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From the edge
Asylum speakers news, a radio sketch show in progress

May 10, 2005

Part 2 Part 1 Part 3
And now the news.

ANCHOR: An Iranian asylum seeker has been arrested in Newton Stewart, south-west Scotland, after he was spotted swimming in the River Cree dressed as a salmon.

Dumfries and Galloway police have confirmed that forty-three year-old Ali Mahizadeh, was reeled in this morning by fisherman who said they were shocked when he “unzipped his costume and asked for food flakes”.

Mr Mahizadeh has been refused legal aid on grounds that he is a fish.

He is being detained in an aquarium.

A Home Office spokesman said there may be more asylum seekers in British waters.


PRESENTER: And now, Ali Farmani, an asylum-seeker in Finsbury Park in London sends us one of his Post-its From the Edge.

FARMANI: Ten a.m. Today I will look for a cash-in-hand job. But with The Albion B&B as my address my chances are slim. I share a room with Miroslav, a Muslim from Eastern Europe who recites verse from the Koran every afternoon and dialogue from an Albanian soap opera in his sleep.

Yesterday he spent several hours with his face in his pillow after learning that his pet goat Abel had died. It was the first time a human suffocated a pillow.

Miroslav is a slim, good-looking blond chap with designer stubble. He is a little glum, but he does spend hours of his youth stuck in a room with a 53-year-old who snores.


Two pm. I go to Best Bagel Bakery and ask for a job. They say ‘Have you got experience?’ I say ‘For £2.50 an hour! You wouldn’t ask a slave “Have you experience of chain and balls?” I’ve eaten bagels -- is that not enough?’ They show me the door. Perhaps I should be more humble next time. What the hell, they probably pay with those old coins with a hole in them.
Bagel money.


Three pm. I bump into Miroslav outside McDonalds on a bench munching a Big Mac. He says ‘I know a man who can make your large meal extra large without extra cost‘. It’s good to have connections, I say.

I am reading a book, I tell him, which says burgers are likely to contain body parts of low-paid workers. They fall into vats and their arms are torn off. ‘I know the book,’ he says. ‘But that’s America. The UK has better labour laws. And fewer Mexicans.’

We get talking, he’s still hung up about his goat. Apparently an uncle of his left it to him in his will. His brother got the camcorder.


Four p.m. Miroslav and I go window shopping in the job centre -- what can you do with no work permit?

“Forklift truck driver with experience, trainee cleaner, inserter of jam into doughnuts, warehouse assistant -- enthusiasm a must.”

We are spoilt for choice.


How could you express your enthusiasm for working in a warehouse? “I come from a family of crate-lifters. My father was crate-lifting champion of Azerbaijan. I like to break my back.”

Miroslav says when we can finally work his friend can get me a job in McDonald’s. I’ll remember to wear a suit for the interview. Why don’t you go for the job, I say. It’ll take your mind off the goat. He looks at me angrily and leaves.


Four-thirty p.m. It turns out the goat was a decoy for worse news. Apparently Miroslav’s great aunt has testicular cancer. An incorrect translation, I hope.

Five p.m. Back in the room I try to cheer Miroslav up by reminding him he is twenty years younger than me and has a great future. But I am not sure he appreciated me as a gauge for his achievements. After all, the boy has dreams. Maybe one day he’ll make it to Hollywood. They are always looking to fill those crowd scenes.

I suggest this to him. He punches my nose.
Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

For letters section
To Peyvand Khorsandi

Peyvand Khorsandi



Book of the day

My Uncle, Napoleon
A Comic Novel
by Iraj Pezeshkad
translated by Dick Davis
>>> Excerpt

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