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Sunday, 23 December 2012

A Personal Review of 2012: Part I

January began with an assault on the surviving occupy camps around the UK, and it was inevitable that the London camp would end in a mess. Many made noble attempts to keep it going as a statement against some of the cruelest excesses of Capitalism - but it was not to be. Locally, we were battling to save some vital services for severely disabled people, but the cuts seemed relentless and were clearly hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.

The early part of 2012 saw some important work exposing the role of the US spy base at Menwith Hill - and my admiration for those at CND increases year on year. Dominic at the Yorkshire and Humberside office just impressed me over and over again - certainly in my book, he was one of the activists of the year.

March saw the airing of the Channel 4 documentary 'Make Bradford British', which many in the city had dreaded. (it did have a terrible name!) It turned out to be quite humane, and honest about the city. Many of us saw the programme in a positive light, and my blog title 'Make Britain Bradfordian' was even adopted by some of the participants.  Bradfordians could be proud of being flawed, but open to the possibilities of change and hope.

March also saw the opening of the new pool in the city centre - which was a triumphant act, and coincided with the opening of the much needed 'Home Made' art store and community centre.(which Cat and I helped paint!) Bradford felt like it was on the up. The city was also attracting international attention because George Galloway had chosen to stand for the Respect Party at the by-election caused by the previous incumbents alcohol related illness.

In early March, a few weeks before the election, a local Respect Party activist, suddenly died of a massive heart attack. Abu Bakr was young and well liked. I had known him through the Palestinian Solidarity campaign and he, his wife and their newly born child were regulars at Desmond Tutu House. I remember going to the wake at the local Mosque, to pay my respects to his family. George was there, and was clearly hurting. He had even considered cancelling the campaign. It was Abu Bakr's wife Kauser, who urged everyone to carry on - to make Galloways election a tribute to her husband. And so it was to be. I was at the Respect HQ with Sarah Cartin when the news of the huge victory became known. It was a momentous occasion, and my blog about the reason people abandoned the big three parties became the most read piece I had ever written, partly because the then Chair of Respect, the wonderful Salma Yaqoob kept retweeting my blogs on the subject.

The retweeting caused mayhem in April as Salma helped make my April fool blog, (suggesting Galloway was turning the much loved Odeon building into a 'Turkish bath and mosque') become the biggest scam I had ever orchestrated. I was on a high.

April was a great month. Our church organised a very special foot washing service in the new mirror pool for Maundy Thursday, and Bradford felt like it was sending me off with a terrific high.

Later in the month, I was to have an interview with Sunderland University for the post of Chaplain. When I went to have a wander around the city before the interview, something wonderful happened. I had never been to the place before, but something deep inside felt absolutely right. I finally felt that God was actively working alongside me on the next stage of the journey.

All would be well, I simply had to have a little trust and a little faith. Surely not too much to ask from a priest!

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