Saturday, 10 October 2009

BREAKING NEWS: The Nomad Moves House

As Nomads do, I have moved. Not far. But I felt one blog is better than two for Nomadic and that it was best to speak of wisdom and journeys on the same page. So for future thoughts and travels visit me on

Thank you for your patience with my restless soul.

Nomadic x

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Britain IS NOT broken!

I took offence today and ranted alone in my car for a good half hour. Here is me – stuck in Stevenage traffic, driving a squeaky Fiat Brava and flicking cigarette ash out the window. Here is an extract:

Despite media reports to the contrary, I am here to announce that Britain is NOT broken. Even when race riots swept through our nation in the 80s, or when the IRA bombed our shopping malls, when miners lost their livelihoods, we were not broken. When Germany dropped bombs on us wrecking our homes, when black plague was spread by rats, when a tidal wave killed thousands in the west country –we were not broken. In fact our resilience was beautiful. The British, like other nationalities of human are survivors - resourceful, adaptable. Britain is a diverse and fertile land – full of smart, caring, good people. It is NOT full of Islamic extremists. It is NOT full of neo-nazi fanatics. It’s NOT filled with hoodies or yobbos with ASBOs forcing suicides upon the vulnerable . Nor is it filled with crack heads with knives, nor people without money being denied medicine, nor benefit spongers, nor hit and run killers.

Britain is filled with people like you and me, who are doctors, nurses, office workers, farm labourers, scientists, social workers, refuse collectors, retailers and company directors. People who care for their families, who give to their community, people who are tolerant and compassionate. People who WANT to get along with neighbours, send their kids to school and give a little to the less fortunate. Look around you. British people are among the world’s BIGGEST donators to charity. Be proud of it. And yes even politicians are among us. Believe it or not many politicians are driven with a desire to SERVE their people, not fiddle expenses. A necessity to find adequate representatives of our people does not equate to us being broken. This island nation comes from an extraordinary wealth of ethnic and spiritual background, of culture and belief. Don’t let anyone tell you this incredible nation is broken. Let’s shine a big bright light on all that is good about Britain – if only in the name of balanced perception.
And while we are at it – how do Somali’s feel about being considered “failed”. Or Afghans for that matter.

And how does Iraq feel about being “stabilised”. Would you like to be considered unstable?

And if you are from Africa, do you like the Brits today feel “broken”. I think not. So take offence to those who tell you that you are. And show that you are not.

The human race is better connected than ever before in history. We can tweet around the world, share thoughts with complete strangers, connect to form lobby groups, and vitally we can put pressure on main stream media – because REAL people don’t live in a fabricated world. Real people can now share with you a million versions of the truth – and you can bet that they are not overwhelmingly negative. But main stream media is without doubt negative, and we MUST reject this. If I were to raise my children by telling them every day that they were broken or failed, they might begin to believe it. It’s just not healthy.

At the risk of sounding like an old hippy - Let’s not focus entirely on the minority who bomb us, but cherish the majority who love us and save us.

Nuff said. Rant over.
(picture above was taken in July when thousands of people in my hood "raced for life")

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Contemplating Loss at Ramadan

Last year, inspired by conversations on BC discussion boards I wrote a post about Ramadan and what it means to me. I am a (slightly confused) non-Muslim who has lived in Muslim countries, so perhaps have a different take on the holy month from some people. Ramadan is, for me, primarily a time for contemplation and reflection. This led me last year to write about being apart from loved ones and to announce the establishment of a – a peace orientated organisation which I continue to run a year on.

Over the past year has worked in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We have worked on issues in Nepal, DR Congo, and Palestine and we are set to begin work in Uganda, Kenya and Bangladesh in coming months. Increasingly we are working in British communities and with British organizations - perhaps a good time to reflect on the reality that violent conflict is something that is capable of rearing its ugly head in every community, in every country, around the world – and not something, as some newspapers would have you believe, synonymous with Islam.

A few weeks ago in Baghdad, I posted a chirpy daily blog (which a flabbergasting 2,000 people tuned in). The aim of my travel blog was to present a different face of Iraq and Iraqi people and I even managed to draw some positivity from the truck bomb attack which came pretty close. However, I wasn’t in Iraq to blog and I perhaps skimmed over my mission there. I was in Baghdad to explore media campaigns that would address human rights issues – and as my time in Iraq ended as Ramadan began, I hope some seeds were sown that this month will be reflected upon.

Working with a group of people who had suffered torture, loss, and displacement first hand meant that human rights concerns were very real – and in Iraq stretch far beyond Camp Ashraf and Gay Rights (agendas being pushed by those outside of Iraq). Just one example - I was told horrific stories of sites in Iraq that are home to mass graves – where thousands of Iraqis, Kurds, and even Iranians lay dead, unidentified and not at rest. Some buried alive. A civil-holocaust.

Although not a huge issue for the Government of Iraq, who want to focus on those that are alive, I learnt that every day people arrive at the Ministry of Human Rights with pain in their hearts seeking information about missing loved ones. Perhaps because I have pain in my own heart this week, having lost a very dear friend to a very different kind of conflict (a very real battle with cancer), I am moved to reach out to these poor souls - stuck in limbo and unable to heal because of lack of governmental will and properly trained DNA experts. It is common sense to me that when both the alive and dead are properly at rest a community is better able to recover itself.

So this Ramadan (said again in my usual BBC Radio 4 "thought for the day" voice), I urge you to contemplate and reflect on those who have lost a loved one. Understand their grief, allow their frustration and angst and help them to heal.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Keep your Hair on!

Reading about the hideous murder of Marwa Al-Sherbini in Germany this week – stabbed INSIDE a court room by a man who was being prosecuted for calling her a slut and a terrorist for wearing a hijab. Clearly a complete dangerous nut. A tragic story. But it strikes me as frankly bizarre and surreal the amount of attention given to what a women puts on her head. When anyone is forced to wear something they don’t want to wear, whether it is an orange jump suit or a Jewish star on the sleeve – it is oppressive, of course. But let us not forget that many women CHOOSE to cover their hair. For various reasons. Roman Catholic Nuns (was Mother Theresa oppressed?), Christian brides, Plymouth Brethren/Amish women even Rastafarian women (when praying), butchers and bakers even school dinner ladies keep their hair covered. Let us not forget that Mary mother of Christ wore a hijab too.

A good friend of mine joked when she decided to start wearing a hijab that it made her feel more respected in her community, more of an equal to men, that it meant she didn’t have to waste time worrying about her hair, and in many ways it made her feel more sexy. So perhaps the hijab served to liberate her.

By all means, have a go at OPPRESSION – but NOT at clothing. The point is that women should be free to wear what they want to. Let's not miss that point.

PS - that's me, bottom right

Sunday, 31 May 2009


So we tweeted our marriage as promised (above) - thanks to so many of you for tuning in and for sending messages of congratulations!

We also got married for real too, which to be honest was a little better than the virtual ceremony!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Twitter Wedding Announced

I recently appealed for a tweeter to wed my man and me. We met on line and courted virtually, so a tweet wedding seems fitting (and fun). We are pleased to say we have found the perfect son-ova-preacher-man right under our noses.

You are cordially invited to the virtual wedding of
Service to be carried out by
At 10:00 am (British Summer Time)
On Thursday 28th May 2009

No need to wear a hat or bring a gift – just sign up to Twitter and follow the three of us to be part of the virtual ceremony.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tweeter needed for a new media marriage

We met on an internet dating site (bigup Guardian Soulmates). I had seen him there the year before and although he lived in France (and was therefore not even a 10% match apparently) I thought I would send him some smart arse quip about whether he was burying women under the patio. He liked it. I was attracted by his profile status. I really was. We exchanged messages, then emails. He found me on Facebook. I Googled him from afar. Then we moved onto instant messages. Then onto skype. Eventually I had the courage to actually plug in the web cam.

When we met it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I fell head over heels – a stranger to my eyes, but one I knew so well. We continued to date, making full use of budget airlines and building up some bad kharma environmentally. He told me about blogging (one of his previous girlfriends was a popular blogger) and I realised a new art form for my written word. Me a sloppy mild dyslexic, him a pedantic spelling maestro we began to put words together down the lines. We kept our love alive when we were apart with written notes and cards, but in the main with email and skype. We shared YouTube clips of our favourite comedians (Eddie Izzard featured very strongly) and music (Kloot and Elbow but definitely not Debbie Harry). Largely thanks to him, I now run an ethical communications business (which he aptly named –

After a year we took it offline. We have downloaded everything, taken a backup and we now live together in England (and sometimes in France). In the summer we plan to get married. We haven’t got much cash during these credit crunch times, so the wedding will be a modest affair – an exchange of vows with our parents and children and two very close friends, a walk by the river in Cambridge, a pub lunch. However, we will invite the whole virtual world to join us as we will be tweeting in celebration of our union. Whether you are a friend, family member or complete stranger you can tune into and on 16 June 2009 at 10:00 UK time and be part of it all - I promise NOT to be too cheesy. My side of the tweets will be tweeted on this page – but what we really need is someone to marry us.

So if you would like to conduct a short marriage ceremony (non religious) via twitter, please get in touch. If you are Eddie Izzard (or possibly Stephen Fry though it may be hard to get him to shut up) that would be fab, if not say why you want to wed us and drop me a line. Answers on a

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Obama and the Skinhead

On Tuesday 20th January 2009 I was rushing to a meeting in central London when I suddenly realised the time. I called my business partner and said we needed to hold the meeting somewhere near a television screen. I then dived into The Globe pub on the Marylebone Road and texted him. I found somewhere. And they served alcohol. Bonus. I ordered a white wine.

As the crowds in the pub clapped and cheered in a most un-British fashion at first Aretha Franklin taking stage then the great man himself, I noticed a solitary silent man avoiding the screen. A young skinhead stood at the bar looking more than unmoved - he was angry and was refusing to look at the screen.

The image of this boy will stay with me longer than the emotional hopes and outpourings of the day. We are many of us working towards a better world - but let's not get carried away. We need to listen wide to every man, woman and child. We need to tackle ignorance, isolation, marginalisation, pain and anguish - whatever it's root.