George Alagiah interviews us on the BBC
Wednesday 24 October 2007
Alex Horne - 24th October 2007 (United Nations Day)
We met our Qatari at the appointed time! He used to be an ambassador but isn't now so he counts! And he's extremely good at soundbites!
And, Jody, our Nauruan Nurse/Angel got our messages and bravely called us back - despite the fact that we must have looked much more like stalkers than anything else! She's at The Globe at Baker Street right now with Owen! And I'm going to join them in about 8 minutes!
But first, a couple of hastily thought out conclusions:
London scored 189.
That's pretty good. No, there isn't someone from every country in the world living here, but it is now officially the most cosmopolitan city in the world.
Until another city beats 189.
So, no, the story doesn't end here.
For one thing, we plan to write a book about the whole adventure AND have the ultimate global party with someone from every country in the world in one place at one time (hopefully early next year - more information to follow...).
But also, we want to beat 189 ourselves! Whether it be New York, Montreal or Hong Kong, we're almost certainly going to give it another crack...
So please do stay in touch and keep visiting the site for more updates. We may well need your help again soon!
Full story to follow ...
Owen Powell - 24th October 2007
Yesterday, we got an email from a nurse called Jody. Jody is from Nauru! (Well, half from Nauru, but at this stage of the project, half-Nauruan definitely counts).
We both replied, we went to bed, we woke up (all these activities were done individually, in our separate houses), and saw that Jody had not replied. We ummed and ahhed. I had a shower. (I don't know what Alex did). We phoned each other, and decided that as Jody had told us where she worked, we should go to where she worked. Which is a intensive care unit for children in the Royal Brompton Hospital.
It's amazing how far into a hospital you can get without really being ill or injured. We were on the point of going into a classroom for ill children in search of a nurse from Nauru, but saw another nurse in the corridor and asked her instead. "Jody?" she said. "Oh, she was on night shift last night, so she's probably in bed now. Do you want to leave her a message, in case she's working tonight?" Alex scribbled something, in the kind of handwriting a stalker might use, and we hoped for the best.
Later this afternoon, while Alex and I ate lunch (this time, together, at my house) Jody phoned. A Nauruan! Finally! On the very final day that a Nauruan could have phoned!
She told me that she wasn't working tonight, and in fact wanted to come to our last night party, bringing her sister, another half-Nauruan with her. (Two half-Nauruans, in my book, always add up to one whole Nauruan).
Jody and Catherine came to the party, stayed for hours, and put up with everyone else saying, "So, YOU'RE the famous Nauruans!" again and again. But they are the famous Nauruans, in our eyes, and it was a fitting end to the project to interview someone in the final hours of what has been the most amazing year of our lives.
Full story to follow...
Alex Horne - 24th October 2007
If he is to be our final find, we couldn't have asked for anyone more appropriate or erudite than the former Ambassador of Qatar, Mr Al-Khalifa. We met at 6pm, six hours before our deadline, in a perfectly cosmopolitan cafe in Mayfair, where he now resides.
Some Qatar Quotes:
'I don't expect people to smile when walking around. You're busy, you have to get somewhere! People in London are nice.'
'Now it is a global city. No one can claim it. You find yourself in places now and you don't know where in the world you are.'
'When people move around they become aware of each other. They understand each other. That way, there are no more wars. Unfortunately politicians all over the world are backwards when it comes to multiculturalism.'
On Ken Livingston:
'The Mayor is a good man. He is ahead of his time. He understood what people who come from abroad can do for this city. It used to be dark after 5pm on the streets. Not any more!'
'You can't compare it to London. It's a much smaller city. It's a new city with new people. 80% of the people are non-Qataris. There are people from all over the world there. You could find someone from every country in the world there.'
Alex Horne - October 24th 2007
So, we've got less than ten hours left till our year long search comes to an end and there are still five countries to find. Why am I wasting time writing this then? Good question.
Well, first of all, Happy United Nations Day! Good.
And second, I'm afraid we've almost exhausted both our options and ourselves. Here's a quick breakdown of the current situation:
- Qatar: We are meeting a Qatari gentleman (a former ambassador in fact), at six o'clock this evening. If this falls through we will feel extremely foolish.
- Tuvalu: We can confirm that there are absolutely no Tuvaluans living in London. I have, however, met the closest Tuvaluan to London, a lady called Suliana whose house I visited yesterday - more details to follow.
- Palau: Again, we are as sure as sure can be (is that a phrase? It sounds like one but doesn't seem to make any sense) that there are no Palauans in London. We've looked everywhere. The Mayor's office have looked everywhere. People from Fiji, New Zealand, Kiribati and Tuvalu have looked everywhere. In fact, we don't even think there's a Palauan in the whole of the UK. An interesting if frustrating fact if true.
- Marshall Islands: No - no Marshallese people in London I'm afraid. But we have had an email from someone who is half Marshallese, half Nauruan (see below) who lives in Gravesend. We were hoping to pay her a visit but unfortunately we're still waiting for her to get back in touch. Also, we were contacted yesterday evening by...
- Nauru: A nurse from Nauru works in the Royal Brompton Hospital! She emailed us, we emailed back - incredibly excitedly - then nothing... Obviously we paid the hospital a visit this morning only to be told that our one Pacific lead was on night shifts. She's almost certainly asleep as I write this. But we've left messages for her at the hospital and on her email so are hoping to meet her some time before midnight tonight.
Also before midnight tonight we're going to have a drink. In fact, we're hoping to have a drink with a lot of the people we've met over the last twelve months. And even some of the people we haven't met. So if you fancy coming along, we'll be at the Globe* Pub opposite Baker Street tube from 7.30pm tonight.
Again, Happy United Nations Day!
*Globe, by the way, is clearly a deliberate pun - but a multilayered one at that, being as it is an anagram of e-blog. Thank you.
Hello there. Due to popular demand (and because it's a good idea which we really should have thought of ourselves), here is a list of the countries for which we still have no leads. If you are from one of these countries and you now live and work in London, please do get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Or, if you know someone who fits that bill, please do also get in touch (same email address)! Here they are:
On October 4th I wrote this to show where we stood with our last nationalities and we've been updating it ever since. It's now a bit confusing but does say something about how we're getting on and is quite useful for us to see where we've been looking and what we should be doing next. So don't worry too much if it doesn't make much sense but do let us know if you think there's a stone we haven't yet turned.
"We've got twenty days left so I thought I'd start a bit of a countdown to show how we're getting on with the remaining countries. I can't speak for Owen but I'm starting to become entirely consumed by this thing. I've dreamt twice about meeting a Marshall Islander and woken up distraught that it hadn't actually happened.
After 345 days of searching, the end is in sight. But will we succeed? Will we prove that people have come to this tiny corner of the world from every other corner of the world (accepting that there are 192 corners in the world)? I hope so. Or at least I hope we do everything in our power to prove that they haven't...
So here's where we are with TWENTY days to go (4-10-7) (Owen - please correct my mistakes):"
- ANDORRA: After a postponement yesterday and a close call with an Andorran who actually lived in Manchester the day before that, Owen is hopefully meeting Kim this afternoon. COMPLETED 4-10-7!
- BARBADOS: Owen is all set to meet a Bajan pupil at a school in Croydon tomorrow (as well as discussing the project in an entertaining and educational way with the other kids. Well done and good luck Owen). COMPLETED 5-10-7!
- BOTSWANA: After spending yesterday evening going to a gig by a Botswanan band that never actually showed up, I was today contacted by a man called Kabelo to whom I am immensely grateful and whom I should be meeting on Monday. COMPLETED 8-10-7!
- CAMBODIA: After two time-consuming trips to the Vietnam Laos and Cambodia Refugee Centre in Kingsland I finally met Mr Gak (from Vietnam) who gave me the phone number for a Mrs Owen (the head of a Cambodian society based in Southampton) who is now trying to find me someone from Cambodia who lives in London. There are also unconfirmed rumours about a Cambodian restaurant in Camden. Day 19 update: Mrs Owen has given my number to a Cambodian refugee who lives in London and should be calling me soon... Day 17 update: she phoned! And I'm going to meet her in Hackney on Sunday!COMPLETED 14-10-7!
- CHAD: Owen has found someone on a London socialising website. This is a tenuous lead. Day 16 update: Alex has a new email address. We might be getting somewhere. COMPLETED 11-10-7!
- CONGO (Republic of the): My dad has found me a very nice guy called Mr Padzhou whom I was meant to meet yesterday but who had to postpone and so whom I will hopefully be meeting next Monday or Tuesday in Walthamstow. Day 16 update: I should now be meeting Mr Padzhou next Monday. Fingers crossed.COMPLETED 15-10-7!
- COTE D'IVOIRE: A friend of my brother's has given me the phone number of a guy he calls Drogba who I have spoken to and whom I should be meeting on Monday. I have also been chatting to Kolo Toure's agent but we don't know if he actually lives in London yet. COMPLETED 8-10-7!
- DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Owen and I have planned a trip to New Malden next Wednesday. Day 15 update: Owen and I did indeed spend this afternoon in New Malden and spoke to ten South Koreans but zero North Koreans. We did, however, find three leads which Owen is going to chase vigorously. TRIPLE COMPLETED 19-10-7!
- DJIBOUTI: We have nothing. Day 14 update: We have someone!COMPLETED 11-10-7!
- DOMINICA: Owen is hopefully meeting a Dominican this evening. COMPLETED 4-10-7!
- FIJI: A friend of a friend of my wife's is Fijian and returning from a holiday in the middle of next week. Owen may also find one watching their team play South Africa at the rugby world cup on Sunday. Day 17 update: Owen didn't find a Fijian at the rugby and South Africa won. His Samoan did, however, provide us with another lead. Day 14 update: We've also got a lead through Facebook. Day 12 update: Alex went to the Fiji Day celebrations in Aldershot, and met a Fijian. COMPLETED 13-10-7!
- GABON: Oscar from Equatorial Guinea has invited us to the Equatorial Guinea Independence Day next Friday. I can't go unfortunately, but hopefully Owen and someone from Gabon will. Day 13 update: Oscar introduced Owen to the deputy ambassador for Gabon, but meeting him was breaking the rules. Day 10 update: Owen has met someone on Facebook who he is hopefully meeting on the final Monday. COMPLETED 22-10-7!
- GUINEA-BISSAU: Owen's friend Andy might know someone. Day 8 update: we've now been contacted by two more people that may have leads so are starting to feel confident. COMPLETED 23-10-7!
- HAITI: We have nothing. Day 12 update: An email has come in ... COMPLETED 16-10-7!
- KIRIBATI: Tonga from Tonga might know someone from Kiribati. Day 12 update: A lead for Alex from the Fiji day celebrations - hopefully meeting Mr Burentarawa on Tuesday. COMPLETED 16-10-7!
- LAO: Jessica from the last live show has given us an email address whom we are waiting to hear back from. Day 9 update: we still haven't heard back from this contact so are now scouring restaurants. Day 8 update: we have confirmation of a chef from Laos working in a pub in Richmond. I'm going to pay them a visit tomorrow. COMPLETED 18-10-7!
- LESOTHO: We have been trying to find a convenient time to meet lovely Likeng in South London for the last three months. Hopefully it will happen soon. Day 10 update: unfortunately Likeng is now out of the UK until after our deadline. However, I do have a friend from university from Lesotho who lives outside London but whose brother lives in Finsbury Park and who I'm hoping to meet. Day 10 update: Owen has also found someone on Facebook. DOUBLE COMPLETED 17-10-7!
- LIBYA: A friend of a friend of my brother's has located a Libyan whom I emailed today. Owen also might know someone called Molly. Day 17 update: Owen met Molly but Molly lives in Sunningdale - outside of London! I have meanwhile been corresponding with another Libyan lady called Sara whom I hope to meet in the next day or two. COMPLETED 10-10-07!
- MALDIVES: We have nothing. Day 15 update: my elder brother's fiancee has a friend who has a friend from the Maldives who's in the Maldives at the moment but whose brother is in London and who we might be able to meet.COMPLETED 12-10-7!
- MARSHALL ISLANDS: We have nothing. Day 3 update: Somebody living in Gravesend (just outside London) is half-Nauruan, half-Marshallese. We're going to try to speak to her before our deadline.
- MAURITANIA: A very nice person called Fatima (from Sierra Leone) has put me in touch with her aunt's husband Gibril whom I am meeting on Tuesday. COMPLETED 9-10-07!
- MICRONESIA: One of our previous finds has set up a secret meeting... COMPLETED 20-10-7!
- NAURU: We have nothing. Day 2 update: A Nauruan nurse (IN LONDON!) emailed us. We're going to go looking for her on our last day. COMPLETED 24-10-7!
- NICARAGUA: Owen's contact has had to pull out due to poor health. We are back to square one. Day 16 update: Alex appeared on LBC Radio and now we have a new lead. COMPLETED 10-10-7!
- NIGER: Doundosy from Burkina Faso may be able to help. Day 6 update: Ibrat from Uzbekistan phoned - he's found us a man from Niger who works at the World Service, and Owen is meeting him on Monday.COMPLETED 22-10-7!
- PALAU: We have nothing.
- PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Nick, a contact whom we had almost give up on, phoned Owen today and they're hopefully meeting next Tuesday. COMPLETED 9-10-7!
- QATAR: Surprisingly, we have nothing. Day 15 update: Sara, our Libyan, may know someone. Fingers crossed. Day 1 update: We should be meeting our Qatari this evening .... COMPLETED 24-10-7!
- SAMOA: Owen is hopefully meeting a lady called Pele tomorrow. COMPLETED 5-10-7!
- SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE: See Gabon. Day 13 update: Unfortunately, there were no Sao Tome and Principians at the party... Day 9 update: a very nice BBC World journalist put us in touch with someone called Sao whom I am meeting tomorrow! COMPLETED 19-10-7!
- SOLOMON ISLANDS: A very nice Priest gave me another Priest's (from the Solomon Islands) phone number but so far there's been no reply. Day 19 update: Ben, the Solomon Islander Priest has called! We are hopefully meeting on Tuesday... COMPLETED 8-10-7!
- SURINAME - Very nice Fatima put me in touch with someone called Rachel from Suriname who's on holiday but returns next week. Day 17 update: Rachel has been in touch and we're trying to meet tomorrow. COMPLETED 9-10-07!
- SWAZILAND - My other brother has tried to help but as yet there's been no reply from his contact so we are still pinning our hopes on Richard E. Grant whose agent says he's too busy. Day 16 update: we've been emailed by a Swazilander! And we're arranging a meeting.COMPLETED 11-10-7!
- TUVALU - Owen's friend Zane has put us in contact with someone called Joshua who put us in touch with the wife of a guy called Avau whom we're waiting to hear back from. Day 11 update: I also got a couple of contacts from people I met through Patrick and Philomena at the Fiji Independence Day Party in Aldershot. Day 6 update: we are now being told by everyone who might know that there are categorically no Tuvaluans in London. I have been emailing a kind and patient lawyer/author called Philip Ells who doesn't know any, Owen has visited the Honorary Consul who lives in Tuvalu House down in Merton but is actually from Tanzania, and I've just spoken to a Mrs McNaughton who is from Tuvalu but lives in Ayrshire, Scotland. She told me she knows all four of the other Tuvaluans in the UK and they live in Exeter, York, Carlisle and Alton respectively. Still, we have not given up yet... Day 1 update: By now, we're pretty sure there are no Tuvaluans in London.
That's it. It's tangible. But time is running out.
If you can help with ANY of these countries please get in touch.
As always it's email@example.com.
We would love to hear from you.
'I'm going to stop you right there'
Alex Horne - 24th October 2007
I spoke to a man called Giff Johnson in the Marshall Islands on Tuesday night (although it was Wednesday morning for him). He's been the editor of the Marshall Island Journal for the last 22 years (that link would not have been possible two weeks ago, by the way - the islands' best (and only) newspaper's website went live for the first time on October 10th).
'I'm going to stop you right there', he said in a strong American accent when I'd told him roughly what I needed. 'We tried to find someone in London last year for another organisation and we searched and searched and couldn't find anyone. I'm sure nothing's changed since then'.
So there we go. There's no one here from the Marshall Islands. Just as we suspected but didn't want to believe.
The organisation doing that research last year, by the way: The Daily Mail. Ironic?