It was a good party thanks to the lovely S and her feats with a saucepan and yes, at midnight in kilt and accompanied by a surfer dude on an Irish drum, my buddy the piper led a surreal, random crowd of drunken dancers into the soggy night. We collected about 30 people from various houses in the estate – mostly holding fags and tins of larger ( and that was just the children) and wound our way leaping and bobbing like deranged elves up and down the street. It was quite a sight, even for me!
This morning I was still feeling toxic but have launched a two week plan involving vast quantites of green tea, seaweed soup and fizzy water which should soothe my screaming liver and enable me to concentrate on this frustrating search for a way to earn some dosh.
I need to start planning for the trip to Zambia as I want to do a radio article on HIV and Blindness with my Dad. It needs to be good enough to sell in to ‘In Touch’ on Radio 4 but it will need quite a bit of research. My dad is the volunteer medical supervisor of Mother of Mercy Hospice on the outskirts of Lusaka, which is where we’ll start. Then I will try and track down a couple of the blind communites that have been set up recently. A few years ago, when filming on the streets of Lusaka one night on a completely different production, my director and I found ourselves hanging out with about 50 blind and visually impaired street people. Their major method of earning was begging and they had over the years formed extended ‘families’ of guides (usually children under 12 who were neither old enough for marriage or prostitution and could not afford school) and visually impaired adults. It was a fascinaitng and very cheerful couple of hours spent chatting around a charcoal fire and nibbling on burnt maize kernals. They seemed to be resiliant and knowing and found my white cane (back then just a signal cane) rather superflous and odd. How could I be going blind? I was a ‘muzungu’ (white). It made no sense at all.
About three months after that chance meeting there was an International HIV/AIDS confernce. Zambia’s method of cleaning the city involved the police loading all the street communities, street kids and disabled, into the back of various lorries and running them out of town. I have no idea where those people ended up and its time I found out.