Friday, April 18, 2008

The week

The House has been in recess this week, giving me the chance to clear some of the piles of paper off the office floor.

A flurry of activity over GA, an asylum seeker who was separated from her infant in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), contrary to a new instruction that was issued after vehement protests about previous cases. The UK Borders Agency say the instruction only applied to their staff implementing decisions to remove or detain a person, and that if a mother and infant already in an IRC are separated, the decision doesn't have to be approved by an official of deputy director level or above.

Tuesday I had a visit from the Eritrean Ambassador, H E Tesfemicael Gerahtu O, and we had a long discussion on the failure of the international community to take a stronger line on implementation of the determination of the Eritrea-Ethiopia boundary commission, to which both states had committed themselves as part of the peace settlement. When the commission's decision didn't suit the Ethiopians they prevaricated, and their troops are still occupying Eritrean territory.

The Ambassador also talked about the progress Eritrea was making in basic services such as health and education. But he wasn't able to account for the large number of people leaving Eritrea and seeking asylum in Europe, Britain in particular.

Friday I had a checkup at King's haematology. There's no sign of a recurrence of the lung tumour removed on April 21, 2006. Alex Snelgrove, Tordie's granddaughter came to lunch during a fleeting visit to London, en route from Zambia where she has an aid project, back to Toronto.

Friday evening we had a party at Flodden Road to celebrate the victory of Steve Bradley in the recent council by-election here in Vassall ward. He trounced Labour, and on this form we should take the other two seats in the ward in a year's time. The details:

Steve Bradley (LD) 1206
Labour 856
Conservative 206
Green 109
English Democrat 8
Independent 7

Steve will be a first-class Councillor, and this result bodes well for Caroline Pidgeon's campaign for the Greater London Assembly.

Saturday morning I had a visit from my agreeable Jehovah's Witness neighbour, who I hadn't had a chance to tald to for some time. His starting point was to ask me what I knew about Armageddon, to which I replied that it was a place in Israel, Megiddo, and the site of the hypothetical battle that precedes the end of the universe in Revelations. Ah, he said, but Psalm CIV v 5 tells us that the universe is eternal, referring to the Lord

'Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be destroyed for ever'.

But how do you reconcile that, I countered, hastily reaching for Cruden's Concordance, with the saying of Jesus himself in St Luke 21:33:

'Heaven and earth shall pass away..'

At that he switched back to Noah, saying that Jehovah would save the virtuous in the final cataclysm, as he had rescued Noah and his family from the flood. We got diverted onto the plausibility of the waters rising to cover the whole of the earth, including Everest, the summit of which is more than 8,800 meters above sea level, requiring an unimaginably vast quantity of water. My JW friend lamely suggested that the amount of water in the atmosphere might be sufficient, but one of his two young helpers, a schoolboy who is attending Dulwich College, had a more sophisticated explanation. The Himalayas, he said correctly, were raised by the collision between the earth's tectonic plates, and at the time of Noah they hadn't reached anything like their present altitude. It would have been good at that point t explore JW beliefs about the span of geological time over which those events took place, but our colloquy was interrupted by the return of Lindsay with a South Korean TV crew who had been filming with her in Myatt's Fields park.

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