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2007-12-10 a message from James

Hi everyone,

Thanks to so many of you for such a positive reaction once again to my Kenyan trips - thank you all for your support.

Everyone in the Gulf States always treats us SO well. We had a lovely time. But it would be nice to have some time off there again. One VERY generous lady who was one of the organisers at one of the venues kindly gave me a substantial donation for the children of Cheryl's to have a Happy Christmas...so it was a real pleasure to be able to wire that off today. It means that they can have something other than their staple (and healthy) diet of rice, beans and vegetables. Perhaps even turkey, or chicken at least!

Some asked about the audiences in the Gulf States. In Abu Dhabi and Bahrain the audiences are primarily ex-Pats, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, some Americans and some others too... In Oman some locals DO come and it is at times surreal to see gentlemen dressed in dish-dashas, AND sometimes their wives with them, clapping along to Irish pub songs! But no segregation of women and men. However.... in Abu Dhabi airport Donna was made go in a separate entrance to us!! (Quite right too! Just joking, ok??). There are a lot of Indian staff in the Gulf States, a huge amount, and there are direct flights to India from all of the Gulf cities. Sometimes you hear horrid stories of real exploitation of these Indian workers. We have not witnessed it. But it does happen sadly.

And what are we doing for Christmas? I am sure Matthew is with his little family...but perhaps he will write to you soon... And Daryl will most likely be with his family in Omagh. I go to Sligo on the 21st to rehearse with my friend Siobhan, as we are singing in St Johns Nursing Home for the old folk again, on the 22nd. We often do that at Christmas, just not last year. We sing in the Chapel of the Home, and they seem to really appreciate it. As well as people sitting in the pews, there are dozens of wheelchairs, and even about a dozen beds too wheeled into the Chapel. It is actually very moving indeed, sometimes too much. My Dad always comes along too. Then I will be with my sister and her husband and family for Christmas itself. And Mullaghmore on Stephens Day! So now you know it all!!!

Love and a squoosh to each and every one of you, James