THE OTHER SIDE - REFLECTIONS FROM FOLKESTONE & CALAIS

‘We start in Folkestone. The sky is radiant blue with a fuzz of humidity blurring the horizon, and the seawater is clear, barely moving. At the camp we work in the NGO room because it’s cooler than outside. On the table go the map, the typewriters, books, a box of optical illusions. We have mirrors on sticks, mirrored boxes, magnifiers, kaleidoscopes. We bend light, playing across the table.


In the afternoon, we head to France. By now, the coast is visible over the Channel. We are going under the sea, though, not over. In Calais we drive off the train and into sparkling light.

The next morning we visit the places where the Jungle camp used to be. It has been all but erased from history, with only graffiti remaining among the factories, hulking concrete bunkers and miles of scrubland, sand dunes and flowers. This is where people used to live, in tents and makeshift shelters, now fenced off with UK Government money.

From here, the sea looks forbidding, it is like looking through a dark mirror. The view I have been looking at for much of my life from Folkestone, my ‘over there’, is now where I am standing, and everything I love is over there, across a distance which feels real, not imagined, because I have just travelled it.


We go straight from the sea to the day centre. At The Community Table people play chess, alongside an English lesson and inbetween people using the spirographs. Someone presses the typewriter keys so hard he embosses the other side of the paper.

The sky in France is azure blue. We slip under the waters, with no inclement weather, no dangerous crossing, no unsteady status to inconvenience us. We go back in time, one hour precisely.’


Josie Carter 14.07.22 with Bobby Lloyd and Miriam Usiskin




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