All the fun of the fair


Sandwiched between Young Scot and Safe Sex, will Leith Open Space attract any interest at Telford’s Student Festival of Learning? Click ‘more’ to find out.

Setting up my stall at the Student Festival of Learning in Edinburgh’s Telford College I soon realised that I was a bit short of merchandise. Thanks to Tommy we had the biggest and boldest banner in the hall and I had put together a nice display of bright leaflets about intercultural arts events, voluntary work and community gardens. Then I discovered Leith Open Space was sandwiched between Young Scot and Safe Sex and it was obvious they both had a much more interesting selection of freebies.

“It’s all about give aways,” said one of the Young Scots sympathetically as a queue gathered in front of his stall to pick up some very smart triangular plastic markers. Then I looked to my left and saw a crowd of young women lining up to examine a rather different line of plastic give aways on the Safe Sex stall.

I sent a surreal text to family and friends. “Amazing”, Tom texts back, “take a picture”. Soyoungscots.jpg I did and got rather a good one of Ms Safe Sex sipping a pot noodle but sadly she told me they are not allowed to be photographed for publication. Mr Young Scot had no such qualms, “Just make sure it’s my good side.”

All in all, Telford’s Diversity Day was so interesting I stayed twice as long as I intended. With Mike Cowley’s help I even had time to sit in on a couple of workshops which gave me a glimpse of the extraordinary scope of further education. In Nil by Mouth a group of young men became seriously engaged in discussion about sectarianism in Scotland. Mike’s workshop on Rock against Racism provided a thought provoking exploration of the grassroots rebellion against the fascism of Enoch Powell and – would you believe it – Eric Clapton who made his millions out of black music. (I did not know that Clapton still believes that Powell was a brave man speaking out against the danger of black supremacy. The one black student in the room said something like: “what planet is he on?”)

Back at my stall, I found a few people lining up to find out about the Opening Doors shadow scheme I am helping to organise with Mike and the rest of the Leith Open Space Group to enable minorities to become more involved in politics. A group of Chinese students had already picked up a load of postcards advertising the extraordinary intercultural extravaganza Dialogues of Wind and Bamboo in the Botanics in June. So I didn’t need the plastic merchandise after all – but I wouldn’t mind getting hold of a few of those magic markers.


The show is over but the message lingers on. Thanks to Tommy for the banner!

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