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.
I’ve been catching up with Mark Fisher’s latest collection and have been really struck by what he says about loss – or rather the loss of loss. I’m tempted to start banging on about Pogle’s Wood (a prime example of ‘fugitive evanescence’, in my life at least), but this sense of loss goes a lot further than TV programmes.
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.
I’m working on the layout of a new edition of Victor Serge’s Birth of Our Power, so I’ve just been reminded of how Serge opens his autobiography. I remember reading it about 30 years ago and those lines really struck a chord. There’s something in that notion of “an impossible escape”. Our idea of what’s possible at any moment is shaped by our immediate conditions: most of the time it feels like tomorrow is going to be exactly the same as today. But every now and then something happens and you find yourself popping your head out and seeing an entirely different terrain.
A friend posted this to Facebook the other day and I thought it deserved a place of its own on this blog which is turning into a cardboard box stuffed full of dusty clippings, junk and random snippets…
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.