Today began with mistaken public transport and an old lady, holding up the traffic in her wheel chair, waving her arms at the impatient banked up cars.
I had intended to go straight to the agency and start studying the national curriculum, collecting a bank of appropriate teaching ideas, quick activities to fill the gaps and a better preparation for facing an unknown bunch of kids. Instead I found myself heading off to the city on the wrong bus! No harm done, there was some great shopping at a place called Primark – much cheaper than the city shops, good quality, and so popular that by the time I got to the register I was at the end of a line more than 30 people long.
I then headed for the bus, carrying these huge heavy paper carriers with my new warm coat and foot warmers when I heard horns blaring and people staring. In the middle of the busy main road was an old grey haired lady, struggling to get her wheel chair across the road and waving her arms angrily at the impatient queues of cars itching to accelerate while the lights were green. Amazed I waded through the immobile bank of mostly men watching her, and with bags bouncing off the wheel chair I quickly wheeled her off the road – while she roared to the crowd “what kind of men are you??!” amongst other less controlled comments. Wishing her well I then caught another wrong bus and had to walk back to where I had started!
Pets, as in Australia are a very big part of a Londoner’s life. The free London Paper – which unfortunately printed its last issue today due to the financial crisis – had been running a favourite pet picture in each of its issues. Amazed at the response it had from readers it ran a centrefold page of guinea pigs in knitted hats, cute cats, pigs and various other human companions. They were all beaten by the amazing pup which trotted across my path – a type of black and white miniature boxer breed but with huge stand-up butterfly ears! Perhaps even more unusual was the lead story today - of a 12 year old boy who turned up to school as a girl, prompting the head of the school to make an announcement in Assembly explaining the child's choice of future gender. Surely an adolescent's nightmare!!
Tonight was the last night of Ramadan and I was almost moved to tears thinking about how it would be probably another year before I stood comfortably in a mosque praying sunnah and hearing the Quran roll melodiously around me. I stopped to pick up some fattoush from one of the many take away joints still open on my road home (not to mention the 5 or so 24 hour small grocery and fruit stalls in less than a kilometre). As usual the staff were friendly and gave salaams. I noticed that they were watching on a large screen an Arabic station where Omar Sharif – the ever so famous actor, was being interviewed. He was sitting on a chair in a classic Bedouin tent, with the desert wind coolly lifting the tasselled sides. I checked with the shop owner, who happily confirmed that Omar had left his many Hollywood years behind and returned to Cairo, the land of his birth. “Is he Muslim then?” I asked amazed, thinking of how much my mother and grandmother had adored him, and how horrified my grandmother would have been to think that he was Muslim.