Today is a complex logistical task - probably the trickiest working day so afar in post, at least in terms of where I have to be and when. Effectively, I have to be in three places at once. Today. I have to make sure the Highcross exhibition is ticking over, set up and front (for part of the day) our shared table at the second Choice Unlimited event in the Tigers stadium and help run the Interfaith Events Day at Brooksby Melton College.
Despite the early start and the complex arrangements, I couldn't resist staying up late last night, as Gold was showing that episode of I'm Alan Partridge where Alan pierces his foot on a spike climbing over the security fence into Choristers Country Club. It's quintessential Partridge: "The Colour of Alan".
I'm not harping on about how complex today is in a misguided attempt for your sympathy, faithful reader. I certainly wouldn't want you to get that impression. Far from it; not at all. I love these missions. I thrive on this sort of thing. Nothing excited me more when I was younger than dashing hither and yon to achieve some mad objective that others wouldn't touch with a bargepole or would tell me is impossible. I've worked hard to earn my reputation as the Can Do guy for these situations. So here's how the early part of this morning pans out:
- Stage 1: Leave home 0645, get to the Welcome Centre for 0730, pick up materials for our display in Choice Unlimited at Tigers stadium
- Stage 2: to the Tigers to set up our table-top display and banner before 0800
- Stage 3: from the Tigers back to the Welcome Centre for 0830 to grab the materials needed for Brooksby Melton College
- Stage 4: to Leicester Station to catch the 0918 for Melton - just one stop, only a quarter of an hour away. But the train sits there … and sits there ... for 40 minutes. After having kept to time so well so far, I have to say it's a bit frustrating.
I get to the college about 1015 and we're all set up ten minutes later. As far as my participation today is concerned, this event is “dual-badged” for Leicester Council of Faiths and Faith Awareness (the inter faith programme of Christians Aware). We have one of the Council of Faiths “generic” pop-up banners borrowed from the Highcross exhibition, as well as a range of the giveaway literature that's also available there. We have a variety of books published by Christians Aware: Food, Festivals and Faith; Meeting Buddhists; Meeting Hindus; Meeting Jews; Meeting Muslims; Meeting Sikhs; Religion – Life Itself. I've also brought a laptop, on which I run a slideshow of 50 or so images associated with various faith communities in Leicester. The Council of Faiths has the more visible presence today, but it's with Faith Awareness that I hope to be able to establish long-term relations with college and community.
I've asked Rita Green, the sole Bahá'í in Melton, to help me here today. Rita has made efforts in recent years to get inter faith work off the ground in Melton, with events, exhibitions, presentations and talks in venues such as the public library. I've known Rita for nigh on 30 years and hope that she'll be able to help me establish an active inter faith group here in the near future. Rita is on the left in the photo above.
The college has put on a nice display here today with lots to see and do, signposted and trailed throughout the campus.
Nicola's colleague, Humera Aziz, has loaned some costumes and outfits from her personal wardrobe for students to try on. There's a well-stocked Fair Trade display. There are tables for the local Anglican churches and Melton Mowbray Baptist Church. Chris Corps, multicultural storyteller and interfaith minister, performs a number of tales and plays ethnic wind instruments. Nicola is offering henna tattoos and I get my first ever one! Can you tell what it is yet? No, nor can I ...
The event climaxes with a dance display in the college theatre, which gets strong support from students and staff alike.
Stuart Wright, Head of Learning, has the last word, describing how the college is obliged to provide students with an education not just for living now in Melton, but for the wider world and later life. Students have to be more aware of different cultures, ethnicities and faiths.
It's all over by 1415. A quarter of an hour later, I'm on the train back to Leicester, heading for Choice Unlimited at the Tigers.