December 2009

Snow has been falling, Patricia and I both have colds/flu and the big climate conference is teetering on the brink of collapse as I write. We attended some of the side events and demos (photo of Desmond Tutu and Yvo de Boer on stage in the Rådhusplads) and it’s been quite a carnival atmosphere, but overlain with huge concern over the outcome. I gave a talk at one of the COP15 fisheries meetings, my fourth in two weeks, including one in Washington, which I insisted on doing by video link instead of flying over and back. The talk and discussion was at midnight Copenhagen time and it felt great to roll into bed at home at 2am instead of heading for Washington airport.

As you can see from the slideshows, we’ve had some great holidays in Scotland, Bornholm and Northumberland and had a lot of fun with the grandchildren. Number four is on the way and thanks to the wonders of ultrasound I have seen her yawning, stretching and even opening her eyes! We have booked a big summer house in Bornholm next July.

Patricia’s father died suddenly and peacefully in July and is much missed by us and his friends. His students even carried on the tradition of celebrating his birthday at a Chinese restaurant in his memory.

Now I add my bit. The Climate conference is over and I am not sure whether to be desperately gloomy that it ended so poorly or to be happy that they at least did not make a bad agreement that would not be effective. For me the highlight of the whole two weeks was hearing Desmond Tutu speaking in the town hall square. The NGO forum that ran along side the politician’s event was also very interesting and gave me plenty of fuel for chapters and activities for my contributions to the update of ‘Compass’, the human rights manual that I was first involved in producing 8 years ago. I just have to fight on and it’s good to know that we are many.

My other work with the asylum seekers’ magazine ( is as always challenging and exhillerating. This year I have also been volunteering as a “legal guardian” for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. I’m on my third boy. The first decided to go home, the second got asylum and the third has been rejected and faces an unknown future. My tasks are to support them through the asylum process and to attend all meetings with the police, Immigration Service and lawyers and also to arrange some social activities. It’s a great privilege to get to know those boys and I can only admire them for how they have stood up through what they have been through in their home countries and during making their escape. Being involved is not the same as reading the stories in a newspaper.

I recall that last year I wrote something about thinking about retiring so as to have more time to see my father and the grandchildren. It was a huge blow when my father died. It was not unexpected, in fact his heart might have given out anytime during the last 10 years. But it was sudden and I got the news just as the plane landed in Edinburgh on my way to a holiday with all the family. Ruth was wonderful and took care of all the formalities. We then did manage to have a little holiday in Stroanfreggan before I went to London for the next 3 weeks to clear up my father’s house. He had so many items that I wanted to retrieve like the family history archive material and art works and letters from my grandfather; so many precious items buried amongst the literally tons of clutter. I would never have mangaged it without Lisa’s help and the help of several of Charles’ very good friends. By September I was utterly exhausted and Cathie finished the job off, including all the paper work. The experience has changed my life; I really feel the burdon of posessions. I have little desire to own more things and think twice before buying anything. What is important is to seize the moment and thus I think again about retirement and being a good granny who gives real hugs and doesn’t just wave and blow kisses on Skype.

Today I am packing to go to Scotland and wish you all the best for 2010.

Love Pat-C

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