Friday, 29 January 2010

Cork and the Wider World

I knew a pair of Irish doctors, Fiona and Brian, who went off to work in either Peru or Zimbabwe. They were from Cork, where they corresponded with a journal called Cork and the Wider World. How marvellous to say your home town and the whole world in one breath. I gained a respect for Cork and for Ireland at that moment, and have never lost it.

Marple Bridge is also in communion with the cosmos. I don’t mean through the cultural outings to Disneyland arranged by our specialist language college. I’m thinking more of the Stockport Metros: “Friendship through Lacrosse”. Families from Mellor, Poynton and other local lacrosse clubs receive a touring youth team from Anne Aroundel Lacrosse in Maryland every two years, and take a touring team over there, in between. That’s better.

Mandall 3 tells me that Jimiyke is in town. M3, our youngest, has more antennae than Fylingdales. He can pick up a signal from friend or foe, foul-mouthed celeb or pregnant head of physics, before you can say semi-conductor. I caught him checking out a furniture van on Marina Drive, yesterday. Then he got lost in Big Brother briefings when was supposed to be on M3 says he’s no good at maths. So why does he have such an infernal memory for number-plates?

Jimiyke lives in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He takes his name from an American celeb called J-Mike or similar. Jimiyke was a boy-soldier, but found his way back to school, EducAid, where he became Head Boy last year. Then he suddenly became ill with dreadful maladies that turned out to be hepatitis. Thanks to the school and their friends, he travelled to England for treatment, where he also proved a great ambassador for EducAid at schools which support it.

Jimiyke, EducAid and Sierra Leone have been on M3’s radar for a while. Indeed, it was thanks to M3 that, last June, Jimiyke’s English headmistress Miriam and her Sierra Leonean husband Alhassan came to the Mellor village fete.

Alhassan and Miriam hit the Mellor Church Fete in African garb
We had a May Pole, and country dancing in the evening. Alhassan clearly thought our ethnic dancing was nuts, but joined in anyway.

Alhassan died soon after he went home. Just like that. It happens a lot in Freetown when there isn’t time or money to get you out of the country to a decent hospital. EducAid lost 4 students last year.

Son of a junior wife, Alhassan never got a formal education, but met and married a British teacher, Miriam. Together they set up EducAid, now a network of schools in Sierra Leone. Then, last July, driving through Freetown, Alhassan, to all appearances a handsome and fit young man, had a headache. He thought it might be malaria, which is common, so after dropping Miriam off for a meeting, he headed off for some pills. He passed out at the wheel and hit a telephone pole, which was home to a swarm of bees. (Telephone poles in Freetown don’t carry much in the way of phone conversations). Too ill to move, he let the bees sting him over a thousand times. He died some days later. Nobody knows whether the bees, malaria, or some other condition killed him. Nobody can tell you these things in Sierra Leone, any more than they probably can in Haiti. He just died. Of course.

Jimiyke is staying in Stockport with a teacher whose class he’s been skyping. He’s also completed his medical tests, and is fine. I expect M3 will find out more soon. Or perhaps we'll hear on Miriam's blog from Freetown. It's always a good read.

Meanwhile, I must pay the deposit for M2’s Lacrosse tour. Rather Maryland than Disneyland.

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