Having obtained early,medical retirement last winter(January 2012),the difference between the weekend and the weekdays,let alone a working week are much vaguer again for me these days.Nevertheless,its the weekend-and a lighter note,knowing that however busy i and others are,it at least feels that our choices are a bit more free than during our working schedules.i do of course recognise that many,perhaps a majority of the working masses don’t conform to that simple division of time,and that includes many of my friends and comrades.
i get up later most days than i used to when i was straightforwardly a wage slave.This is not laziness.I have i think reverted to what is hopefully a more natural rhythm for my own body-that i function better later in the day.The other main reason relates to why i got early retirement-that i am no longer as resilient as i used to be,and to my own frustration it takes its toll.
I say to people that when i feel very unwell i revert to being like a 5 year old dependent,perhaps miserable boy child,who needs his mother.Usually,inside my head I’m still that eager adolescent,of 17 years old,eager to be out there and active in the world,and who with the curiosity of that 17 year old,i don’t like missing anything.Physically i’m 59,and on a bad day it feels like 70,but i try,i hope without pretension to have a still youthful outlook on the world.
My physical and mental condition does mean that i have to take more care and time orienzing to the world when i get up.So Saturday,i make and early start for me.I can work on the computer/internet whilst i have a cup of coffee and take some of my medicines and orient on the world.
A message from my friend,comrade,companion that she is is leafletting at one of the local hospitals today.I smile.Its till not clear whether she will show up in Kilburn where i am headed but never mind.It will be good if we end up in the same place.If not i will miss her.I find other messages,about whether i have leaflets and suggesting a conversation with one of them.
i get the bus to Wembley and find my TUSC(Trades Union and Socialist Coalition)comrades,leafletting for our local meeting on Tuesday coming,and selling The Socialist,as they are both in the Socialist Party.I am not a member but its certainly not a problem for me,nor i believe,them.They are friends and comrades to me.It feels to me that we get along politically and personally well.We work together and we debate what we disagree about,which is surprisingly little.For me,the work drives us and in some ways is more important.These are not times for argument for its own sake,and certainly not simply to score points,or as far as i’m concerned to make ourselves feel superior.
So,i have a somewhat intense discussion with the comrade i know best,probably distracting him from his immediate tasks,but most of the conversation is of some importance and relates to our tasks in the next few days.
Realising i’m beginning to run late,i charge off to Kilburn Park on the train,and begin to write my journal entry on the way.as i get off the train,i hear my name called and see another comrade smiling at me,that she is off to an event to celebrate the Cuban Revolution,60 years ago soemwhere else in central London.As i surface i find 2 more comrades>one has brought the leaflets,the campaign banner and the rest of the impedimenta for what we are about to do in relation to the Counihan-Sanchez Housing Campaign.As we are joined by another comrade,one has to leave for more mundane business but i always take the view that we all do what we can and that no-one should guilt trip themselves or into each other into what we cannot manage.He is anyway,a highly committed friend and comrade who pours a lot of his talent into this campaign.Three of us set off to the South Kilburn Estate and its a chance to share news,catch up with one another and talk abot what we are about to do.I like their company anyway.Not long after arriving,our comrade who had left us a little while before gives us a call-to offer me his spare mobile,as mine has broken down.I am grateful and once again struck by his generosity anmongst his other qualities.Beset by difficulties,and with limited resources,he nevertheless gives freely.As always it is those with little,to give them alift in life who give most and most freely.this is a quality of the poor,the oppressed,the working class,that whilst we cannot assume nor take for granted is very much there and which is a further indicator of how little the ruling class know or understand of us and our class.We reach the estate,and after a little difficulty,we gain entry to one of the blocks/towers of apartments.This one has about 30 maisonette apartments.This is the bread and butter,nuts and bolts,basics of the campaign-knocking on doors and talking to people.We are here simply to find out what is troubling people and hopefully to find people not simply to jin tne campaign but to be our “eyes and ears”so that we can offer support and solidarity to our sisters and brothers.Mostly people are out,though i suspect some pretend to be or can’t be bothered to open the doors to us and at one level who can blame them.So at the very least,i make a note and we drop in 2 leaflets at each door-one about the campaign,and another about the public meeting to begin planning preparing an organised anti-cuts platform in next years locale elections.My spanish speaking comrade comes to my aid when i meet a man who speaks Arabic and Spanish but not english.Later she engages another man in along conversation-but then that is what we are here for.Lastly,we meet a woman who is helping a friend,from Spain with 2 small children who is homeless-deemed”intentionally homeless”by a neighboruing borough,eseentially because she left Spain,probably driven out by austerity and crisis there and probably looking for work here,which however bad it seems has not yet felt the full brunt of austerity unlike Spain.it is not that Britain is superior,but probably reflects that it is indeed the oldest capitalist economy in the world and at least appears to have had a more stable recent political history,so that our social infrastructure is more firmly established,more elaborated,and indeed more conservative in some respects.
I suspect that my comrades,like myself react inside our heads,knowing that we have come across another example of the banal cruelty of this system,this austerity,this crisis.We know we have to help and none of us hesitate.We talk to her about doing so and how.
We decide to move on.We take no pleasure in others distress but our conversation particularly with this woman is heartening and confirms our purpose.I suspect that it is in our natures somehow that we are at some level confirmed in our social identity by the way we relate to others difficulty-though we are not saints or saintly,just relatively ordinary people.It makes us and those we relate to an work with no less special or important.We walk back to Kilburn Park an 2 of us go for coffee at our favourite cafe on the High Road.We can’t leaflet because we simply don’t have enough leaflets left.On our way to the cafe we pass Nuala,sitting outside a very straneg but local landmark-a chapel/church,that she persuades us to take a look inside.Outside it is battleship grey corrugated iron,but very much a church.They need to raise £250,000 for it to be preserved by/as English Heritage.It is associated with some sort of sea cadet corp,but nevetherless it is a shock to find that it is like the deck of a warship and right in front of us is a bofors anti-aircraft gun where i would expect and altar table to be.Above it is a bridge like structure from which awould be captain would see and command everything.The denomination does not matter but like most churches-its structure reproduces the relationship of the state to the people with an internal hierarchy in which the place of priest and/or god dominates and commands us.Whilst i am a believer,i decsribe following a spiritual path rather than a religion because i specifically reject those relations.For me,perhaps it is more”god with us”rather than god or the state over us….
On our way to the cafe my comrade remarks that she will probably see me write something,probably quirky,i think she says on my postings about this incident-so here it si comrade!
We spend about and hour in the cafe talking about lots of things,mainly life,politics,people we know,though i don’t think either of us gossip.Then we need to move on,and go our separate ways until next time.We go home.The day is not over for me,but i will pick up the rest along with the new day later.