Tuesday, 24 October 2006
United Nations Day
Alex Horne - 24th October 2006
After three months' procrastination we finally set off in search of every nationality in the world now living within Greater London. Our meeting place: Charing Cross, the epicentre of the capital, from which all distances to and from London are measured. Our meeting time: 10am. Early.
I arrived full of nervous energy, still not quite believing that we were about to approach a lot of complete strangers and ask them where they've come from and why. Central London was wearing its usual matching grey outfit of drizzle and puddles. We were ready to start.
Then Owen called to say he was still in bed, hungover, but would be there as soon as possible. The procrastination lingered a little longer.
Luckily I had one more job to do before getting started. I realised on the tube down that we would probably need business cards to give to each person found to at least try to convince them that we were genuine writers/investigators/visionaries and so I headed optimistically back into Charing Cross station, searching for one of those Business Card Printing Machines that I've never seen anyone use and have always wondered for whom they are meant.
Typically, now that I was that whom, I couldn't find a machine anywhere. I wandered round London's unhealthy heart, passing the Canadian Embassy (like all embassies, out of bounds for the course of this project) and feeling the rain draw steadily up my trousers.
Eventually I gave up, finding myself instead in London's true hub, the awful awful Trocadero centre, where for the first time I entered a London Tourist Shop, bought ten London postcards (well, the sign did say 10p each or 10 for a pound), and sat on some steps near some truant teens scribbling our details unconvincingly under ironic slogans like 'Brilliant Big Ben' and 'The Glittering West End'.
At last Owen arrived and we were ready to start. I'd even lined up our first target, a young and (crucially) approachable looking man working (well, standing in a uniform) near the basketball game machines. We stuck a quid in the contraption and hatched a plan whilst failing to score enough hoops to impress the crowd of two that had gathered behind us to watch a sporting encounter for free.
Finally, at 11.45am, on the 24th October, United Nations Day 2006, we advanced towards Carl Sisson, blurted out our story and just about persuaded him to tell us his: he's a 20 year old customer service worker in charge of a motion simulator in the basement of the Trocadero. He's been living in Tottenham for the last three and a half years and is now doing a numeracy and literacy course in the hope of finding a better paid job. He likes London. And most importantly of all, he's from the Philippines!
Our total was One! And it had all been much easier than we'd led ourselves to believe over the past 100 odd days. Yes, we felt like we were giving him some sort of right-wing Nationality Test; yes, we barely asked him anything about his own country; and no, he didn't give us his email address. But he did pose for a photo and he does think we can achieve our goal ("London is a very multicultural society" he said encouragingly but slightly as if we'd forced it out of him). All in all, a shy and awkward encounter on all three sides but ultimately we'd set our international ball rolling.
As a sign of gratitude we paid three pounds fifty for a go in Carl's Space Race Simulation Machine. The jubilation at having broken our duck got me through the five painful minutes of clumsy juddering. To my right, however, Owen felt sick. Served him right. I wouldn't even let him press the emergency red button to let us out early. There would be no stopping us now.
The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas), officially the Republic of the Philippines (Republika ng Pilipinas), is an island nation located in the Malay Archipelago in Southwest Pacific, with ManilaModern day Filipinos are mostly of Austronesian stock, although there are a number of Filipinos with Spanish, Chinese, American, and Arab ancestry.
The country was named "Las Islas Filipinas" by Ruy López de Villalobos after King Philip II of Spain. A Spanish colonial rule began in 1565 and lasted for about three centuries until the Philippine Revolutionof 1896. The United States gained possession of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War in 1898 and ruled the country for about five decades. Philippine culture has many affinities with the West. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, and Filipino is an official language, along with English.
The most commonly played sport in the Philippines is basketball.