Sunday, July 31, 2005

What's happening

Guess where I've been for the past 5 days (on and off)? Yup, the Baptist World Alliance Congress (or the "BWA Jamboree" to me).

It was fascinating, it was moving, and I'm glad I went. I got to meet some interesting people; a delegate from Nigeria who gave me a CD he had recorded; a lady from Jamaica who I got into an interesting conversation with; a guy from Sierra Leone who was trying to figure out my tag as I was trying to figure out his; a Brazilian pastor who came on his own; and, along with a friend of Dave's met some folk from the Barbados delegation.

On Saturday night I listened to Rick Warren, and Jimmy Carter on the Sunday morning. I'm going to be broke next month, but it was worth it; just wish I could have found somewhere to stay for the week, rather than commuting between London and Birmingham.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'm not afraid

Yesterday I was out and about, as you do when you have a weekday off.

My plan was to go into town, get my tickets for Birmingham next week, then pop into CLC to see if I could find any resources for my Sunday School class, then to Ikea to look for a replacement for my worn-out pepper grinder.

First, I got sidetracked and visited my sister at work, to show her my first attempt at doing a Powerpoint presentation. It was simple, no tricks or anything, but flowed nicely. Unfortunately, as I later discovered, I left my USB memory stick with her, which I will recoup on Monday.

We then went into Islington and for the first time I discovered the joy of sandwiches at Pret A Manger (excuse the lack of accents over the appropriate letters). Now I know another place where I can use my luncheon vouchers :) As we parted ways, and crossed paths again, I went to find out how much it would cost to put slides on CD from Jessops. Then, a No. 30 into town to Euston.

It was weird. I sat on the top deck in one of my favourite spots, conscious of the fact that I was carrying a backpack. I also noticed the guy sitting across from me chatting away on his phone with his backpack on the seat next to him. So, I started to eat my sandwich with my bag opened (crumb collecting, as one does), and glanced at intervals whilst he happily chatted away.

After the sandwich consumption, as the bus was pretty empty, I took out my camera and looked through the photos I had taken, especially the close-ups of my keyboard. Darn, that thing needs cleaning! I can't believe in a week it collected that much fluff!!!

At Euston I passed the Krispy Kreme stall, got my tickets and made my way out to get a bus going to Holborn. So far I had missed two and had just about caught the one standing there as it was boxed in by another bus. On the way to Euston I threw away the bag with the waste from my lunch...but that sandwich was really NIIIIIIICE.

It occurred to me that I was scanning the crowd for men with backpacks heavier than mine, I was probably more alert than normal. It isn't strange in London to hear police sirens tearing up and down the road, and tune them out because it's so common. Now every time I hear one, especially in central London, my ears perk up. Yesterday about 6 motorcycle police came from the direction of Euston Station and onto Euston Road.

Tonight, as I sat here, I heard loud explosions. Turned out to be fireworks, but the noise was...loud. I looked out and could see the fireworks in the distance, but couldn't tell where it was coming from. The unsettling thing is to hear police sirens not long after, even though I'm sure it wasn't related at all.

Today I got a text message from Ruth to say that her mother passed away last night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The writing's on the wall

Often, in my travels, I pass some interesting graffiti. On my way home from the shops, whenever I see this, I smile.

Who is Henry? Does someone have a problem with him eating Fufu? What type of Fufu? Is it supposed to be derisory or is Henry's love for Fufu a widely acknowledged fact?
Maybe I'm reading too much into this...

Speaking of which, I bought me some Yam flour and made...whatever stuff Yam flour makes! It was nice too. Ate it with my own concoction sauce - I can't refer to a gravy as a "stew" when a "stew" means something totally different to me. Smoked Mackerel is an excellent accompaniment.

I'm eyeing up some Plantain Fufu to purchase next...but the Garri I'll keep my distance from (not a big fan of Cassava).

I'm sure someone thought this was cute and profound when they put it up...but it's neither. It's supposed to say: "though small move in large groups".

What's that supposed to mean?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The sound of silence

It's now all quiet, and it feels strange. I didn't think having someone around for 5 days would make such an impact on my little world.

This morning we left around 7am and made our way to the airport. During the intervening period before he went into the Departures lounge, we hung around and chatted. It seems that we never run out of things to say, but you know what? Even when he was around and we weren't talking, it was never an uncomfortable silence.

He asked if the week went as I had expected. It did, in fact the only thing I regret was being away in Birmingham overnight, but it was hard to avoid. It was also a perfect time to tell him how I felt about him, especially as it wouldn't give him any time to respond.

Perhaps that left him a bit more baffled than anything else, but as someone who doesn't "show my hand" all at once, trying to get an answer out of me was like pulling teeth. I did say however, that what I was a bit reserved in what I would like to say in the light of statements he had made over the week. I have never wanted him to feel beholden to me nor uncomfortable whilst he was here, which is why I didn't say anything before. And it was something that had transpired since my invitation to come to the UK.

It is very easy to amble along and never say a word, very hard to say how I feel about someone; such a declaration makes you vulnerable and could change the state of a very good friendship. I would rather give up the way I feel and keep that friendship, but at some point I had to be real with myself. Here I am in a situation where I have met some really good men, but I couldn't let them in because he was in view. It was important for me to get past that and find out if it was real or just in my head. Or even if it was one-sided, as I said to him I expected it might. Or maybe I'm being realistic and he is in denial.

Interesting enough, when he left I was feeling a bit sad. Am I supposed to feel like crying? It was confusing and weird. But then I got distracted by the gentleman next to me who began to talk to me. His wife was off to Tobago, and he was also planning on moving there at some point. He used to work for IBM, then began to run his own business to the point where he has remortgaged his home. It was really nice speaking to someone who was so open and in the end he said "you should go for it - pursue your dream", and wished me the best before we parted ways.

It seemed a timely encounter, especially in the light of the things that have happened during the week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Flying high

Another trip on the London Eye, this time it was the "Discovery" trip - highly recommended, especially as it comes with a guide who will point out things for a couple of pounds more than the "ordinary" flight. Last time I was positioned in the South, this time I looked North. The BT/PO tower is closest to my flat, to the right, but I can also see Canary Wharf. And I can just about make out the Millenium Dome.

In my great wisdom, having not sussed out my new digital camera yet, I didn't take more than three pictures, of which this is one. Sometimes it's hard to capture the beauty of the day and the skyline in a photo - here you get a glimpse.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Love's in need of love today

I think you can only watch so many cycles of the news before you start memorizing tracks of it.

This morning I heard the news around 9am, and went to check the BBC website about half an hour later. As time went on I began to realize that this was no power surge, after hearing of the bus explosion.

The first person who came to mind was Kerry. Around 10:30am or so she came in, her face and hands blackened with soot. She then recounted what had happened and what was going through her mind at the time. She called her parents and called work. In the evening, she sent a text message to say she's gone to her parents for a few days - which is understandable. I'm beginning to think, based on her account, that she was either at the back end of the train with the explosives on, or on the train behind - but it sounds more like the former than latter (I could be wrong).

Later in the day I called my parents to let them know that the sibs and I were fine. Earlier, someone came down to ask what had happened, and I found my voice cracking when I told her. This evening I got so many emails from people wondering if folk were ok.

I tried to contact as many people as I could to find out if they were ok, but the phone lines were "busy", as the BT voice said. My sister was planning on coming over because she probably might not be able to make it back to South London - in the end she didn't come.

If I had never taken the No. 30, or been to Tavistock Square, nor passed Kings Cross on so many occasions, my perspective might be different. Just as I felt shaken by the US Embassy in Nairobi being bombed because I had been there, the feeling is no different. We knew it would eventually happen, we just didn't think it would have happened when it did.

In Iraq last week about 200 people were killed in attacks; in London, 37+ I wonder if we'll ever hear much about the lives of those nameless faceless Iraqis who are briefly mentioned before going on to the next item. How long are we going to hear endlessly about the lives and loves of these 37+ people?

They will probably take up more space in the media than accounts of those 200 Iraqi lives ever will.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My prerogative

Maybe, just maybe, we make life a bit more complicated than it needs to be...don't you think?

It has occurred to me that I engage in retail therapy on occasion only because it helps me focus on one thing more than the other and helps me to avoid certain things. And I'm not talking about spending like it's going out of fashion because I can't control my spending. Rather, I look at the pile of paper on my living room floor that needs shredding. Now I could be shredding that, or I could be sleeping, or I could be shopping online. So naturally, I do the latter.

I had to get up early this morning partly because I had to go to the hospital for a blood test. My number was 33, I arrived about 8:50am (according to my ticket) and no.19 was up. By about 9:15am I had given my samples (cute Phlebotomist) and was looking around in the shop for a bottle of water. Thing is, now that I'm drinking water more often, I seem to get thirstier - or maybe it's just that I now notice I'm thirsty where before I didn't.

Tomorrow I was hoping to meet up with J, but forgot that I was working tomorrow evening. Will have to call or email her and let her know. I have a bit of a dilemma and I don't know if I know the answer or not. For a while I've wanted to speak to someone who won't glibly dismiss what I have to say, and she's agreed to listen...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Dance with my father

Until yesterday, I had never heard "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross. My sister raved about it some time ago, but I never got around to listening to it before now.

Almost made me cry - almost. In fact, only this week I reminisced about how I used to dance with my father when I was little, and I was quite good too. Somewhere along the line I "outgrew" that little-girl-dancing-with-father thing, but by then our relationship had changed.

Last weekend I spoke to him. In fact I had called hoping to speak with my mother, but she wasn't at home. It's always very weird talking to my father, because he speaks slowly and deliberately. As you can imagine, it takes a long time for him to say anything.

And I found out my grandmother (from my mother's side) probably passed away about 6 years ago. I'm somewhat gutted, because I've never met her. For the past few years I have tried to find out where she is, but no one seemed to know. And suddenly, in a call with my mother, she mentioned in passing that her mother had died a few years ago.

Now a part of my history that has gone that I will never be able to know about.