Friday, 27 February 2009

Algiers to Gabes(Tunisia)

Convoy going uphill
View of the 'Little' Kebylla from the high plains of Algeria

The cold Djebel Chambi National Park. The mountains form a complete ring, and it would appear to be a gigantic extinct volcano.
Munir examines his dinner, whilst others tell tales of the convoy
Trees at sunset on the Algeria/Tunisia border, with the Pea's windscreen and condensation
Algerian soldiers at Constantine, with a Thorb in the middle.
Yvonne Ridley of press TV, accompanying the convoy, interviews our mysterious benefactor from Algeria
Boys with their toys.

I'm reporting to you from another four star hotel provided free of charge by an Arab Government. The last few days represent the ups and downs and contradictions in our fortunes. Last night was the coldest night of my life, sleeping in the van on the high plateau in the National Park called Djebel Chambi, while I am writing this tonight from my soft, warm, bed in a sea front hotel in Gabes Tunisia. The hotel is being run more like a hostel; I am in  a two bedded room which has had an extra bed put in it, and normal hotel services, such as washing clothes, have been suspended whilst they cope with 250 of us, but it is still a great hotel.

The reason for the differance in fortunes is that the Tunisian Government intended us to stay in this hotel last night. I've just talked to the hotel manager, and he is mightily annoyed at having to get ready for us all for a second night at such short notice, and told me at great length how he had all his staff working until 4am last night in anticipation of our arrival. Some people did arrive, some as late as 4am, but the main section of the convoy was stopped, as I said, just inside the border of Tunisia, and we were ordered to park up and sleep. The reasons for this go back to the problems at the beginning of the convoy.

The trip through Europe was not disorganised - it wasn't organised at all. Someone looked at a map, and set arbitrary travelling times for each day. It is quite reasonable to travel 500 miles a day on your own, but in convoy with slow moving vehicles, these times are difficult to achieve. Add in the organisation of civic receptions in San Sebastian, for which no time has been allowed, and gross errors, like forgetting to add in the mileage to Madrid, and you have impossible schedules that require virtually 24 hour driving, leading to fatigue, and a few bumps, although nothing worse. This situation was further compounded by the refusal of Galloway's man on the ground, Kevin, a hard man who was plainly stressed to breaking point, to listen to anyone or contemplate change. As a result, crews rebelled in Tangier and  the idea of travelling through Rabat was abandoned, although we still had a long journey to Fez, arriving late, and after a serious accident.

In Tipaza, the hotel resort near to Algiers, George Galloway arrived, and I filmed him being confronted by 2 middle aged, middle class, white ladies from the South East, complaining about the excessive length of the journeys, and the danger of the long long hours. The previous day had been the worst so far. We had been ordered to be ready to travel at 6 am, and as usual, we were. But also as usual the convoy did not get going until 1030 or so, and then did not stop driving until 4am 22hours. The police had decided that our section of the convoy would go to some unspecified resort East of Algiers, but then there was a problem with that. Some people went directly to Tipaza, another resort before Algiers, and were there by 11pm, but we were shepherded round the Algerian countryside for hours through the night until it was decided that we would also go back to Tipaza, a place we had passed many hours ago. At one point we found ourselves on a minor road, without police support, travelling to an unknown destination, an unknown distance away. The crews rebelled and decided to park on the side of the road and go to sleep. At this point a police car arrived; I asked where we were going and was told that we were only 10 kilometres away, but the drivers simply didn't believe him and refused to move. I told him to Allez and we would Suivons, but he must go immediately, or the crews would be in bed. He objected that he must wait for some reason - orders or some such, and there was a problem with parking; I'm told by others that my voice could be heard at the back of the convoy as I told him that he should Allez Immediatement, if we were to follow, and he did. All's well that ends well, although I fell asleep at the wheel three times on that journey, and stayed awake only by singing Men of Harlech at the top of my voice. I am still friends with Munir, however, he can sleep through anything.

So these ladies confronted George. This may be a matter of the police, they said, but it was a recurring theme. We wasted time in assembly, planned badly, tried to make impossible distances, then were forced to take a rest day to recover. We are now 3 days behind, but we feel lucky to be all in one piece. George was less than impressed. Travel to Gaza was dangerous he said, and it was the personal responsibility of every individual to do what they feel comfortable with. If they feel they cannot go on, they should stop. He never promised them a rose garden and they should get out of the kitchen if they can't stand the heat. The worst of his anger was reserved for me, however. He tried several times to get me to stop filming, and continued to try and stop me even when the argument attracted the travelling film crew and others.After the camera was turned off he said that he would throw me off the convoy if I ever filmed him again without his permission. Later discussions with him, brokered by friends, failed to produce any thawing of attitude.

Well, I'm not the first person to have received this threat from the leadership.

Of course his attitude is simply wrong. The local governments would not tolerate individuals breaking off from the convoy and doing their own thing. In any case the impact of the convoy is in its completeness. People turn out to cheer and to wave not at a random collection of vehicles, but at a disciplined convoy of vehicles which is often taken through towns, sirens wailing, whilst other traffic is pushed to the side of the road. Without the discipline and integrity of the convoy there is nothing. But then the convoy is an entity that it is difficult to escape. I constantly feel frustrated that I cannot get to shops because the Convoy moves around large towns, and does not stop. But then it does stop in the middle of nowhere and we all hang about. Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. Our whole life, like that of a soldier, is in the hands of the organisers: when we get up, drive, eat - or not - sleep and relax, if at all. Galloway is the man who will get all the credit for this journey, and we are his cannon fodder. Just like a war, he owes it to his troops to do the best he can for them. He wants to blame relations with local police and governments for the problems, but the fact is that he has no specialist staff working on the project, although there are several people with logistics experience travelling with the convoy. We cannot be sure what the balance of blame is in North Africa, but the organisation in Europe was so totally execrable, and entirely the fault of the convoy organisation; now people will always distrust George's outfit when it comes to deciding responsibilities.

Nevertheless, After Tangier, a camper van turned up on the convoy, from Portugal, with a married couple in it, striking in that she, a tall willowy blonde, is the only woman not wearing a headscarf of some sort. I have spoken to them, but they deny that they have been brought in to strengthen the organisation, although they have brought extra CB radios - essential for communication up and down the chain of command. But the big change came after the confrontation in Algiers. 

To end the confrontation with the women, Mr Galloway agreed to a public meeting and discussion, and to an extended meeting of the team leaders. Two things were agreed there, that there should be, in principle, a night time driving ban, and that crews should get organised in their groups, and so have a little autonomy within the convoy structure. 

The second part of this agreement was ignored immediately, as we all set off from Tipaza in a mad straggle, but the distance rule held, and we had a good journey to Constantine, up over some very rugged peaks. We discussed how the city was named after the same Roman Emperor I have mentioned before, who brought Christianity to the Empire, and how the road was travelled by the companions of Mohammed, preaching the word of Islam. Being in a minority of Infidels on the convoy has really heightened my understanding of how the very landscape has been affected by these great religious movements, and needless to say, still does. It is purely for religious reasons that we are on our way to Gaza, if you think about it, and it is religion that drives the naming and renaming of places - Canaan, Samaria, Israel, Palestine. The ancient town of Nablus has been in all these countries, and in Syria as well.

Anyway, the next day we set off for the border, and reached it only two hours behind schedule. The Tunisians processed us through the border at a fast clip, not more than half an hour, seeming to dispense with customs altogether. I must digress and tell you about this area around the frontier. Very High, it is freezing cold, poor soil, constant dust storms. While we were re-fueling we even got a few flakes of snow. Snow can be an enjoyable experience, but this area seems to be permanently ravaged by strong winds, which give a wind chill factor of several degrees. Trust me, even the Yukon in December did not feel so bitterly cold. The locals here wear a Thorb, a thick all in one floor to hair garment that makes them look like Darth Vader, but more handsome. I covet one of these items, but have been unable to find the time to buy one, for the reasons above.

Since Tipaza I have been suffering from something which is probably flu. I have been aching in my bones and running a temperature, not eating and sleeping all day. From Constantine to the Djebel Chambi we had to call in the services of a spare driver to help out as I lay helpless in the back seat of the van. I don't want your sympathy, not yet anyway. I'm building a picture of the laws of unintended consequences, perhaps you've already guessed. As a result of the changes made to the operation, travel times are limited to daylight and early evening hours. As the convoy set off across the the Tunisian border we were updated on the rows going on between Kevin and the Tunisian authorities. They wanted everyone to make the journey all the way to Gabes that night, a journey of an extra 200 kilometres or 125 miles, but Kevin, now instructed on the day-time rule with the same inflexibility that he previously held the laissez faire rule, was arguing that we should find somewhere before that. So the police just stopped us on the road in the coldest part of the world I have ever experienced, especially as I was shivering from the flu anyway. Those who did make it all the way were given a hot meal even at 4am, and then had all of today at leisure, while we had to wash in cold water and drive for 4 hours before the usual chaotic scenes of checking in. If only we hadn't had that silly rule of short driving hours I wouldn't be freezing to death, and stumbling over cactus to pee.

C'est la vie. It's easy to think that if we had all made it to the hotel life would have been better, but I don't think so. As the Hotel manager confirms, there was no intention for the hotel to be used for a second night. If we had all arrived at the hotel in the middle of the night we would have been expected to be up and on the road at 6am (why is it always 6am? We never move before 10 anyway), and life would have continued in the same overtired way. There still does not appear to be the sort of time planning that I have been asking for. Driving 125 miles in a saloon car, even on a bad road, might be expected to take less than three hours, on a motorway only 2, but in a convoy, 4 is the minimum, and we are still forgetting that.

Libya today - I'm writing this by the lifts in the hotel at 5.46 am, because this is the only place that I can get Wi-Fi - so we'll be moving soon, and rumours are that we have a big reception in Tripoli with Gaddafi on Saturday. So it will be another long drive today, then.

catch up.

The following 2 posts are out of sequence. They were lost when the electricity failed at Tipaza. I might find a way to put them in order later.

Hurtling Through Morocco

When we left Tangier Port on Wednesday, we went on a madcap, horn blowing victory saluting whirlwind ride to a country club near by. We were escorted by siren screaming police cars and outriders and the population stood on the roadside and cheered and cheered, whilst oncoming motorists blow their horns, flashed their lights and gave waves and victory salutes in their thousands. The din and the clamour were incredible, and the noise we made was equally outrageous.

As usual, we arrived at the country club too late to eat, since we were in the last batch of vehicles to leave the port, and barely had we got there than we began an equally madcap ride through the night to Fez. In our itinerary, we left Tangier, all 110 vehicles, after 10 minutes in customs, had a leisurely lunch, and then made our way to Fez in daylight and retired to bed at 8pm. But as with the dangerously long Spanish legs, the distances didn't look bad on paper if you failed to understand that customs clearance for 100 vehicles could easily take 2 days or more, and so even with special arrangements, 15 minutes is optimistic. In the event we were out in about 6 hours,  and we began the ride to Fez at 7pm. 300 kilometres at about 60mph. The convoy, as before was broken into 20 strong sections, and we were savvy enough to get in the head of the queue, as group discipline evaporated, and vans pushed up behind the police to drive them along. The road was a toll 'motorway', lea ving plenty of overtaking opportunities which were soon taken, As we pulled up to toll booths, sometimes we would be allowed to form an extra lane, sometimes not, but then the trucks turned away from one line would be trying to force their way into another. Once beyond the booth trucks aggrieved that they had lost their position near the front would overtake and force their way in higher up the line. 

Someone had described the competitive feel of the driving as Wacky Races, but all this while we had been climbing, and now the road turned downhill, into the bowl of Fez. 

Trouble was brewing, too, for all the other reasons that I've talked about. Drivers were tired. There was, for many, a fear of the unknown. Just as Lager Louts cannot comprehend that people of another country have a different culture, and will not understand English even if you shout it, so some members of the convoy were disappointed, on this their first visit to North Africa, to find that the Police and Customs still had a job to do, and were not going to allow us to stroll through the country as an occupying force. Paranoia develops. 'They are trying to keep us from meeting the people', said some, while buying a coffee from the local stall in the Port, and having no comprehension of Customs Bonding. All our goods are in transit, no tax has been paid, and the vehicles are corralled and guarded each night. It's normal.

The first I saw of trouble was at what turned out to be the last toll booth on the motorway to Fez. The two vehicles in front of us were 'unable' to pay the toll in local Dirhams, and a row was developing. "They took Euros at the last toll', the ring leader said. I gave them 100 dirhams for the 2 vehicles, but now it had become a battle of wills and the recalcitrant cars would still not pay. 'It should be free, they're keeping the money, and putting it in their own pocket'.  'We were promised that it would be free, think how much money we would save to give to the Children of Gaza' said another. The cost of the toll was 46 Dirhams, about £4.

More people arrived from the back of the convoy to see what was happening. Someone complained that the police were leading the convoy down the hill at 70mph, and it was dangerous. It was. the toll booth martyrs did not like having their thunder stolen, and a fight started. People stepped in to calm the situation down, and the testosterone levels rose still higher.

The police had no choice but to give in and allow the convoy through without payment. It was now about 1 am, and  no one had any idea how far we still had to go. For most drivers it was the fifth night in a row that they had not gone to sleep before 3am, and had had to start early the next morning. so everyone was in a rush. The Motorway ended, and we were on a winding country road down a steep hill in thick fog. Vehicles pressed forward. the police speeded up, the English Ambulances put on their sirens and overtook round blind bends, relying on the police escorts to have stopped oncoming traffic. It was not Wacky Races, it was madness. Suddenly our small section stopped. An argument developed between the Police and those who thought that the pace set was too quick. We decided to leave this section and proceed at our pace along the road. About a mile ahead we saw a small section of the convoy pulled over. There was obviously a problem. We stopped and got out. A Policeman was ambling aimlessly around, and we asked what was the problem? "Glissade" he said - Skid. We walked up a little way, and there it was, nose into the ditch, at right angles to the highway, three people laid out alongside. It was a Police Car.

The three were only injured, though quite badly, and we waited whilst an ambulance arrived, blue lights flashing. How ironic that there were several UK Ambulances parked there at the time. 

Our journey had not yet ended. When the convoy resumed, we were taken along a narrow dirt road, some part up a very steep hill in which first gear was barely enough. We got stuck behind a slow truck, and the head of the convoy disappeared over the horizon. When we got on the flat it was obvious that we had lost the police leaders, and we were lost. Once again the toll booth martyrs started their paranoid rants. 'Why are they leading us down these dirt roads in the dark?' They're trying to get rid of us' said another, 'it's a plan to break up the convoy' said another, although nobody could think of a reason why that should be the case, what the motivation was. When I re-interviewed these guys the next day, they were barely penitent, but they couldn't look at the camera. Tiredness. A couple of us walked to the end of the convoy, where the escort at the rear simply moved to the front and away we went. Our destination was a fabulous country Club style hotel sat in the green land that is Morocco in daylight. Of course it took another 2 hours to allocate rooms. 4 or 5 to a 3 bedded room; but at least we were asleep by 3am. The rest of the convoy arrived 7, and there were no more rooms.

The next day a constant succession of homeless personnel showered in our room, and we had bookings for floor space from six. However, eventually the surplus, or most of it, got bussed off to another hotel, although some refused to go and we still had extra on our floor. But, oh yes, at the cost of three policemen, the madness of the disorganised convoy was at last stopped. We got a day off.

They make us feel like heroes

If anyone knows how to throw a parade it's the Arabs. All over the middle east you can be feted in a parade of official cars with horn blowing and cheering, but nothing prepares you for what we got in Morocco. On the first day the short drive through the city of Tangier to our lunch appointment was quite short, and being the last of a stretched out set of departures, there were only several hundred people along the roadside, and after leaving lunch it was dark and we took the motorway, so, apart from some few skirmishes with well-wishers, we had to wait until the journey from Fez to Oujda to get the full force of Moroccan opinion on the subject of the convoy.

To use words like overwhelming doesn't do any of the journeys justice. It was not the crowds in the larger towns that was so impressive, although they were, it was the individuals and small groups that lined the road in the countryside and small villages, obviously delighted . ecstatic in some cases. Workmen stopped work, children stopped playing, men brought out their small children to show them the convoy hurtling past. Women washed their faces and blew kisses, teenagers shouted encouragement like 'May Allah make the journey short for you!' They would rush to shake hands if the vehicles slowed, but they were mainly shouting support and well wishes. people routinely gave small presents if the opportunity came - water, juice and the like. But there was no-one who was not involved. Perhaps the grumpies stayed in their house that day, but from single farmers leading a donkey to groups of boys in a small town, all were on our side.

It brought tears to my eyes over and over again. They were making us feel like Heroes.

Heroes, not celebrities. When you are attracted to a celebrity, you want to meet them, get their autograph; you want them to give you something, but this was the other way round. People wanted to give us their love, and they wanted it to be taken to Gaza. For this purpose, they wanted to give us, their messengers, the means to get there - food drink, encouragement, love, indeed, but especially they wanted to let us know with the universal two fingered salute, that they expect us to go on to victory.

But then it began to dawn on me. They were - are - entrusting and empowering us to get into Gaza on their behalf. They really care about the Palestinians and they really beleive that we're going to do something about it! Can you feel how much responsibilty they are placing on our shoulders? Every time the van gets mobbed by a few hundred townsfolk, or every time some woman blows kisses or touches her heart, or every time a man, like the one in the picture, waves and waves at you and shouts Allah Akbar I feel like a hero who has been given the expectations of an entire nation to carry. I hope that I can do it, though you'll understand my fear that I won't - that we can't.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Things don't always work out!!

They made us feel like Heroes
Welcome to Algeria

An Algerian Motorway

The Fez:Police and Security in Fez
Gas Wells in Algeria

Before dinner speeches in the wedding hall in Oudja

What was the the Trunk Road from Morocco to Algeria and the rest of North Africa.

Group 11 in Fez. Back row from left Brighton, Gloucester, Blackburn, Oxford, more Gloucesters with Munir at back. Group Leader at front right, rest assorted from previous list .

It's not a coincidence that signalling 11 involves 2 fingers.

I couldn't photgraph the cheering crowds at night, but these boys were photographed while the police were 'keeping the crowds away' in a gas station with illumination from a Pea headlight

The Road up the Atlas in Morocco

Three Shepherds with the convoy and gas Wells behind - Algeria

I haven't been able to get into somewhere with the internet for days. Today I put up a blog, but I was uploading lots of pictures. I've been here for 4 hours, and the electricity has just failed. This is Algeria. I have lost every picture - I mean that I still have them on my hard drive, but not uploaded. I've lost the youtube video too. I will never complain about upload speeds again, after the snail's pace here. So here are some random pictures for you to play with.

Oudja (Morocco) to Near Algiers

I'm writing several days behind events, and so I'm going to make this a general catch-up. On the negative side, the troubles brewing about the organisation are still brewing, and have even intensified, but today I'm going to do a travelogue, with pictures.
On our way through the Atlas foothills to Fez, we stopped for lunch at Guercif, a pretty little village, and we had lunch at the local big-wigs house, and what a lunch. Every table of 10 or so started off with soup, meat soup, then we moved to a whole roasted lamb for each table, with a vegetable garnish, then a dish of four roast chickens per table - remember that there are over 250 of us - and then it was sweet mint tea, a Moroccan speciality, and huge bowls of fruit. When we arrived at Oudja we were taken to a wedding house, am entertainment centre for celebrations, and there we were treated to a first course of soup, followed by a dish of roast lamb, a dish of roast chicken, sweet mint tea and fruit. Of course it is a traditional Moroccan feast for special occasions, and every where we go, it seems is a special occasion for the local residents. I don't know how I am going to make an impact on the heart-strings of the folks back home if I keep talking about all these hardships and self-sacrifices that I'm making.
We arrived late in Oudja, went to bed late, woke up early and went to the local cafe for breakfast - eggs, or bread and jam and coffee. You should have seen the startled look on the proprietor's face when the disheveled crews, instead of walking past his restaurant, turning in to its early morning emptiness.
After re-fuelling, and in the absence of the promised buses, we caught a cab back to the meeting point at the wedding place. There were some delays, and we entertained ourselves watching the main North Africa Highway blocked for about ten minutes by the local flock. That's a bit unfair really, as the border between Oudja and Algeria has been closed for fifteen years, so there's no-one to travel on the Highway.
Except us. We had received permission to cross, and so we rolled the 2 kilometres up to the border and through into Algeria. Well, the head of the convoy rolled through into Algeria, but the tail was still parked in Morocco. It took all day to process the documents. I must say, that in my opinion, and cotrary to the views of many others, I feel that the governments of both Morocco and Algeria, have done us very well. The food in Morocco and accommodation was provide by them, and in Algeria they also through in free petrol, although at an unscheduled stop were arrangements were not in place, a local benefactor stepped in and paid for the entire convoy, spontaneously. Really, there shouldn't be a dry eye in the house. I interviewed him, he had nothing to say except that he loved Palestine.
Eventually we get through, and of course all the planned arrangements have to be changed, and we are taken to a parking place a few kilometres away, where we sleep in the vehicles - except women - and breakfast starts at 4.17am. (That's when I went to the toilet and speculatively punted the idea that someone might produce a cup of tea. 'You can come in to breakfast' said a waiter, so I did) There was no tea, but bread and jam and strong coffee, and it's amazing how quickly the place filled up.
We started driving at about 9am, and were constantly marshalled by efficient police in 4X4s. Actually their courtesy should be mentioned, because they never understood the concept of discreet groups in the convoy, and the system broke down completely, but they were unfailingly polite and helpful, at least in so far as language would allow.
On the way over flat fertile lands, we passed dense agricultural fields, shepherds working the roadside verges and waste places, sheikhs in keffiyas (checkered scarves), and a sophisticated clas of business men and women, sophisticatedly dressed, both with and without Islamic accoutrements. I made a friend of an Algerian Journalist who was among a group who met us at the border. Some wanted to learn English, some to talk about the world, and very many came to chant slogans in solidarity with those vehicles where people were prepared to join in with them - which was many. They waited patiently for 8 or nine hours without complaint, and various organisations kept turning up with bags of roast chicken and lamb sandwiches, as well as water and juice. The total miles we did that day was about 25, and we had no idea of the storm that awaited us. At the roadside the people were calm, reserved, quite unlike Morocco. A few shy waves, the occasional excitement, but mostly they were watching. However we discovered that if we waved first, they responded, generally very strongly. As an actor might say, we were learning to work the crowds.
As I said above, the next day's drive began at 9am or so and the crowds were again supportive but restrained, we stopped and started our way along main highways avoiding the towns, but at each village there would be knots of people watching us. Late in the afternoon we stopped right outside a cafe, which didn't sell tea, but donated a juice, a sunny terrace, a toilet, oh and a burger in a baguette. It was lamb, and it was delicious.
Shortly after our customary stop for evening prayers, we started going through more urban terrain, though still small scale. As night fell the crowds got larger, and began to spill off the pavement into the roads. Each settlement slowed the pace of the convoy to slower than walking, and then, once clear, everyone roared away to catch up with those in front, and the convoy once again became a race-track for those who wanted it so, and as the driving went on and on through the evening and into the night, with no information, people began to notice that we had turned back on ourselves, and, indeed we finished up at a place 30 kilometres back from where we had reached, so we could have saved 60 by going straight there, and instead of going to bed at 5am, we might have got there at 2. (Convoy time does not compute into KPH divided by distance, because there is a great deal of stopping, marshalling and crawling, especially as I mentioned through the towns in the evening. Nevertheless, we did 400 miles, and we are now outside Algiers).
Once again there will be a rest day and we will have a genearl meeting, the first one, to discuss how the problems can be resolved - or if. I'll let you know.
Back in the real world, those crowds were exhausting. Not only did they make us feel like heroes, but they also, now that they were demonstarbly more demonstrative, became somewhat overwhelming, at least if you're a shy retiring type like me. Doing high fives as the vehicles travel at extreme slow speeds through the crowded streets, often pushing, gently, the folks out of the road to make a path; doing those high fives invites the pasionate to grab your hand with both of theirs and whilst they give you their impassioned blessings, to bend your arm round the windows and bang your elbow. once or twice I was seriously worried that I have my arm broken; but which would I rather have - to witness these scenes of fervent support and hope and have a broken arm, or to stay at home.
Oh I'm so glad that I came.

Benefit, blog bells and whistles - and missiles

A short note with solidarity from musicians, audience and your good people at Alexanders benefit last night. Greetings to Team 11 and the rest. We made sure the crowd knew about your blog Rod, - comments are coming in now - there's one underneath your last post.

Popped an email about this blog to the 'Gorgeous George' press office. (You might get more food rations...)

There's been some strong letters in the local papers in support of you all. Some against. Some saying an arms trade ban with Israel is 'the least' we should be asking for.

The Guardian is running a story about Amnesty International's demand to stop military aid to Israel from the U.S. Missile shells traced back to Raytheon.

There's a history of protest around here at the Raytheon plant. We have a contact to the Raytheon 9 so that might be a good focus for a public meeting or future benefit in Chester. When you've got a minute, (which we know you haven't) - let us know what the feeling is from there on this one. Take care you all.

This post by Frances Laing - writing from the U.K.