The Day Before

“No Deal” Zimbabwe

We start from Canterbury Cathedral. Present are my wife, Jane, my eldest daughter, Revd Clare Hayns (chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford), Alannah Jeune, a PhD student from New Zealand, and the Revd Jonathan Aitken and some of his family. Alannah is an accomplished trumpet player and gives a fine voluntary to see us on our way.  

Quick check list: toes trimmed, new(ish) hips in place, one half-new knee doing its job, a steroid injection to prevent pain in my antique-road-show back, creamed feet, and plenty of “Compeed” to avoid blisters. I have new sunglasses, assorted hats, Leki walking sticks – and the best boots ever invented, made by Meindl. This pair has lasted two ZANE walks already. Of course, they are manufactured in Germany – they’re so well made, I wonder how on earth Germany lost the war!

Great Aunt Daisy used to say, “I can’t afford to buy anything but the best”. Of course, she was right, for all my cheaper boots were more or less rubbish. As the great Bernard Levin used to say, “Write ‘there’s no such thing as a bargain’ on your mirror each day and remember it.” He would have got on well with Daisy.   

I discussed ZANE’s walks with Rory Stewart very recently when he was the Secretary of State for DFID (for about a month). He’s an excellent chap and has agreed to walk for ZANE when he is not plotting to bring down “No deal Brexit”. All I have to do is pop up to Penrith sometime. I told him I’m sure ZANE donors will understand my starting the ZANE walk from Canterbury to Oxford from Penrith – for it’s a small world these days, and what’s a few hundred miles among friends? All it takes is imagination!  

What’s It All About?

Why are we walking yet again? Well, talk about a cliff edge – because Zimbabwe has been thrown right off it.

Long-standing ZANE supporters will know that each year I claim that conditions in Zimbabwe couldn’t get any worse – and each year, they do get worse. We walk to remind everyone that Zimbabwe is in a terminal state caused by gross incompetence and corruption. Its government is run by about 3,000 rich people, who really couldn’t care if the rest of the people starve. For many years, the government has simply not paid its debts so it’s hardly surprising that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the EU and so on refuse to bail them out.

For so many of the poor, ZANE is their only hope of survival. The Mafia government has turned the bread basket of Africa into a racist beggar’s bowl. There is no healthcare and no NHS; and unemployment is at 95 per cent while inflation is at 500 per cent. The bulk of the young, strong and well-educated have fled to Australia and the UK, leaving the less able and old behind.

So we walk. Looking after the poor is what ZANE is about.

Please Understand…

… that many of my blog items are written late in the evening when I am tired. I am centre-right in my views and if you don’t agree with them, then that’s fine by me – but do go on reading! I try not to make party political points but sometimes I can’t resist the odd comment. But take note, I have been as critical of the Conservatives in recent years as of any other party! As Boris recently said, “What a mess!” Whatever you may think of him, that was an understatement.

Please also remember that the views contained in this commentary are mine, and mine alone. They don’t represent the views of any of those who work for ZANE or the trustees’ body. Can I also make the point that the printed version of this commentary is not an indulgence on my part, but generates far more revenue than the cost of printing and dispatch.   

And last but not least, if you have already sponsored us, thank you. If not, please do so!

1 comment

    • Nancy Benham on August 27, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    You are such an inspiration Tom and your family are so supportive. Your post-walk ramblings are also great to read and I wish you kind weather, soft under feet conditions and good health on this walk. And the money you raise for ZANE is literally a life line for so many. Blessings and more blessings on your endeavours. Nancy

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