occupy london – what was it all about?

so occupy london has moved on. and people are asking what it was all about? me too.

well for me, it represented people with different (though related) agendas. it showed them coming together. it became a space where they spoke, put forth their ideas and shared them. above all it was a place WHERE PEOPLE LISTENED. there are many voices in society and not enough ears. we are all guilty of it, being so busy shouting our opinion we have no time to listen to anyone else’s.

if you visited, you would have seen people listening to each other; listening to opinions, hopes, wishes, concerns. and because they listened they were able to consider whether they agreed and their own opinions could be modified. nothing will start to change without people listening. because people listened in this space and respected views they may or may not share, the debate was able to move forward.

of course it didn’t answer questions or solve the problems of society. do its critics really think that could happen simply because some people went and camped outside a building? it never pretended it had the answer – unlike politicians and those omniscient voices from the right. but it did say ‘this is wrong and it must change’.

it posed questions. it showed anyone who was uneasy about the never-hope, never-believe, never-question death grip capitalism exerts on all of us and our desire for something more human, that we weren’t the only ones thinking like that. it was the putney debates of the 21st century. it may well achieve as much – and as little – as they did. like all umbrella organisations, it came, had its moment and then went. but it shoved a crowbar into the door marked ‘no entry’ and opened it a tiny crack to let us see just how blinding and beautiful the light can be on the other side. it begged us to open the door a bit further and see what happens.

where do we go from here? well, where do we want to go?

and to the everlasting fury of those who close their ears and will not hear of anything better or different; those whose own dreams have been denied so long they cannot bear to see anyone else dreaming; those who wish everyone else to fail the way they have, it was achieved without violence. how pissed off were they about that?


critical acclaim for this blog

regular readers (reader) ( err…. anyway) will be unsurprised to hear that there’s a place for us has been recognised internationally as a place of great writing. it seems a latvian by the name of neekid bouncygirls (apparently that’s much like john smith over there in the baltic)(not the beer, obviously, i don’t think they have that kind of thing) has been preeee-ty taken with my, admittedly, damn fine product. he was kind enough to comment as follows:

Hi there, just turned into alert to your blog thru Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate in case you proceed this in future. A lot of folks will likely be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

now it’s fair to assume english isn’t this chap’s first language, indeed on this evidence he may not be aware it is a language. but even with these shortcomings he knows quality when he sees it.

and a man who is ‘careful for brussels’ doesn’t just visit blogs at random to leave accolades like this; if he ‘turned into alert to [my] blog’, that must say something (though i’m not quite sure what). he also kindly left a link to his own fascinating website, from which i deduce he is a medical man, quite likely a proctologist. sadly i just don’t have the technical resources here at the blog to reproduce it, but it too ‘will likely be benefited’ … ‘a lot of folks’. i’m certainly not the only one with a ‘really informative’ blog. there are things over a neekid’s site that you definitely don’t see every day.

so cheers to you too and thanks a million for the visit, neekid; i will look you up next time i’m in riga and i can assure you that i, like you, ‘will appreciate  in case you proceed this in the future’. after all, prose like yours doesn’t just write itself!

ah! the old aspirin gag… (yawn)

some chap called foster friess, a backer of one of the republican presidential hopefuls (i forget which; they are after all, all totally the same) has rolled out the old chestnut about aspirin being a good contraceptive …  (get ready to spit your tea down your nose onto the keyboard in uncontrollable mirth) … when held between the woman’s knees.


okay. everyone back and concentrating? keyboards wiped down? ribs bound up with stout tape?

now my grandma would have had no time for such nonsense. living in ‘the north’ long, long ago when times were tough and they had to eat cardboard (probably), they couldn’t afford aspirin. she told me they developed an alternative method of contraception, which was to take a couple of half-bricks and bring them together smartly on the amorous gentleman’s nuts. she said it worked rather well. the sportier girls could even lob them from a distance, simultaneously getting some exercise and developing their aim. it was a hard world my grandma inhabited.

this may also have explained the rise in birth rate during the war. you couldn’t get the half-bricks.


with the benefit of time, i, of course, identified the flaw in this method. it has the age-old problem of laying sole responsibility for contraception at the woman’s door. or wall.


note 1: after the first paragraph, the rest of the post contains very few facts.

note 2: you’ll find a post noting this ‘joke’ and a number of other really really nasty things going on in the states at reclusive leftist. as usual violet socks hits the nail firmly in the knackers. she’d be a dab hand with a half brick too, i reckon.

it says here

thirty years too late they arrest the hate-pedlars of the sun. i need to lie down; my sides are hurting. but the reaction from one of the current liars in chief includes this gem of newspeak:

the “Sun has a proud history of delivering ground-breaking journalism”

they are presumably very proud that their lies were believed to such an extent that britain’s sheep bleated in thatcher and major time and again.

they are proud of the career break they have given to so many young ladies who would otherwise have been left shivering without their underwear.

they are proud of the jingoistic hate that made them complicit in the deaths of a thousand over a small series of rocks in the south atlantic.

they are proud to have exposed the ‘fact’ that dole-queue-scroungers live in luxury while unfortunate millionaire bankers starve.

they are proud of the racism oozing from their pages that allowed the death of one young man in south london to be acceptable to the police and the ruling elite for 18 years.

proud to have replaced thought with knee-jerkery; compassion with self-righteousness; logic with bigotry. proud to have done all this with no other thought than to keep their lizard-masters in perpetual power.

oh and money.

they will be especially proud that they never got caught – until now…

kinda ground-breaking if they all get jailed, i suppose.

in the time of strikes

i can’t condone this kind of behaviour.

a group of people holding the country to ransom for their own private gain; they don’t have a mandate – less than half the people who could have voted to show support for their actions did so. maybe we need to change the law to punish people who do this – it just can’t be right that schools, borders – all areas of public life are disrupted, that children are without education and people who rely on essential public services should suffer for no fault of their own.

that’s why tomorrow i will not be supporting the actions of the government.

yeah, of course you knew where i was going with it. if you want surprises, you could try sticking your fingers in the electrical socket.

the new levellers

much meejah air is being exhaled on those camping by st paul’s.

the mighty andrew ranwsley has written about them.

that tory mp who makes her living writing books that might one day aspire to a career as toilet paper tried (without much success) to get a laugh on ‘have i got news for you’ by rubbishing the protesters because some of them may have visited starbucks (says plenty about their taste in coffee but little about the validity of their agenda).

someone somewhere (yes, my usual level of detailed research has gone into this post) felt that as some of the campers may go home at night  (dognose if this is correct) they are hypocrites.

there is a degree of cynicism about all this.

i am reminded of greenham common, of molesworth and indeed of the chartists.

i have dropped in very briefly 3 times. if they are still there i will drop in again. on one occasion i was with the clp and the kids. every time the atmosphere struck me as friendly, thoughtful and unthreatening. as an unreformed old stalinist i like a situation that may turn nasty – i myself am cynical enough to believe that governments rarely start to listen until people turn nasty. but this wasn’t. this weekend people were doing shoutouts – brief spots at the central microphone giving their take on what the protest was all about, why they personally were there and what this moment in history might remedy about the sad, broken system that has impoverished us all even more morally than financially (and the financial bit has been bad enough). they weren’t ranting; the ones i heard spoke with composure and calm – goodness, they even made sense. they spoke with respect for the views of others there while accepting they may not agree with them. they seemed to be saying that this was just their way, it didn’t have to be that of the whole world, the whole camp, or even of a single camper other than themselves. this is perhaps unusual. the fact that people around actually listened and apparently thought about what was said was bloody unique. at a time when the level of debate in parliament has risen to the lofty heights of cameron calling milliband a complete mug, the sound of people listening to what someone else thinks and seeing how it works for them rang out like truth in a stock exchange.

as it stands, the camp has a lot of people debating, thinking and listening. of course it isn’t the answer to the crisis of capitalism, but nobody is sorting that lot any time soon. and the people who are at the heart of that crisis and profiting from it are the ones shouting loudest that it’s hopeless even to address the issue. funny that…

the chartists are often cited as an example of the inevitable failure of all rainbow alliances. but chartism’s legacy is best seen not in what they achieved directly but in what others achieved precisely because chartism had been there first. standing on the shoulders of giants – or even ordinary people; the little people – bless ’em. bless us.

it’s the new putney debates. just hope it doesn’t throw up a new cromwell.

this blog is wearing black tonight

four families are grieving tonight.

four brothers, sons, fathers, husbands will be carried out of their pit never to return.

four more men are taken by our hunger for coal to warm us and light our homes.

i’ve never lived in a pit community, but as part of a pit family the hairs rise on my neck every time i hear of pitmen trapped underground. every time i look to some higher power i’m not even sure is there to help the men in the dark between rock and water; to comfort the wives, the mothers, the friends and the children. to take the miners back home with their pit boots on their feet, not carried out by their mates under a blanket. ‘let them walk out’ i whisper to myself.

this time, for all the heroism and hopes of a whole community they didn’t walk out. the whispered prayers went unanswered as prayers often do. the rescuers left empty-handed with exhaustion their only reward.

four men.

four families.

tiny in global terms. a deep seam of grief in human terms. a reminder that the industry that saw men bound as slaves to their owners long after the british empire had abolished slavery, then paid in tokens that could only be spent in their owners’ shops, still demands its sacrifices. a reminder that the earth, vast and powerful, is murderous when it chooses, crushing us like poverty.

they say you can’t understand the feel of a pit tragedy until you have been part of that village waiting, clinging to the whispered hope for its men. i believe it. but i know that the memory from my grandfather and his father squats deep underground in me. it broods under my soft life, miles from home, from where home will always be, from where the broken bodies of generations of men lie underground, where the tears of their women fell. it’s a chain that binds durham to yorkshire to wales to waikato. it rings the world to anywhere men have wrestled with the earth to win a handful of black rock and a lungful of dust. to dig profit for men who never touched a pick or a geordie lamp, for women who never washed their crushed sons and husbands to give them back to the rock, to darkness one last time.

so that’s why the blog wears black. for those four men, their four families, their village and for every man lost to the pits, every child whose father was stolen by the merciless seam, every tear shed in every pit village anywhere in the world.

from me and my folk, sleep well bonny lads.