Monday 11 April 2016

Bristol? £8,000

I spent the weekend at the Calais 'Jungle'. Yes, it's still there. Several thousand people who have fled the chaos caused by those who have plenty of money for wars in the Middle East and Africa, and now for barbed wire on the channel coast. I met some wonderful people: Abidkhan, Azama, Atieyb, Agely, Passel, and many others. I went there with Calais Sessions musicians, brilliantly organised by Vanessa Lucas-Smith, Carl Burgess and … the list is long. Much of the weekend sessions were recorded by Danny Rowe who managed to contribute bass guitar to his recording work. The 'studio' was a makeshift hut whose plastic roof flapped its rhythm to the music below. I spent some of the time 'teaching' guitar, but quickly roles were reversed. After 30 minutes of C, G, A and F chords, Assi thanked me, smiled and asked if I'd like to learn Ethiopian Tizita pentatonic scales. I wrote them down and am already playing them – badly! The conditions there are terrible and the stories I listened to as bad. Atieyb who had brought his guitar on the long journey north. It only had two strings. Next visit – take some strings. One young Syrian didn't want to play guitar, but told me he liked to be close to music. 'It gives me', he said, 'sanity'. Why did he want to get to the UK. All his family had been killed – 'I don't want to talk about that, but my sister is in Bristol. I want to go therel.' Can anyone give me one reason why he shouldn't? His only chance right now is to find £5000 for the armed smuggling gangs whose white vans can be seen 'hanging out' on the surrounding roads. Guaranteed passage is £8000. But payment in cash and up front. The situation is disgusting. I would like to force David Cameron to learn some guitar chords and send him to Calais to teach. Wait a minute. I wouldn't wish to be responsible for adding to these people's misery. More photos later (thanks Sarah Smith for this one) and here is Calais Sessions:

photo: Sarah Smith

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