Thursday, 26 May 2011

Things that move

from Iceland Review
I believe I slept on a volcano last night. Well, that's what I like to think. Jane had hung the washing out in the day and it ended up with shiny black specks on it, especially the fleece I rest my heels on to prevent them chafing in bed. Of course, I'm no expert, but I like to think they were from the Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland rather than Didcot power station down the road. Apparently Grimsvötn produced more ash on its first day than the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull let out in 40 days last year. A vivid eye-witness account described it as a black wall of ash. Possibly I've been to sleep on some of it!

The Radio 4 programme The Choice, in which Michael Buerk interviews individuals who have had to make momentous personal decisions, has returned this week. They are often gritty stories. On Tuesday he was talking to 'Mikey Walsh' who's from a Romany family which has a tradition of bare-knuckle fighting. When he was born, his father hung a gold chain with an ornament of boxing gloves round his neck. As he grew up, despite his family's best efforts, it was clear that he was just not the fighting type. He was soft. Eventually in his teens he realised he was gay and made the decision to run away from his family, cutting himself off from the whole Gypsy world. The cost to him and the hurt to his father were immense. Eventually he moved into acting and wrote his story in Gypsy Boy. That stirred up a buzz of anger among his some of his former community, whom his father personally set about pacifying, by admitting that the details were true. What struck me was the end of the programme, when Mikey told how one day he rang his mother, who passed the mobile straight to his father. He said, "I've got something to tell you: you're more of a fighting man than any of 'em, and I'm proud of you." I found Mikey's honesty and his father's humility very impressive, and the at least partial reconciliation very moving.

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