Friday, 20 June 2008

Refugee Week

I was at an event organised as part of Refugee Week today, in the People's Palace in Glasgow. The event included music, poems and spoken word performances from people now living in Glasgow, but who have come from all over the world.

I must say, if you'd said to me a year ago I would be attending an event with 'spoken word performances' I would have looked at you in disbelief. I am far from immersed in the cultural and artistic scene. I suppose that's because I'm always so busy with work and with SNP activities. There just aren't enough hours in the day. The mere suggestion that I would take an evening off to go watch a play, attend a poetry reading or to listen to live music seems so far-fetched. If I get an evening off, I usually head straight for the backlog of housework!

And that's a real pity, because I really enjoyed my experience today and met so many interesting people. My favourite performance though was that of two brothers from Zimbabwe, who played the most bizarre instruments I have ever seen. But the music and the singing was absolutely stunning, and I felt very privileged to be listening. As part of the event, people who have found themselves living in Scotland as refugees recounted their personal stories and they were very moving. So to listen to the music, after I heard about the experience of the musicians, became even more poignant.

From now on, I'm going to make a real effort to go to events that I wouldn't ordinarily consider for me - and I'm sure my life will be the better for it.

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