heard on the BBC World Service that remembrance day this year
was quite wet. The weather here is still boring but I'm happy
with that. Some Egyptians are starting to wear jumpers and coats
but I don't think that I've fully acclimatised, I still go out
wearing only a shirt and trousers.
been busy for much of this week with work for my company in London
and so I have had little time to do other things. Alison went
on a three-day ladies' conference from Thursday to Saturday- many
of those attending were in the same line of work. It was a chance
for her to relax and regenerate her energy whist she left Hannah
with me! Her bump is now getting quite prominent and it is getting
easy to see that she is pregnant.
I had Hannah I (and so I couldn't work with my programming) I
decided to travel around with her to do other things which I don't
normally have time to do. I visited a convent in which I have
been helping them with some computer problems and Hannah as immediately
seized and passed around! The nuns showered her with presents
too, many of them were sweets which I was happy to share with
her once we departed. Hannah and I had a really good time together
and I'm constantly surprised by how much she is learning by herself.
She knows how to say the alphabet (not bad for a 2 and a half
year-old, eh?) and is well on the way to completing a 50-piece
forgot to mention an embarrassing moment last week at the S School
teachers conference where I was speaking. Before I was due to
speak there were some announcements in Arabic. I always switch
off when the announcements are given (even in English) so I didn't
pay much attention to what was said. When the announcements were
finished I noticed that all 150 delegates were looking at me,
expecting something. Someone walked over and said that it had
been announced that I was going to sing in Arabic for the others
handed me a microphone. I was a bit dazed, but somehow the person
giving the announcements heard that I know an Arabic song so he
thought that it would be nice if I could share it with everyone.
heard many times before that this is typical for the culture.
People can even be called upon to give "talks" with no notice.
I think that they also don't like to ask beforehand in case I
said "no" so it would be better just to announce it first! I immediately
knew that I had three problems, first of all I didn't have my
guitar; secondly the pianist couldn't play; thirdly the piano
was out of tune. Even as I was going to the stage the pianist
stated to play the introduction to the song and I was trying to
pitch it to the key that he was playing in but I found it very
difficult. I had to turn and ask him to stop playing so that I
could start! When I did start he played anyway but at least I
pitched it at the right key for me even if it wasn't the same
one that he was playing in. I had a round of applause afterwards
but somehow I think that it was more to do with courtesy than
with appreciation. The video which I sent with Wallace and Ceridwen
has the same song on- in fact it is the ONLY song which I know
in Arabic. (Let me know when you get this by the way)
I performed at another S School. I was invited by an American
teacher who works at another school here which Alison helps at
(this is also on the video). The American teacher is helping to
train these teachers which mainly consist of older teenagers from
the youth club. It is easy to see that this kind of work has a
lot of potential and I was happy to help out.
recently been bombarded with invitations to other venues, many
of them I've had to turn down due to constraints on time. The
Egytpians often use very under-handed tactics to get you to agree
go to a meeting- I have heard that this is also very cultural.
For one particular meeting I was told that it had already been
announced to the children that I was coming on a particular date,
and if I refused then it would look like the lady was lying! Unfortunately
it was during the ladies' conference that Alison was attending
and so I had to say no anyway. I was MADE to feel bad about refusing
to go. A lot of the time the Egyptians will try to use guilt to
force you into their way of thinking, the following comments are
not out of the ordinary:
don't you want to come, don't you like us?"
can't you just cancel the other meeting and come to us instead?"
much are they giving you? We will pay you more . . ."
you are wrapped up warm just think of us here! Soon we will have
to start sleeping under the covers- it definitely doesn't feel
like bon-fire night weather here!
from me next week!
Alison and Hannah
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