Lunch at The Houses of Parlaiment

Noon.  The Journalist and I pass the statue of Oliver Cromwell  on the gangway into The Houses of Parlaiment.  I am reading at a lunch here in aid of NORCAP  but first there’s a drinks reception on the terrace. At arms length the Thames rolls by. The lunch is  hosted by Kate Adie who gives an enlightening  talk on the history of adoption  and then  introduces me.  I end my reading  thus

“if you are an adopted child and you search for your birth parents  it is a reflection of the quality and care from your adoptive parents but if you choose not to  search then…”   I paused for a millisecond. The audience is filled with adoptive parents  “then it is  a reflection of the quality and care from your adoptive parents.”  

I spoke to Kate Adie about her speech.  “When I give talks” she said “I learned a long time ago to only speak at events I know about or believe in”.  As I am not
reading poetry on stage until October 2010  her words were a comfort.   The warm presence of Claire Short  made my day. And that she enjoyed my reading
made it  moreso .  She resigned from The Cabinet over the Iraq war. Star.

Afterwards we all eat  lunch.  The Journalist and I  sit with Ruth Fainlight and her husband Allan Sillitoe  who wrote The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner.
 I must buy  Ruth’s book Burning Wire. We spoke throughout dinner about Ethiopia and Eritrea.  Fainlight is fun and the conversation was like the water,   clear and sparkling.   But when Mrs Fainlight  spoke of her brother Harry Fainlight  there was a flicker across the screen of her spirit.   I shall seek out his poems.

Chris waterman, who made this event happen,   stood and tapped his wine glass then held  auction of art pieces donated to raise money for NORCAP.   A  piece given by Tracey Emin” was won by  Kate Adie. A strange tinkling bell rang  throughout the commons.    “It’s a call to prayer for the MP’s” said  Waterman “
bit like  a mosque”  
 whispered the journalist.    “…as salamu alaykum”   I whispered.

4 thoughts on “Lunch at The Houses of Parlaiment

  1. Hi Lemn,
    Thanks for sharing your speech.
    I believe that searching for birth family has nothing to do with the adoptive parent(s). That's what adoptive parents often mis-understand whether they provide love and care or not….the bond between child and birth parent(s) is the most natural thing and therefore searching is natural and a basic human right even when what we (the adoptee) find may not be pleasant. Too often adoption is viewed from the perspective of the adoptive parent(s) and not enough from the adopted child. That has been my experience and that of many adoptees I have interacted with. Poshora

  2. Hi Lemn
    Just been checking through your blog, what a busy guy!!!!!!!!
    However, I didn't find anything about the growing Habesha asylum/refugee community, who often have heart-breaking stories, and live misunderstood and in great difficulty here. I just think it would be great if you could highlight their lives the way you have done for adoption issues.
    Myself, I live in Longsight, Manchester, sharing my house with homeless asylum-seekers. I often saw your name on the Hardy's Well wall, and wondered from your name if you were Habesha – I've been blessed to know a few Sissay's.
    If you've time, check out my (very occasional) blog at

  3. Cor. Posting on this thing feels like trying to break into prison. Lots of bars and things that look like barbed wire across perfectly innocent-looking letters.
    Anyway. I was there. I enjoyed your reading. Thank you for that. I also got my birth certificte to find out my name, a while back. It was blank. But I guess that's OK. I am just Vanessa.
    I have the Brand cartoon. If you really really want it, that's fine – happy to pass it on for what I paid. Drop me a line.

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