Tbilisi redux

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Thinking again of T+35, and that video nasty, I recalled my only trip to Tbilisi.  I went for a week in 1998 as part of the evaluation of WWF's global environmental education programme which John Fien directed.

Indelible memories still jostle about: a chained bear outside a cafe on the Silk Road, staying in the house of Stalin's favourite film director that was still stuffed with photographs, memorabilia  and antiques, the Ministry of the Environment's execreble toilets, being in fear of my life on a high-speed road littered with crashed cars,  a village feast high in the Small Caucasus mountains where only our driver wasn't drinking to excess as the silver-cased ram's horn circulated, the most fabulous vegetables and best bread ever, meeting a miller outside his mill who asked why the new national park had no room for his two cows (no answer), spa water that made Bath's seems perfumed, primary school teachers trained at Jordanhill in Glasgow at WWF's considerable expense, but to no great effect, the preposterous Andropov's Ears sculpture in Tbilisi, a breathless programme of visits and interviews – in Georgian – and the chance to see much environmental education in challenging circumstances.  It all was wonderful, made possible by the splendid Luc Delars from WWF International, and by the Head of the Georgia WWF programme.

Wonderful, but utterly exhausting.  I remember sitting in Tbilisi airport's departure lounge in a dazed state clutching my lengthy field notes, and that most wonderful of things: a BA boarding pass that said London.

I'd not have missed it for anything.

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