I’m at a bike shop in central London. I’m being fitted for a new frame. I’ve had some serious problems with my back and my best bike, its pro geometry never really suitable for me even when I did race, is now definitely inappropriate. Julian, who’s sorting me out, asks me about racing and I mention my club Ferryhill Wheelers. Ah, he’s seen that name when he’s looked at results for over-50s races. I do a double-take and look at Julian more closely. This guy’s in his fifties? I would’ve put him at around my age. Turns out he’s 56. Must be something keeping him looking young. Perhaps it’s cycling. Or maybe love of life. He’s just returned from a holiday celebrating his first wedding anniversary. Congratulations. He tells me that he and his partner, now wife, have been together for decades, they’ve got a couple of teenage kids, but last year decideded to get married. That’s interesting, I think, getting married only once your kids have almost left home isn’t normal. I’m drawn to him.
There’s a great interview here with Mark Stewart of early post-punks the Pop Group — by Diane Kamikaze on wfmu.
Can’t capture it all here, but the conversation ranges seamlessly across music, politics, culture, innovation, DIY, group dynamics, magic, ethics and the repetition of history. He even mentions zombies. As punk as fuck.
“Why aren’t the British middle classes staging a revolution?”, asks Telegraph columnist Alex Pound.
Why aren’t the middle classes revolting? Words you probably never thought you’d read in the Telegraph. Words which, as a Gladstonian Liberal, I never thought I’d write. But seriously, why aren’t we seeing scenes reminiscent of Paris in 1968? Moscow in 1917? Boston in 1773?
For me, one of the best things about last weekend’s FAST FORWARD festival was seeing two comrades I organised with in the early- to mid-1990s. We’ve been involved in different political projects over the intervening two decades, we live in different cities, different countries even. But every year or so I encounter one or the other of them. At some demonstration or protest. At a conference. Maybe a social event where there’s a bunch of politicos. I like the fact that we share political histories stretching back a quarter-century. I like it that I know these people who keep turning up, on the streets (or in the fields — I’m thinking of the summit protests of the counter-globalisation movement and climate camps), in our political meeting spaces, like bad pennies. Enoch Root types. The radical. Enoch the Red. It’s definitely to the credit of Plan C, FAST FORWARD and its organisers, that these bad pennies were attracted to the festival.
Like much of the planet’s population (if the media is to be believed) I have done a certain about of reflecting and even mourning over the past week or so. Of course I am glad that Nelson Mandela did not die in prison. But at the same time I cannot help feeling a certain nostalgia for that time when he was incarcerated on Robben Island — at least for that part of my life, the 1980s, when I’d become aware of him, his plight and the broader struggle he was part of.
The concepts and words used typically to describe and understand our realities are inadequate to the task of interpreting, and accompanying, those societies in movement.
It is as if the capacity to name has been trapped in a period transcended by the active life of our peoples. Many of the assumption and analyses that shaped us during the struggles of the sixties and seventies have become, to borrow a phrase from Bruadel, “long-term prisons”. Quite often, they stifle creative capacity and condemn us to reproduce what already known and has failed.
Mark Fisher makes some really important points in this interesting blog post, The Happiness of Margaret Thatcher. The stuff about ‘outrage’ – and the important role papers like the Daily Mail play in creating it – seems particularly relevant. As he says, ‘Outrage is not merely impotent, it is actively counterproductive, feeding the very enemy we claim to want to defeat.’ It engenders weariness (‘we wake up in the morning … [and ask] what are we supposed to be outraged about today?’) – and I’d say this is part of a more general class war weariness.
The book is now available for free download: here. And last night Chickpea presented the Circled A radio show on Resonance 104.4fm; the show featured exerts from an interview with Brian and Keir of The Free Association and from the audio book. You can download the half-hour show here: MP3 link; OGG link.
The clock, not the steam engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age. (Lewis Mumford)
During the Paris Commune, in all corners of the city … there were people shooting at the clocks … (Walter Benjamin)
Besides the ‘quiet crisis’, the other term Ed Miliband seems to be using quite a lot at the moment is ‘moral economy’. Though it seems it was his brother David who used it first, in a speech at the LSE in March and in a speech he would have given this time last year had he won the Labour leadership: