It’s been an interesting few weeks managing a narrative capture in the UK and Pakistan, interpreting the material and writing the report. I freely admit that I have been moved to tears reading some of the material from refugee camps. Reading material from 14 year olds talking about the suffering of others, when they face displacement and immanent violence, is a sobering experience. The pilot is now complete, and I can catch up on multiple emails and other work which has been ignored under the pressure of a sustained period of 18 hour days. I should also get back into the habit of updating this blog daily. This week I have been in Wales working on the definition phase of a series of possible pilot projects looking at the impact of Government on the people. More of those in the future if they move forward. For the moment I was reflecting on displacement, a sense of Hiraeth that comes on with increasing strength these days. Hiraeth is another of those welsh words, like Cynefin that have no literal translation, the nearest is a sense of longing, a desire to return to the place of your multiple belongings.
Now being in Cardiff, or Wales generally always has this effect on me, there are so many memories. The walk from Cardiff General to Sophia Gardens passes the Millennium Stadium, passing along the River Taff. I still remember my first sight of a Kingfisher as a young boy exploring the river near Llandaf Cathedral. Next to the Millennium Stadium is the Arms Park, which saw its last game of Magners League Rugby only a couple of months ago. When I was a teenager that was the Cricket Ground and I was always there for the annual summer tour to see the West Indies or Australia. Somewhere in the loft I still have the team photographs with autographs carefully hunted down on the boundary over a three day game for some of the all time greats such as Wes Hall. I don’t think I have ever walked that path (and I have done it many times) without remembering those occasions; sitting with a score book for three days with my parents watching the game unfold. Don’t let anyone tell you that cricket is boring. I saw my first game of Rugby at the old Arms Park next door. Cardiff v Liverpool as I remember it.
The seminar itself brought back other memories. In one group we were talking about potential narrative capture in hospitals in North Wales. I realised then that I had personal knowledge of all three.
Memories are strange things, and the smallest thing can trigger multiple memories and reflections. Places situation those memories, they create a sense of continuity across generations. Some of those memories are good, others in that strange place where tragedy meets celebration.
The picture is by Katy Webster, entitled Hiraeth II, acrylic on slate shown at the Earth Gallery in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceirog, a wonderful place in its own right, tucked away at the foot of the Berwyn Mountains looking towards Oswestry in the East. Strongly recommended for a visit.
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