Wednesday, 20 October 2021


An extra refugee arrived on Folkestone yesterday, where she was met with bells and choirs and was welcomed into the country by the actor Jude Law. Quite why Jude Law was involved I do not know but there it is. Little Amal is a 3 metre high puppet, made by the people who made Warhorse. She represents all the refugee children who have mislaid their parents in their flight from war, famine, persecution and has travelled from Turkey across Europe to arrive finally in the UK. Little Amal has been looking for her mother. 

Only in one place has the welcome been less than warm in welcoming her. In Kalambaka, a village in northern Greece, which is home to ancient Greek Orthodox monasteries built into rocks, the village council decided not to receive a “Muslim doll from Syria”, as the mayor described Little Amal. 

It’s strange how intolerant the deeply religious can be. 

Here’s a link to a series of photos of her progress across Europe.

I’m feeling rather sorry that I won’t be able to see her when she arrives in Manchester on November 3rd. I would have liked to be there but we’ll be in Portugal, assuming I get my Covid vaccination certificate sorted out. 

Yesterday afternoon we followed the procedure indicated online to download a vaccination certificate onto the NHS app on our phones. All went like clockwork for Phil: certificate successfully downloaded. So did mine up to the point where it said “1 dose of 2”. So I scrolled down. No sign of dose 2. Hmm! Further investigation gave the advice to phone the GP. That’s a trial in itself: press 1 for this and 2 for that and 3 for the other.  So I pressed the relevant number to request to speak to a real person. Tinkly music ensued and a repeated mantra: “Thank you for your patience. Your call will be answered shortly.” Finally I spoke to a receptionist who checked the records and told me that, yes, my records showed 2 doses.

That was the good news; the bad news was that they have nothing to do with the NHS app - I should phone 119, which I duly did. And I played the  numbers game again and was thanked for my patience once again. This time the music was more strident! But eventually I got to speak to someone: a young man with good but heavily accented English who sounded for all the world as though he was working in a call centre, possibly in Calcutta. And the line was bad to boot! I kept having to ask him to repeat his requests for information. 

The upshot is that I should receive a paper certificate (Did I need large print? he wanted to know, perhaps prompted by my date of birth. And did I need it in other languages than English?) unless I receive a text to say that they have not been able to issue one. So far so good - no text message. I should also expect a phone call from some other bit of their service to sort out the app side of things. So far, no phone call! 

So here I am in a kind of certification limbo, hoping the young man understood everything that I said to him. Just a little travel nightmare! It’s a good job I am quite optimistic by nature!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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