Our Turkish friend standing on the wall of Babak Fort.

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"We only have chicken kebab", informed the waiter as we sat at an uncleared table of a rapidly emptying restaurant part way up a mountain. Whether this news meant that our previous alternative of eggs was no longer coming we were yet to find out, but things were looking up as when we entered they had nothing to offer at all. Between this Mad Hatter lunch ordeal our traveling team was united with its needy pillar as our previously unseen guest had finally found us. We were to play host to a Turkish tourist during our three day excursion to Iran's Turk (known as 'Azeri' to the locals - as in, relating to Iran/Azerbaijan) regions – making the most of yet another Islamic holiday.

Our rendezvous arrangements proved as backward as our lunch arrangements as we missed our new friend in the main city of Tabriz and had to guide him to an early stage of our trek. His arrival couldn't have come sooner, he became the key needed to unlock to mystery of the local behavior. As he arrived our soup arrived, one single large bowl of it - at the beginning we wanted soup, then they didn't have any, then they didn't have anything - now we had soup, no eggs and everything we'd initially ordered, including the previous customer's food that still hadn't been cleared.

It should be noted that the Turks are to the Iranians what the Irish are to the English and as we settled up and headed off the many Iranian jokes about the Turks started to gain credibility.

We were like some comedy outfit, one deaf and one blind, getting results in a slap-stick style

In theory our newly found friend was to be guided by us Iranian folk as he upturned the stones of Iranian culture, yet things went much the other way round. The regional language is Turk, of which 30% of Iran speak (including my family), not the Farsi that we city kids speak. Of course, our new friend can't speak Farsi but his mother tongue is Turkish, which is maybe over 90% the same as Turk, forgiving the kooky accent. Thankfully however we all spoke English and for a rare occasion I was the good all-rounder, knowing a shameful amount of each. Between us we made a triangle of entertainment for the locals, discussing in Farsi, conveying in English and presenting in Turk - only to then do it in reverse. We were like some comedy outfit, one deaf and one blind, getting results in a slap-stick style.

"Don't be tired", "don't be tired!", and then another group of trekkers passed, "don't be tired", I politely state again. This aroused outbursts of laughter from our new friend with each kooky Turk tone that came from me. I was sincere, it's what we do when hiking, maybe it was the fact that I had no idea what was being said back at me. During this hefty hike we all became acquainted as we guessed our way through the cool cloud covered mountain. Our new friend is blessed with warmth and honesty that allows for his charismatic and sometimes over-familiarity to escape evasion. Most of the trek he would be in some way attached to us, or even passers by - he was as comfortable with English as he was with his hands when talking.

Our trek was to take us to a place called Babak Fort, a historical location known for a time the locals fended off the Arabs. The site was hidden by winding paths, steep climbs and also low cloud during our assent - thankfully the cool moist air took the strain out of the climb, gathering in our hair like dew on a spiders web. We deceptively arrived on several occasions of which I'm sure was the intentional design, yet upon our eventually arrival there was little to see. I mean, literally there was little to see, 5-metres ahead was what was available to our eyes and that which could be seen was restoration work.

Groups of trekkers joined us in this short lived relief, snacks and drinks were had as at least three mobiles squealed out traditional songs. A group of odd haircuts and clothes played the worst of it, between their chats and sing-alongs they cleared the plastic remains from previous visitors. "Is that Mostafazedeh...?", asked our musical buff in Farsi, "Talk Turk!", replied the haircut in Turk before they reached a chorus in unison. In response to this hostility our new Turkish friend's hands came out the pocket again and connections were made - it appeared that we'd stumbled upon the Azeri separatist. There was a long trade of words between the Turk and Turkish neighbours, a lot of touchy feely yet understanding seemed to be met. "What was that all about?", I asked as the deaf man to the blind. "I'll tell you later", he responded as I led us back down the mountain.

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Not protesting, not a chance.

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"Excuse me, what were you protesting for?", approached a summer frocked lady from behind her sun glasses. "Nothing" – I was a little less detailed in my reply than my fellow law abiding citizen who had seemingly rehearsed for this delayed public response. "We were not protesting, to do that would be illegal", he gently informed her in his warm and unabashed northern manner, "it is illegal to protest within 1km of Parliament without prior police permission". "So what is written on your placards?", she asked with her hands, leaning in and reaching for the sheets of cards resting by our sides, "nothing!", came our choral response. Somewhat perplexed, or even disappointed, she moved on half informing us, "I'm going to that Brian guy, he's been arrested!".

In fear of losing balance between words and actions I found myself on the Strand, London debating what kind of investment I would make into A1 white card to both use and not used for around one hour. We wanted something sturdy, of which foam-board did the trick, but wow is that stuff expensive, "Is it cheeky if we bring them back after for a refund", I asked semi-seriously. The less offensively priced heavy-weight paper however didn't seem like too much of a compromise considering it would still make us only half equipped. With ten minutes to go we were finally armed, we'd settled on a combination of foam-board with heavy weight card, catering for only one extra person yet with the option of halving the papers if we hit critical mass.

Big Ben brought its hands up to two O'Clock as we rested ours down at half-six following our one hour battle with gravity. Like Moses this battle with gravity came with the help of my family whereby my sister brought our numbers up to three, not including the friends' reunion – two additional friends who were not, not protesting beside us on the grass. Like the protest, the response wasn't, we'd gotten a thumbs up and wink from the Brian camp, saw some police officers altering the height of the seats on their bikes yet generally we were something for lunchers to direct their eyes at during a break. "This is not something to be disheartened about", I repeated to my fellow law abiding citizen, thinking back to one of the first comments I'd left on his blog about avoiding tactical voting, "low numbers should not be a reason to not do something".

It's a technicality, he isn't starting a protest, he'd started years ago and hasn't stopped

Brian may have been arrested in the past, but for his personal battle (concerning a great many things wrong in a decreasingly great Britain) he will not be arrested for the laws concerning Parliament's no-protest zone. It's a technicality, he isn't starting a protest, he'd started years ago and hasn't stopped. Brian's a kooky chap, his face has been in the kiln too long which has also resulted in the heavily badged soldier's helmet being glazed to his head. He looks like a guy you avoid in train stations and lives like him too but I prefer to consider him a landmark, one casting a shadow over Parliament or even Big Ben.

"Shall we get him to sign them or write something on them", I embarrassingly voiced out as we waited to speak with Brian, I thought it'd a poignant use of the blank white sheets yet worried it might offend the man. Brian made his way round the usual topics to a small and partly participatory crowd: depleted uranium, starving children, civilian deaths and a lot of Blair. I glanced around his growing territory, a titillating mix of images and slogans, all of which careful to not infringe council by-laws. Four camo-green tents had been added since my last visit and were leaving squared patches of malnourished grass in their rotation.

"Gordon's gay and he should admit it to the people, more lies from New Labour", parped a tubby chap with Brian non-plussed. "...murdering the children, those poor innocent children - those are our children...", Brian looped, "...that fucking Blair...", he continued as the tall gentleman to my side paused from his ice cream and politely asked that he didn't use that language in front of his children, referring to the young boy and girl weaving between our legs. "I will use language like that...", Brian firmly retorted leading the tall guy to almost square-up to Brian, "listen, we're all doing our bit", he begun. Again Brian retorted, "but we're not doing our bit our we...", to which the tall guy enlightened us of his charity work in setting schools up in India. A stalemate was met in an unnecessary stand-off, Brian was brash – I wouldn't be so bold – but I feel he can afford to be.

I toiled over that heated moment, over those who are, "doing their bit", and Brian sets an admirable standard in method. I came as a tourist – meeting words and actions (not to mention friends) in the presence of Brian made me feel more so, but I came to do something and like my voting green, I don't believe it was a waste.

An Email sent out prior to the day:

> Forgive the generic,
> I'm linked to some group regarding citizen's rights and
> got this email (below). I've seen one of these before on
> some website, people standing in silence holding blank
> placard, it's weird. As I'll be in the neighborhood I
> thought I'd check it out, anyone else fancy some
> pre-Sunday lunch dissent?
> For some background, read:
> Blair laid bare: the article that may get you arrested
> Britain's liberties: The great debate
> Look forward to seeing you all.
> ddmmyyyy
> ----- Original Message Follows -----
> From: Andrew Nominus
> To: ddmmyyyy[at]yahoo.co.uk
> Subject: Not a protest, not a chance
> Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 08:54:10 +0000 (GMT)
> >The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005) makes unauthorized protests illegal within 1km of Parliament Square.
> >Do not protest.
> >Do not protest in Parliament Square on 1pm Sunday 20th May.
> >Do not carry a blank, white placard with nothing on it.
> >Remain silent.
> >
> >Pass it on.

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My brother's final collection show at the RCA.

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"Hey, Superman?" inquired the boy standing in my path down London's notorious Brick Lane. He aimed me up and repeated himself, "...how's it going Superman?". Out of flattery and sarcasm I chose the latter, guessing this was some kind of taunt. We scuffed passed one another with me choosing to ignore things either way. Again he mistakenly addressed me causing me to get a second opinion from friends and family with me. "What?" I abruptly responded while turning on the spot, "you looking for a place to eat?". I hate those street ushers, "no, we've just eaten".

"You see Dave, it's awkward, I've been squatting for the last year or so since coming to London", my friend explained after I inquired as to why he was so coy around my family moments before. "I tried breaking a new one the other day but had problems, I've been staying with friend since the police found out the last one". And with this began my lesson on how to start a squat, Squatter's Rights and planning permission problems for landlords.

"Hold up boys", I heard over my left shoulder as we passed a group of part BMXed first generation Asian locals. I was walking with my friend towering over me, he was part leant on my shoulder and swinging his leg with every step (no doubt this was easier than tying the lace). "The law says you can't break and enter a place, but if a place is open and empty you can stay there providing you do a few things...". He stopped, he then flinched, as I looked to see why I felt something hit my right shoulder. For the second time I turned on the the spot, "what?".

"yeah what you doing like being gay and stuff"

"What you doing? What you being gay for like?", said one of the eight or so youths consciously limping along with chips in hand. "What's you problem?" I inquired in rage as my friend encouraged me to leave it. "We don't like that shit round here", said another, "yeah what you doing like being gay and stuff", added another. I made towards them slightly, "what are you going on about?".

It was all so bizarre, I was walking through one of London's more diverse regions, among a predominantly mixed immigrant community and being enlightened on conduct in my home nation by first generation school boys. Interestingly the Brick Lane area is home to many Muslims and having arrived from the Islamic Republic of Iran I found it especially bizarre that there was less tolerance in how men walk together in London, I mean, the Muslim men in Iran walk together with linked fingers.

"What you fucking doing like, walking like with your arm round each other and shit?", said another. "It's none of your business how I am with my friends...", I shouted back as they walked away seemingly surprised at my challenge. My friend tried to place this moment, nearly going as far as excusing their behavior. We caught them up at the end of the road where they'd gone their separate ways. Two of the boys stood in our path and things evened out.

"Mate, mate, you know like, my friend yeah, you know, he gets like that and shit", the local conduct was subject to negotiation it appeared. "You know what I mean mate, you just shouldn't be doing that shit around here, you know like arm around each other and shit", this boy was alone, his friend had his lips sealed. I heatedly had my two bob's worth which went some way in diffusing my anger and left having the one with the mouth offering matesy hand shakes before leaving this super hero and his floppy sidekick alone.

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Traditional sweet shop from the town my mother lives in.

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"Hello... yes...", my periphery hearing locked in, I knew this tone, I knew that yes, "HANG UP!", I shouted. Another yes came, "MOTHER, HANG UP!". "No, I don't have gas...", she answered confirming my suspicion. "YOU DON"T NEED IT!", I persisted as the door shut on me. Twenty minutes later the door opened, "you don't know what that was", she almost smugly stated aware of what was coming from me, "I know you don't need it", I replied...

My mother might consider herself lucky: prize draws inform her that she has been shortlisted for a possible £10 - £15,000; traveling traders that come to town, hire function rooms to exchange hundreds of pounds of my mother's limited cash for a black bin liner of unknown and already owned electronic goods. "I can't believe my luck", she'll probably one day write after adding her bank details in response to the email informing her that she's won a lottery she never played.

"well if you're dead how on Earth will you be able to press the button!"

"So you've just provisionally agreed on... what would it be? ...over £340 something over a two year period!", I shrieked. "Well what if I'm lying dead!", came the first of her justifications, "well if you're dead how on Earth will you be able to press the button!". "They call people!", "who?", "you know, people nearby", "and what if you're not carrying this alarm thing?", I hated doing this but I hated seeing my mum being taken for a mug once again. The burglary scenario didn't stand the logic test either as I pained to hear the poor repetition of the sales staff's pitch.

"Ok, ok, I can cancel it tomorrow", came the voice of defeat. "Mum, it isn't about me being wrong or right... you know...", I calmed myself, "if you haven't already got it, you may not need it". I then followed by asking her to join me in writing a list of everything she might need, this may have appeared a little condescending but I wanted to illustrate my point, and politely let her know that she just isn't that lucky.

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Catching up on the UK news after arriving.

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"That's a horrible thing to say!" my mother snapped while we sipped our tea with milk. The horror had gotten worse, a cricket team showed solidarity by wearing yellow ribbons on their sleeves as the dedicated tail-end of the news detailed the Find Maddy Campaign. Suggestions that the police were frustrated were quashed and progress was shown in the seizing of computer equipment owned by some fresh faced lad in Portugal. Correspondents were there, on location, with speculations, without information, with concern and without anything to learn. "Do you see what they've done there?" I sarcastically pointed out as it was back over to the UK where we were reminded of the solidarity – the ad-hoc campaign press office had headlined posters with 'Look', but the first 'o' shared the blemish of Maddy's right eye. "You're sick you are" gasped my mother.

"What about the 20 woman and children that have probably arrived in Dover this morning?", I retorted, "destined for sexual slavery". It wasn't a cultural lag, where only that morning my tea was sipped without milk in a wholly different nation – one I dare not draw comparisons with. How Iran affords me with a rotten perspective. "This isn't news mum", I pointed out while extracting the thickly layered emotive content from the thinly sprinkled journalism.

The growing album of amateur snaps that hang on the nation's conscience was opening a new page

The media parade increasingly ready to fill the minds of the masses with displays likes these – these yanks on our heart strings – troubles me for the precedence it sets. The growing album of amateur snaps that hang on the nation's conscience was opening a new page, I hope the sticky cellophane won't seal her fate – I genuinely do. Yet my mind found a new level of cynicism as I pondered what the nation's response would be if this young blond beautiful girl wasn't – is that a horrible things to say?

Madeleine's fund as of 01/06/07 totals £581,813.01
Visits to www.findmadeleine.com total 142 million impressions

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