The I Speak Music community orchestra is a wonder. It must be a rare thing - an orchestra which thrives not only on its very mix of nationalities, ages and cultures, but also on the different abilities of its players? It is an entirely levelling experience - a shared endeavour where there is simply no space for labels declaring political status or ethnocultural background, nor for restraints created by language difference. I sat with my santoor (which I don’t really play) and my clarinet (which I do) between H on the oud and M on the Eritrean kraa, and was utterly struck by the uniqueness of the moment: when we played not one of us was out of place, for any reason.
We have launched the Big Leaf Football team. Or indeed teams, because last Saturday we had two of them, and both got through to the semis, which for a first outing is brilliant. We are hugely grateful to Guildford Philanthropy and Barrie Philips Hair and Beauty for providing us with the shirts, and to our brilliant volunteers Akira, Fab and Bini for marshalling the troops, 'reminding' everyone of the tournament rules, and allowing the rest of us to pass the day chatting on the sidelines and accepting dates (the fruit kind) off the other teams.
We’re now working hard to establish regular coaching and play sessions, setting up matches with local clubs and looking at ways of linking it in with further training. Details will be to follow but do get in touch if you want to know more.
We’re big believers in the power of positive community events like this and so our genuine thanks to Woking People of Faith for the excellent organisation, all the other teams for their generosity of spirit (and of snacks) and to Shah Jahan and Al Asr for providing the competition. Next year, gentlemen, next year…
Image © Big Leaf Foundation
We just managed to bring everyone together for Iftar before Eid began. Our wonderful and brilliant volunteer chef arrived with vats of lentil soup, salad, lamb and okra stew plus an array of desserts. How she does it every time we don’t know. And the kitchen was full of old and new faces, of different nationalities, different religions, some fasting, some not. V and I tried not to pick at anything before the break of fast and were not hugely successful; Susan’s food is seriously good and walking past a bowl of her hummus without dipping a spoon into it is much harder than it seems.
It was a happy, relaxed and jovial evening and the time spent together, whether cooking, eating or clearing up, was just great. Many thanks to Louise, for her brilliant supervision of unwieldy attitudes towards kitchen knives (“Put it DOWN, H and use the TIN OPENER like I SAID!”) to Alison for all the help in and out of the kitchen, to Jonathan for rounding up the eaters and leading prayers, and especially to Susan for the food.
As Tolkien said, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” We certainly valued it last night.