Time 4 Syria.

Noon Damascus time for an hour, that’s 10 am-11 am UK time, tomorrow, Christmas day. Anyone wishing to join me for any part of the hour sending positivity to the people and situation in Syria gratefully appreciated.

I’m going to take the dogs for a walk and send positive vibes to the group of people who are marching towards Aleppo from Berlin. They leave Berlin 10 am (their) local time, Monday 26th December. This is a group of people who have had enough of seeing the horrors on our screens and have decided to do something to show they want the situation to change for the good in Syria.

They needed to do something.  They decided to walk.  They chose Aleppo as their destination.

Either hundreds or thousands will start the march, some doing a few days, some more, some intent on the whole journey.

A wild idea?  A crazy idea?  An irresponsible idea?  A hopeless idea?…A good idea?  Who knows?

Sometimes you just have to act, take with you the best of your intentions, and follow your gut feelings.  This is what they have done and are doing.

A plan rushed together in just a month, things could definitely go wrong. But looking at their website, facebook and twitter feeds you can see they are not stupid.  They have put a great deal of thought into what they are doing.


All the best.  May you attract only goodness on your walk.


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Oh dear!

Apologies again, getting confused.  I made a few mistakes on original “Angels for Aleppo” post.  I hope I have corrected them all now. If you feel like rereading it, please do so by going to my website again. Sorry, and thank you!

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Angels for Aleppo.

I was wondering how to spread my “Hands Up for Syria” campaign. I was considering a trip to speakers corner in London with a placard this Sunday, but speakers corner, along with a throng of interested and peaceful tourists usually has its small and regular number of angry people simply looking for an argument. I didn’t really want to go, again!

I felt I had to do something though so when a friend posted an announcement for a ‘March for Aleppo’ on facebook which was happening in five hours time I got dressed, had breakfast, and caught a bus, train and tube and arrived half an hour before it started.

On the train up I was reading Rob Lilwall’s “Cycling home from Siberia”. Chapter 28, page 139 starts with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr:

“If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight”.

So when we witness so many horrors in the world today, how are we to act? Are we to act? Is it our responsibility to act, or are other people’s problems their problems, not ours, not ours to interfere with?

Put simply, (if I am correct) there are two sides to the Syria conflict, The Syrian Government with its Allies against a cacophony of Opposition Elements. In fact there are three sides, the Civilians caught in between.

How can we help the Civilians caught in between? Is Martin Luther King Jr right? Is it shameful not to act? On the other hand, if we feel helpless, and have no answers, maybe it is more productive to actually do nothing rather than contribute to making more of a mess than it is at the moment.

The “Hand Up For Syria” campaign is so simple, hardly an act at all, but it is an action, and could help in the overall groundswell of wishes to see peace in Syria. How many of us feel helpless? How many of us sit in our armchairs watching the horrors unfold daily on our television sets?

Whilst watching, if the television presenter asked a question to you as part of the audience, “Would you put your hand up if you would like to see lasting peace in Syria right now?”….would you do it? Do you think it would make any difference to the state of peace in Syria, do you think it would make you feel any different for having made that small act?

There were over a thousand people on the “March for Aleppo”. The majority of placards held high were demonising President Assad, and Russia, and Iran. There were also placards saying “No More Bombs”, “Aid drops not Bombs”, “Stop the Child Killing”, “Peace Now”, and my little sign, “Hands Up if you would like to see lasting Peace in Syria right now”. A few people put their hands up, people smiled at me, people took photos. I had acted. I had tried to spread something I thought might have an effect.

As we walked down Oxford street, then Regent street, past thousands of people all squeezed onto the wide pavements each side, I was chilled to hear the slogan shouted out over and over again:


It was true. But I didn’t see it as a judgement from the marchers, an accusation, a, you’re alright but we’re not. It was, and is, a simple fact, (according to countless news reports, because like many of us, we are not there).

On Christmas day I thought it could be good to spend an hour dedicated to Syria. It’s on my previous blog post. If anyone wishes to join in it’s at Noon Damascus time, that’s 10 am UK time. I’m going to go for a walk for the hour.

About three weeks ago, a group of people from Berlin decided they could not longer sit in front of their laptops watching the horrors in Syria. They came up with a quick idea, and on 26th December an unknown number of them, hundreds maybe, thousands possibly, will set out on a march to Aleppo. Three thousand kilometres, three, four or five months of walking.

They couldn’t stand it any longer. They decided to act. They leave in 8 days time. This is a huge undertaking, a huge act and a number of things could go wrong. But in my opinion they have acted in good faith. They wish for the horrors to stop in Syria, and Worldwide. You can follow their goals, organizing and progress via http://www.civilmarch.org

On my one hour walk, the day before they set off I am going to send them my wishes for as much goodness as possible to follow these people, a kind of blessing for their pilgrimage. They’ll need it, because with such a huge act for peace, negativity will almost undoubtedly try and creep in to try and ruin it.

If you feel totally helpless, totally powerless to effect positive change in our World, would you consider right now putting your hand up if you wish to live in a much much better world right now? It’s a really really small act, but it’s an act. And you might help it happen.


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“Time 4 Syria”.

Evening All.  I wasn’t expecting to do this tonight!  But with the ease in which we can now express ourselves with the help of social media, I have allocated an hour to think about, read about, pray for, learn about, talk about, watch something on television about, Syria. That hour, 12 noon Syrian time, 25th December 2016.

It’s obviously voluntary.  I would love for our World Leaders to get together and lead a prayer for peace in Syria.  I have tried to kickstart it before, but it don’t happen!

However complicated the situation is in Syria, I am convinced that there is a power beyond us that has all the answers.

This hour for Syria is a little effort to try and access some of that power, to access a power for good, for positive change, for change without bombs, without bloodshed, without horror and without terror.  That power is there.  I am convinced of it.

Perhaps you might like to join in in some way.

Times around the world at 12 noon Syrian time can be found on this link.


Comments welcome.  Thanks.  Simon.

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The scratchcards saga.

Bored of the amount of litter hanging around street corners, roadsides, parkland and beaches etc. the professional litter picker, (a while ago), decided to refine his litter picking practices. From then on, for the time being, it was to be a matter of picking up just discarded lottery scratchcards, and also those horrible multiple plastic ring things holding beer cans together that get hooked up in wildlife’s legs, wrapped around their bodies, and tied around their necks, usually resulting in starvation, huge stress, and death. (Long paragraph, I know).

Pick up the scratchcards. Check if they are missed winners. If they are, then claim the winnings and smile. If they’re not winners, then just bin ‘em. As for the horrible plastic ring things, simply pull them apart, breaking the deathly rings, and bin those too.

Recent bike rides to and from work see multiple stops to pick up the offending items.

Missed winners can be found on the scratchcards, admittedly not often, but you can find them.

I found one the other day, (lie). There is a spot outside a newsagents that regularly sees a pile of dumped newly scratched scratchcards, (true).

There were ten in the last pile, purchase value of one hundred and five pounds. The week before, same spot, seven newly scratched scratchcards, purchase value thirty five pounds. A couple of days before that, same spot, sixteen cards, purchase value of eighty two pounds.

So what is the scenario? Newsagents ten yards away, regular newly scratched scratchcards dumped in same spot, just on the road right next to the kerb. Is it a pedestrian? Is it a driver? Is it another scenario?

Wouldn’t it be good to get video evidence! Not to get the person in trouble, not to report the person. The professional litter picker was just interested to see who was doing it.

The scratchcard with a missed winner he picked up the other day had a prize of ten thousand pounds left on it, (lie). All he had to do was walk into the newsagents, present the card, and claim his winnings. Ten thousand pounds for picking up a piece of litter. Not a bad days work. Would you try and find the person who dropped it? Would you put an Ad in the newsagent’s window, “Winning Scratchcard Found, Owner Sought”? Or would you just keep it, happy that the universe was giving you a well earned gift?

The professional litter picker was passing the shop the other night, (true). He was catching a bus to his office. The bus stop is just outside the newsagents.

A person walks out of the newsagents, (true). The person walks to his car holding a wallet and several newly bought scratchcards in his right hand, (true). The person opens their car door, leaving it open, right over the spot where previous piles of scratched scratchcards are dumped, (true).  The person gets into their car.

The professional litter picker gets out his phone, flicks the video on, and starts filming, phone held low down so as not to appear to be blatantly recording proceedings.

Car door still open, cards start to be scratched. Person peeks a look at the cameraman, returns to scratching, peeks at cameraman again, scratches, finishes scratching, folds cards up, peeks at cameraman again, crumples cards up and with considerable effort jams them in their trouser pocket. Not the easiest of things to do whilst sitting down.

It would have been much easier to drop them in the same spot that others had been dropped before.

Car door closes. Driver drives off. No scratchcards on roadside next to kerb. Scratchcards are in driver’s pocket.

Ten thousand pounds is a lot of money. Would you have approached the driver and asked if they dropped scratch cards here before-because you had found a missed winner?

Was this the mystery scratchcard dropper caught on video? If it was, will the dropping stop?

What would you do with a ten thousand pound gift?

Will the saga continue, or is that it?

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Thinking Time.

I get thinking time breaks at my work on the M27 motorway services. Between frequent bouts of hard work we have time to sit down, (or stand up) whilst we wait for the next lorry to come along to be washed.

On a break yesterday I was thinking about my nephew who had just worked some of his passage on a boat trip up the Amazon. I was impressed. And he had a great time.

It made me think. How many jobs have I had during my twenty five (ish) years of on/off travelling abroad?

I made a quick list and soon reached the fifty mark. And that wasn’t counting the numerous cabinet making commissions I was able to find. Four kitchens in the British Virgin Islands, a kitchen, bed and rack of cupboards for a friend in Mallorca. I sculpted a cross from local wood for my Grandmother on El Hierro, the furthest West of the Spanish Canary Islands, where I also built someone the top of half of a dresser, another person a door, and another person I help build a roof. The list for furniture and woodwork commissions goes on.

I recount six separate jobs in France, four in Mallorca, two in mainland Spain, eight different jobs in Thailand, three in Hong Kong.

I have washed dishes in the ski resort of Chamonix, on the party island of Ibiza, on what at the time was known as the gay capital of Europe, Gran Canaria, and also on the Greek side of the island of Cyprus.

I managed to teach English twice in Hong Kong, twice in Thailand.

I starred in a Japanese advert in Thailand earning £450 for a days work. I did have to shave all the hair off my head to earn it though! I was also an extra in three films, all war films, all horrible films.

I restored farmhouses in France for two months, getting the job through a Freead paper. When applying for the carpentry job I told my prospective employer that I had just sold all my tools. He was so desperate though he took the risk and said come anyway.

It worked out. I returned twice in the years to come. Both times for another two months. I helped restore a chalet in the French Alps and a Chateau near Lille. I oiled some benches and tables for the monks in the monastery of St.Bernard in the Swiss Alps.  I helped restore a hostel in Mallorca for many months and made repairs in a hotel for a few weeks.

I spent five months helping restore a World War Two minesweeper in Ibiza, four months in Martinique redecking a sailboat. Spent many months fitting out charter boats in mainland Spain and Mallorca, with additional boat building jobs in Turkey, Cyprus, the South of France, Gran Canaria and Martinique.

I picked oranges in Sparta, Greece for a day. I picked olives in Crete for a day before I cracked my rib slipping on the roof of a pick up. I also had to stop a job in Mallorca for the same reason. I managed to crack another rib whilst wrestling with a glue joint for a bed on a super yacht.

I spent ten days working on a campsite close to Mont St Michel in France. I cleaned bungalows on a beach resort on the island of Koh Samet in Thailand.

I waited tables in the Roof restaurant in Bangkok, served breakfasts in a café in Gran Canaria.

I worked for the fire brigade in El Hierro for a couple of months until I quit following a disagreement with the boss. The next day there was a fire. It was nothing to do with me.

I picked litter on a building site in Gibraltar. (We all got fired on day two, all fourteen of us). I spent two days picking up plastic off a beach in Crete.

I proof read in Hong Kong and was also a bouncer in a nightclub for one night. (Not to be repeated).

I did some night time shop fitting in Munich and some serious sign writing for a store in Martinique.

A lot of these jobs I came across through shear good fortune. Most of the jobs came along when I needed good fortune.

I have my brother to thank for a year and a halves work as manager of a resort in the British Virgin Islands. I left that job because it was too good.

I am sure there are more jobs that I shall remember about tomorrow but these are the ones that just jumped out at me in one of my thinking breaks, at work, at the M27 services, in the UK.

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I’m still here.

I feel a bit of a fraud.  I did rewrite my blog, twice.  The second time it made a lot more sense and I got close to editing it ready for rapid publication on Amazon-but I changed my mind about that.

I’m still here at Rownhams Services on the M27 motorway, (not all the time!).  I figured that as I find it easy to write at these sort of places it would make sense if I could earn a living here too.  I could have tried working for McDonald’s-didn’t really fancy it though.

In the Services car park are several blue cargo containers.  On one of them there is an advertisement for a lorry washing facility.  I rang the number and left a message.  Said I was writing a book here and did they have any temporary work.  I thought whoever owned the business would probably just laugh at me.  I didn’t really even expect a reply.

But I got one.  I have been working washing lorries now for three and a half days.  Damn hard work-but sort of fun, and interesting too.

We spray them with detergent, vigorously brush them and then jet wash to finish.  There’s a rapid turnaround, a lorry gets done in about fifteen minutes.

So I can now work in the car park by day, and write in the services by night.

I still have the blog written up but am now writing a story about a guy called Jenson who makes his way to Greece via Turkey with the intention of trying to help with the Refugee Crisis there, and at the same time clean beaches.  The story is working. Just got to refine it, focus it, and make it a good read.  If I make it good enough maybe it can fund my beach cleaning?  Why not.

Back to washing more lorries on Monday morning.  In the meantime need to find the inspiration to bring Jenson’s book alive….this place is open twenty four hours a day.  I have no excuses, just apathy!

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