Monday, 2 February 2009

Are you sitting comfortably?

At the weekend I gave a group a short chataround of the place I work. They come from all over the world, largely having been displaced from distant news-ticker territories of the world: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Angola, Senegal, Sudan, Senegal.

Their previous experiences of 'my industry' seemed to suggest that their expectations had been shaped by one or more threads of colonial claptrap or by the witterings of sycophantic parrots back home (we have them too).

Thoughtless cliches abound about diversity and multiculturalism, and some of them ring hollower than others when you hear them every day. However, it's genuinely touching when an unlikely stateless someone grasps a point of connection in an unlikely, homely something.

Traditional building methods, pots, herbs, the hanging and drying of meat, the place of fire as a focus for the household and family, textile production techniques - one woman sat back and told me, smiling and shaking her head, "you know, I just can't believe how much is the same in my country."

Which seems like a good place to begin, if you ask me.

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