My friend the flag

Once again the flag is an ambassador, an ice-breaker, an introduction, a point of contact.
“Do you know this flag?”
Older man with closed, suspicious expression::”it’s something to do with Palestine”
“I’m raising awareness of some Palestinian projects”
“Rockets for Gaza?”
“No, a healing centre for children in Gaza”.
Smiling: “Oh, OK, well good luck”

Passing runner: “is that the flag of Belarus?
“No it’s the Palestinian flag. Do you know why I’m carrying it?”
“No, go on then, why?”

You’re here again! I remember the flag! Do you remember me?” It’s Maureen, soon to be 88 who featured in last year’s diary and we are delighted to see each other again. Maureen is partially sighted but recognised the flag and as we stood chatting at the top of the park, two women gave me the thumbs up as they passed and soon we were all chatting about living on one’s own and the importance of parks for connecting with others. Maureen is looking forward to the spBR weekend and it feels like the event is connecting her into new generations of local residents as well as the chance to make a difference. She plans to watch the video with her son.

“I like your dinosaur”
Small child clutching her toy “It’s green!”
Do you like my flag?”
“I like your flag too” says one of a passing group of adults, and so another conversation ensues and another leaflet handed out.

“Why are you doing this?” asks Ali from Iran walking past with his small child. It’s hard for him to get his head round the concept of the level of support locally, outside the muslim and Arab communities, and our conversation is rewarding for both of us.

“Free Palestine”, calls a young lad from the basketball court and I wave my flag in response. Later another young lad, also of South Asian heritage, dawdles in front of me on his bike before he gets up the courage to stop and ask me about the flag and if he can have it. He goes away with an explanation and a leaflet and seems pleased. A group of young girls, sat on the grass, who recognise the flag, shyly put up their thumbs and also get a chat and a leaflet and wish me luck. A father tells his small son about the flag after overhearing me talking to others. And so the conversations with all ages, continue round the park.

It’s in the News
I wondered whether engaging with people would be affected by the recent and ongoing news, and a lot of those who recognised the flag. assumed i was a lone protester and so there was a certain amount of chasing after the raised thumbs to explain my actual mission, which was connected but…Yes but, no but…. Others averted their eyes, but if they smiled I engaged with ‘Do you know why I’m carrying this flag?’ and taking it from there.

I met Will, pushing his bike up the hill in his Free Palestine T-shirt. and then his friend Jim, next day.

Both highly aware, involved in protesting the Police Bill and defending climate disaster through XR. A young Arab woman mentioned a vigil for Palestine next day, which alerted me to attend. It was good to exchange information and connect dots.

[My friend the flag , part 2]