The Gollywogs Have Gone! Highlights of the Week

Sunday . I’m one of four panelists including Jeremy Hardy on left at the Clore ballroom of Southbank Centre for Women of the World festival’s  MENTALK.  If you take the K from MENTALK….. The Southbank Centre is buzzing. I sit in an art installation called Speakers corner. There’s a silent woman sat next to me – the artist – playing an Iranian taxi driver. After seven minutes of listening to the poetry form the car speakers  I  realize it’s my friend from Manchester – Shabnam. It’s a great moment.  She tells me there is a live feed broadcast inside the festival hall.  Tuesday. A car crash.  I am in a car crash. My article on interracial adoption goes on line and stands centre  in a digital  firestorm of response.   Tuesday night I perform Night Rain at the Purcell Rooms, Southbank Centre.  Magical.  Wednesday I meet Marian from The Letterbox Club at Southbank Centre  and visit Caro Howell the  director of The Foundling Museum.

On Thursday I travel to Manchester to give a speech at Children England Conference. Nice cakes there. I begin with the words “After seventeen years in care I can safely say that I am an expert on the matter. I can also safely say that being an expert does not make me right.”. Inspirational. ( Is that “confusing”  you Katharine Birbalsingh.)   Thursday night I meet  friends.  I stay at an apartment in Piccadilly.  I hear Wigan Council have ordered the gollywogs off their Market stalls.  I receive a text from the cyclist to say she’s okay.

On Friday night back  in London I record the  for BBC World Service. To think they’ll hear it in Addis.  On Saturday morning it’s broadcast with live guest Kate Adie.  I listen and  pack for Addis Ababa where I’m giving some talks and readings for The Dickens Bicentenary.   Ethiopian Airlines lands in Addis tomorrow –   Mothering Sunday.  My father was a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines.  It’s going to be some kind of deep journey and I’m nervous and inspired. Some kind of nervous. Some kind of inspired.  All is good.

Photo from top.  1. Coffee with comedian Jeremy Hardy 2. Speakers Corner with artist  Shabnam Shabazi  3. Cakes at the conference in Manchester 4.  With artist “I’m making a real bridge out of Meccano” Liam Curtis  5. With dancer and Southbank Centre Artist in residence  Gauri Tripathi holding Alchemy brochures.


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