Casual work

My work at The Guardian is called ‘casual’. Because I don’t go there every day, or regularly. I am in the ‘Night Uploaders’ team.

We quickly proof-read the articles, which are already being printed, in case some mistake has slipped the attention of the sub-editors that are specifically employed for such mistake-spotting among other things, and then add some basic html coding and some relevant, pre-determined links. It is done every single night, and every single article published on paper is uploaded to the website, but for these stable jobs The Guardian employs casuals who can not stay employed for longer than ten months in a row to avoid having to contract us as regular employees. So in ten months time, I will need to find income somewhere else, with the option to come back after four months or so.

Visitors meeting

George is my contact on this new NoBorders business. We meet in a bar in zone 2 for a coffee. I thought it weird to have a one to one conversation about volunteering over a coffee, but when I see George he is at a table talking to some five other people. We all introduce each other and then they resume the conversation, which seems to be at the stage of the actual travelling to the detention centre, somewhere in zone 6. (note below)

No Borders

On one of the email lists I am in, there is an email from No Borders. The work they seem to do now is the punctual service: visiting asylum seekers locked up in detention centres.

‘We need people to help / visit detainees, asylum seekers that are awaiting deportation’, the email says.

My mind goes to the gospel, to the bit where God rewards those who visited people who were ill or in jail.

This is punctual help to individual people. Mostly men. The women seem to be locked up in another detention centre, too far away from London for unemployed or low-waged volunteers to afford to go regularly. So they stick to the detention centres next to Heathrow, one tube ride away.

Visit detainees. That is not going to tear apart the borders, NOBorders. But it is (sold as) part of a wider strategy, against all borders. This is the ‘detainee support group’ part of NoBorders. Because it is not fair that people have (or not) the right to live here based on where they were born.

I write back to offer to volunteer.

The Guardian

Very first day at The Guardian. Some kind of induction day.

A tall guy who seems that will be my supervisor spends too long explaining how the articles are classified, tagged and formatted, ready for uploading. I am also supposed to read them and pick up mistakes that may have slipped through the several layers of sub-editing. These are articles that have already been sent to the printers; any correction will only come up on the online version.

London home

London room

I live in a shared house in London. I don’t know any one who doesn’t. Most of the people I know have moved in houses already inhabited with strangers. Then we make friends, or not. It seems easier to just find a room in the kind of house you like than getting together with friends, decide to look for the same kind of accommodation and then once found, distribute the very different bedrooms among the, in principle, similar people.

Talk on Palestine in Zaragoza

A lot of emails and phonecalls are needed to arrange a talk in another city. My friend J.M. had a visit to pay in Zaragoza and we were arranging to go there together. But now there is so much snow he has cancelled the visit. I can not, or I do not want to cancel this. I may get stranded somewhere in the middle of the railway. But I have to try to get there on the day we have scheduled because if I do not, then the chance will be gone. Maybe another year. But I can always try another year, I feel the need to make this one happen this time.

Andrew

This text came on Christmas Day, from David, who has been writing his experiences to his friends and family and, lately, to me, too. This page talks about himself and his own deportation:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/01/19/iof-evacuated-human-rights-workers-instead-of-illegal-settlers /

Telling it

Back in Europe, it’s Christmas time, so it is not quite going back to normal. Not just yet. In one hand, it is Christmas time. Lights in the streets, jolly and empty music. So, even if Palestine had not happened, this would still be that time of year where routine breaks to make it all family and all special. In the other hand, I am eager to tell as many people as possible about what I have seen and heard in Palestine. Part of my family listens, and then there are comments like “So out of the whole world to go on holiday, you had to go to a war zone?” “yeah they want independence, just like here” “well we probably don’t see as many tanks in the streets as they see there”. Besides, they all have their own stories to tell.

Epilogue or worthless rant

When I came, I did not know too well what I had come here for. But that is not the most important thing. I have been with people who know only too well what they need us for. And they have put us, they have put me, in the places where I was needed, telling me, more or less, on occasions exactly, what needed to be done.

Priests and privileges

I need to spend a few more days more in Jerusalem. Which doesn’t qualify as time in Palestine, because as I mentioned in this previous post, Jerusalem is no longer considered Palestine by any one who lives there, despite the ‘efforts’ by the ‘international community’ in making it a shared city between two countries … of which only one exists.