22 Jan 2009

Blogging from the heart of a pagan enterprise

Landing at Heathrow this morning, well slept on my BA flight from Washington, I suddenly recall an experience I had last week coming in from Jerusalem. I had been there for tonight’s Dispatches (Gaza Unseen at 11pm tonight, Channel 4). This is the mental blog I made at the time –

Strangely, these days a lot of movements at the new T5 terminal seem to involve a bus ride. The bus was there at the bottom of the steps. So was a very beautiful attendant in a chadoor, exceptionally beautiful. I boarded the bus along with many others from my BA flight from Tel Aviv and was suddenly conscious of the chadoor-clad woman outside, contrasting with an array of yarmulkes. There were half a dozen Hassidic Jews too. And I thought, if my old dad had been there we’d have had a dog collar on the bus, too.

Then I thought about the God Doesn’t Exist bus ad that’s doing the rounds in London and I thought about religion and wondered why we have to wear so inner a conviction so ostentatiously on our outer sleeve. How much of the woe I have had to report over the past quarter century has been about outward religious difference.

Arriving at the multimedia emporium I work in, I saw my Muslim friend already at her desk. No outward visible sign that she is one, and I have never asked her how much of a Muslim she is anyway. It’s no business of mine, and she wears nothing to suggest that it should be.

I suppose some would say that I am in the heart of a pagan enterprise. I never discuss faith with people I work with – it doesn’t honestly interest me. I have no objection to people having the freedom to wear whatever they want to. I’d protest to defend them. And yet…



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