Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Airport Homeless

Read an article recently in the Evening Standard:

"The Dispossessed: How this woman was saved from a life of sleeping rough with Heathrow’s homeless"

Which reminded me of an evening a few months ago when I did just that.I was working in Gatwick airport and had gone on a short trip to France and at the end of the trip arrived back to my 'work' destination. I'd arrived late and by the time I got out of the snaking midnight immigration queue, had already missed the last train. The funny thing was I didn't think of staying in a hotel (my student-save-money instinct kicked in) but decided to wait it out so that I could just get into the office in the morning. After all, it was only for 6 hours and I could go straight to work which was in the Longbridge House building in the North Terminal.

Gatwick was one of those airports which didn't shut down - no flights operated- but there were plenty of people waiting it out by sleeping. Some slept on the uncomfortable wooden benches, claiming the entire row like a settee....some curled along the walls, under escalators. The smarter ones went upstairs and slept on the Costa Coffee sofas. What I I had no idea was that some of them were genuine homeless people who'd found a 'safer' place to sleep than the streets.

It was the most uncomfortable night I've encountered - was upright most of the time (which was terribly bad for the back) and couldn't sleep which produced a buzzing lightheadedness compounding into a headache. My only consolation was that it would only last a few more hours. Passed the time checking mail on the internet terminal kiosk (which had a crappy screen) and looking for a better place to sit. By the time sunrise came at 4am, I had a genuine urge to flush my head in the toilet - the dazed, headachy feeling was that bad.My colleagues couldn't believe nor understand why I didn't want to check into the Yotel at least...Right now I don't understand it either.

After that one night in the airport, I have genuine sympathy for these people. I think I was meant to read this article and understand the overall terrible sufferings of being homeless. (which sleeping in the airport is only just a small part of it) If 6 hours was that bad, I couldn't imagine a few weeks, a few months of not being able to sleep in peace. I count my blessings for having a proper bed to lie in everyday.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Summer songs

For some reason this Swedish kinderlieder is playing in my head. It couldn've been triggered by the visit to IKEA with Jas last weekend in Huddersfield which brought back fond memories of life in Umea, or it could've been seeing the word 'Sommer' on Facebook. It was funny to see the Princess Tarts, Marzipan rolls and Swedish Meatballs sitting in the IKEA cafe display just like how Princess Tarts, Marzipan rolls and Swedish Meatballs would in Samhallsvetarhuset cafe, except this was a memory 30 months ago and a few thousand miles away.

My local 'mentor', Lorentz Edberg, gave me some music song sheets as I told him it would be nice to learn some Swedish songs. This was on the front page -which also happens to be the 'unofficial' closing song Swedish school children sing before the summer holidays.

I like the lyrics as it shows the happiness of summer through a child's eyes - sun, flowers, bees, birds, trees and freckles.

The child in the song wisely reminds us ; 'The summer is ours" - and so we should enjoy it.


Och nu så vill jag sjunga
Att sommaren är skön
Och träden är så fina
Och marken är så grön
Och blommorna är vackra
Och höet luktar gott
Och solen är så solig
Och vattnet är så vått
Och lilla fågeln flyger
I boet ut och in.
Och därför vill jag sjunga
Att sommaren är min.

Och jag vill också sjunga
Att fjärilar är bra
Och alla söta myggor
Dom vill jag också ha
Och jag är brun om bena
Precis som det ska va
Och därför vill jag sjunga
Att bruna ben är bra

Och jag har nya fräknar
Och prickigt sommarskinn
Och därför vill jag sjunga
Att sommaren är min.

Summer Song
And now I want to sing
The summer is beautiful
And the trees are so fine
And the land is so green
And the flowers are beautiful
And hay smells good
And the sun is so sunny
And the water is so wet
And the little bird fly
In the nest and out.
And so I sing
The summer is mine.

And I also want to sing
The butterflies are good
And all the sweet mosquitoes

Dom, I would also have
And I'm brown on the bone
Just as it should huh
And so I sing
To brown the bones are good

And I have new freckles
And dots summer skin
And so I sing
The summer is mine.

Written by the ingenious Astrid Lindgren, creator of the beloved Pippi Longstocking.