As well as playing keyboards with Portishead, Jason writes books and recently went out to Calais, read below……
This week, I spent a paltry 48 hours in Calais, doing anything I could to join the effort to help the thousands of refugees stuck there.
It wasn’t enough.
L’Auberge des Migrants, the huge warehouse and volunteer community that feeds 2,000 people a day thanks to donations, was one of the two places I visited. To do so is the most colossally humbling experience. People with skills I can only gawp at — building, cooking, sewing — doing everything they can. With not enough.
The Jungle, a place on the constant choke chain of the authorities, surviving nonetheless. Cafés, shops, places of worship, a school, libraries, barbers, a bike repair place. Children have been born there. People wearing shoes and clothes they were gifted — some of whom are doctors or lawyers; the kind of professional you’d ordinarily rope in to sign your passport form — and yet a guy from Sudan pleaded with us for the one thing he’d like more than anything in the world: a chair. A CHAIR. He may not have sat in a chair for six months, for all I know. We didn’t have a chair. Not enough.
What a waste of human resources. Doctors, anyone? Someone who speaks English, Arabic, Russian and French, yet lives in second-hand shoes, anyone?
What an obscene cartoon of human rights. One of the new rules is NO WOOD ALLOWED. So homes are routinely built from branches and ground sheet and anything lying around. Including spent tear gas canisters. The indignity is fucking staggering.
And yet, what a jawdropping effort is underway there. I met so many people whose simple act of helping made me feel about as useless as I’ve ever felt — David, Lesley, Tom, Hayley, Tina, Ollie, Katerina, Anna — their constant efforts are fucking incredible. They won’t agree; modesty will win. But they are.
Nothing we can do is enough.
The south half of The Jungle has been demolished, apart from the school and the church. The north half survives. But these people need money and NOW. It means survival to them. It means food and shelter. 30 more people turn up every day. The kid who hung around our van for an hour on Tuesday eventually got a Lego set because it needed offing. To him, living somewhere with next to fuck all infrastructure and fly-squatted dead rats baking in the sun, that was a dream. And it’s not enough.
Give some money. You can. You can give something every month. Doesn’t need to be much. Even if you give all you can afford, it’s not enough. So give something. Please.
May 25th Brighton UK – Bleach
May 27th Antwerp Belgium – Trix Club
May 29th Paris, France – Villette Sonique
June 2nd Barcelona, Spain – Primavera
June 8th Ravenna, Italy – Beaches Brew
June 10th Porto, Portugal – Primavera
June 17th Lucerne, Switzerland – B-Sides Festival
June 19th Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands – Best Kept Secret
June 25th Glastonbury, UK
Aug 20th Green Man Festival, UK
Portishead have announced that they will play a headline show at Cardiff University this Thursday 16 July which will serve as a warm up show to their headline slot at Latitude Festival on Saturday 18 July.
Tickets will be available to buy from 9am on Tuesday 14 July from the below links:
Cardiff University – http://www.cardiffstudents.com/boxoffice/
Bristol Ticket Shop – Physical tickets can be purchased inside the shop at 41 High Street, Bristol BS1 2AT