I have been in Dubai all week. But this blog is about my return to England on International Women’s Day. I write you from The Airport Lounge in Dubai International Airport. Today is the day to link you to Deliverance. It is a thirty minute BBC radio art piece featuring the audio diaries of five women in their last stages of pregnancy. It is produced by award winning radio artists Francesca Pannetta and Lucy Greenwell of Phantom Productions. My new radio poem weaves between the narratives of the five women.
To varying degrees I’ve spent the week in the presence of many great women: Jenni Murray, Joanna trollope, Anita Anand, Isobel Abulhoul, Linda Lines, Adele parks and more. Jenni Murray the BBC presenter of Women’s Hour had her audience in tears and laughter here in Dubai. Then there are the stewards of Emirates airlines who sponsored The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai. These women sprinkled stardust throughout the festival.
My career has been supported by women. My life has been upheld by women. Jude Kelly, Linda Lines, Hannah Pool, Yemarshet Sissay, Suzette Newman – yes you Suzette – Adele Jones, Gill Lloyd, Wuleta Giday, Lisa Dwan, Diane Sutton.They have given me friendship when I didn’t know what friendship was, guidance when I didn’t know I needed it and love when I was not equipped to accept it. In other words they have given me what I needed when I most needed it.
They have exercised the power and wisdom to walk away from me and the power and wisdom to walk towards me. Sometimes at the same time. Last week in Addis Ababa I met Helen Pankhurst who is the grand daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst. Her grandmother is Sylvia Pankhurst. The Pankhursts have an incredibly close relationship to Ethiopia having dedicated their lives to the country. Sylvia Pankhurst is buried in Ethiopia. Earlier this week Helen write to me.