bun (the route's southern terminus point) to visit a friend for a drink and an early evening meal in Notting Hill. I arrived at the stop and noticed that - unusually - four 328 buses were parked, lined up back down the road. It was dusk. After a few minutes, the door of the front bus opened, and four drivers emerged. As they got out, one turned to me with a smile and said 'we were just breaking our ramadan fast'. That was a turning point of a sort for me. Another, not associated with Islam, occured several years earlier. I was on a packed red London bus travelling down Park Lane and noticed to my surprise that not only was I the only English person on the bus, including the driver and the other passengers, I was the only native English speaker - everyone else was chattering away in other languages. I related this experience at an open meeting in Edinburgh to discuss 'multiculturalism' and was hissed merely for recounting it.