We meet in a nondescript coffee shop in a post-industrial town. It’s a greyish day and the little town holds memories of my youth, trapped in the sands of time. Teenage angst and social anxiety hang in the air like a cloud. The past clashes with the present. The world was simpler then, but I don’t yearn for it.
“[The volunteers] are people who have nothing else to do with their time and so instead disrupt public order, [and] provoke institutions. They are using people in distress and manipulating the migrants. It’s not about helping them.”
Natacha Bouchart, Calais Mayor
The sun has been back out this week, and with it a false sense of security and warmth. At lunchtime I play cricket in the sunshine with a couple of Afghan boys (and despite having not played cricket since school, and being pretty crap at it even then, I manage not to embarrass myself too much). In the afternoon, we wrap bruised hands from falling off of lorries or police violence. We get excited that the BBC now offers news in Tigrinya and Afaan Oromo. A boy uses my phone to watch videos on Youtube, singing along in Pashto, his hospital bracelet dangling on his wrist. In the evening, I meet A. who wants to improve his English, and asks us each day to bring reading material and books.