A post for Omar, with love from 25 Derby Road, Nottingham
I doubt Omar Al Bashir has ever given much thought to the East Midlands.
It is a provincial after-thought for anyone who comes here from abroad, geographically remarkable perhaps only in its unremarkableness and with barely enough interest to trouble the page counter of a Lonely Planet.
It must then seem strange to a leader of country a thousand or so miles away that, in one of the United Kingdom’s areas of most stunning insignificance, there are (depending on your thoughts concerning Peterborough, no rude comments please) 10 shops dedicated to supporting him promote social justice for the young in Sudan.
Even stranger than that people would agree to staff that place for free and irrespective of what else they might want or need to do or have to spend their time with.
Or even stranger that I personally would want to do this despite having had a whole two pints of cider the night before, (I’m nearly twenty-five believe me that’s quite enough these days), being too poor to get a taxi home and having to sleep on my friend’s sofa.
Yet we do. And we are there. Most importantly this weekend so a gentleman could buy the slightly evil looking picture of a Pocahontas look-alike at that has been giving me nightmares for weeks.
It’s ok Omar, I wouldn’t worry. It’s probably just one of those western capitalist conspirancies that have been going around.
You know the sort, where we lull you into a false sense of security with our weapons of mass ‘disruption’, cunningly disguised as enthusiastic volunteers, high quality bric-a-bric and a wide selection of novels and non-fiction.
What might seem even more non-sensical about us though is that we open our door to anyone who wants to browse, purchase, donate, chat, get change for the bus, stare at the handsome male volunteers, stratch their nose, dance, write poetry (preferrably not on the walls) or anything else that compels them (within current UK legislation).
And (as long as they don’t misbehave) we don’t ever close our door on a single one of them. In fact we are actually enough stupid enough to assume people do not have an alterior motive when using the shop.
After all any of the people we served on Saturday morning could have been secretly a conspirator trying to ruin the shop, or Save the Children itself or even worse another Madonna fan plotting to make my taste in music yet more embarrasingly effeminate.
Brave as we are and undoubtedly stupid as I am, as volunteers were are not going to shun those who want to help the cause we believe in, even if you take in account the possibility of any of the above in the previous paragraph coming true (I already own ABBA and Girls Aloud albums, seriously my girlfriend will leave me if the ‘Queen of Pop’ is added to that list).
Relying on the the support and good-will of strangers without any obvious benefits to yourself like this of course makes no sense, especially not if you want to hold on to and make stronger what you already have.
But rationality is horrendously overrated anyway (believe me, just read an article on rational choice theory and you’ll soon realise the only truly rational action is buying a paper shredder) and not so good on the human factor either (no-one should have to study it let alone execute it!).
For Mr Bashir our shop would seem to be either an alien landscape or the most elaborate of conspiracies.
Yet whatever claims could be made about us, you can be sure our doors will remain open to all.