background image


Unexpected Beauty
Thursday 27th February 2020 @ 3:01 pm

In every ‘Space to Breathe’ residential, something happens which I know, I’ll never forget. 

I didn’t expect this years to be before the program officially started.


It was an early morning. 

It was a pushed trip to the airport – Dublin rush hour, bane of my peaceful existence, was particularly unpredictable and frustrating. 

I arrived having dealt with several (handsfree) calls and messages already.  Some of which were telling me that Palestinian participants were not been let through Immigration. 

I was late. 

The plane had arrived. 

But the Palestinians have been kept behind immigration. 

Everything seemed a little restless and tense.


“Is this my fault? 

Do they have all the info they need? 

What did I not do? 

What will I do if they’re not allowed into the country?”


I talked to people and got a number for immigration.

I called.

No answer. 




I sat on the piano stool at T1 arrivals, perplexed at the unfolding unknowingness.  

I thought about playing the piano. 

I didn’t. 

I moved to the seat just beside the piano where I could see the arrivals gate, should anyone actually arrive. Thankfully, through Middle East via Europe I finally have a WhatsApp number for one of the travellers. Also, thankfully, I am told all but one are through. 


But the last one seems to be taking a while. 

The unknownness almost becomes dizzying. 


And then a flash of blue jacket speeds past me and onto the piano stool I have just vacated. The flash of blue begins to play the piano,  in the most calming, gentle, soul–searching and soul–present way. 

And I marvel. 


I had no idea Eddie Izzard played the piano. 


Present to the moment, enjoying himself, completely engaged, no fuss, no audience, no drama, no mistake. 

Just beauty.

Within thirty seconds of him beginning to play I have a message from the Palestinians to say they are ALL within the baggage area, ALL have picked up their bags, and ALL are walking through. 


Eddie stops playing I cannot resist. 

This boy is a legend.


I kneel beside him at the piano and tell him, 

“You have no idea what is going on this morning – I am at the start of a residential where a group of Palestinians Israelis, British and Irish students will be together for some conversations about how the world can be a better place. It was all going wrong and I was getting tense, frustrated, and it all seems like the worst possible start with one of the Palestinians stuck in immigration seemingly not going to be allowed through. And I turn round and my favourite comic is playing the piano, beautifully. 

And then I get a message telling me that all the Palestinians are about to walk through, having cleared immigration. Thank you. 

You’re my favourite comic. 

Thank you for this moment.” 


He smiles, offers me his (beautifully manicured) hand, and tells me it’s a pleasure.


Eddie is a legend proper legend. He made cry with laughter in the Ulster Hall in the mid 1990s. I have admired his courage, grace, intelligence, creativity, and attitude to life fever since. And there he was sitting beside me tinkling at the ivories, bringing exactly the sort of sacred moment my morning needed. 

Two years ago, I had contacted his ‘people’ to try to get him to The Good Summit  – but they had told me he had moved back to Australia … so the surprise seeing him back was probably part of the beauty of it all. I told him he would be hearing from me again. He told me he is here doing his marathon marathons thing. Well good luck to him. You can help him continue to raise millions for good causes by checking it out. (

He’s a machine. 

And a lovely man. 

And raises millions for charity. 


And apparently, calms me down with his piano playing, when I’m running peace exchanges and he’s running marathons. 


This was, without me knowing it, just what was needed this morning. 

An absolutely beautiful generous heart warming uplifting couple of minutes for which I will always be grateful, which as it turns out, has set me up perfectly for the deep human engagement about to take place. 


To leave a comment, click here