Saturday, 20 October 2007

With my students in the Winterbourne


Friday morning was so crisp and sunny that it seemed a good idea to visit the gardens on campus. One of the most significant differences between the Winterbourne Gardens and Handsworth or Black Patch Park is that the former is quite private and the others very public.
We'd visited Handsworth Park on Thursday, met people and took Oscar with us. [The photo is of the celebratory opening of the restored bandstand in Handsworth Park in May 2005]

At the gate of Handsworth Park a man introduced himself as 'Doctor Street' and raised the issue of how far the park had been funded by the wealth of empire, in particular from the profits of slavery. We debated this in the gateway of the park as the students watched and concluded a discussion that had begun quite aggressively with a warm embrace. 'Parks are for conversations. That includes courting, companionship, general conviviality and of course policital debate'. Strolling on, we encountered a couple with their child sitting on a park bench overlooking the pond. I asked if they were local especially as the wife was part veiled. The man said he was visiting from Hong Kong, but felt really safe in the park.

Oscar wouldn't be allowed in the Winterbourne Gardens which are part of Birmingham University. We were there with two of my Japanese students and Alex my friend and colleague, asking them to consider what they had learned during their stay, how they'd make sense of that when they plunged back into the stream of Japanese life on returning home, and how they'd maintain their learning. We felt the gardens posed a classic contrast between public and private and, because it was such a lovely dewy October morning, that the beauty of the gardens would fix things in some special way for them.
* * *
Today to celebrate the arrival of a letter inviting my daughter to be ready to start her new job in mid-November. She drove off to work and 'to watch the rugby'. I took the 16 bus home, where comes the news by phone that six new children are moving into Mains of Faillie. 'I hope they enjoy it as much as we all did' said Amy.
This was a picnic by the little loch above Faillie in 1987. L to R - Lin, Amy, me, Richard, Susie, Angus, mum, Anthony and my eldest sister Bay. Now in late 2007 my mother has at last sold her old home and so can repay the swingeing bridging loan that's been taking interest off her for the last six months, and enjoy her new home further down the strath without encumbrance.

An e-mail from the Middle East says my friend from Irak will be here before the end of the month.

A phone call to Corfu, a little muffled, and Dave assured me the lower roof on 208 Democracy Street has been secured. 'It'll all be done when you arrive in January.'

* * *

I'm aching and feeling less than chirpy with the two jabs I had this morning at our GP - one for flu (left arm), one for influenza (right).

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