Hampstead Heath is my most favourite place on the planet and one of the reasons that I have ended up staying in London for so long. For the simple fact that it’s not like living in London. Busy, vibrant and a wildlife haven fit for it’s own BBC special. There is so many special spots on the heath, the hollow tree, the red brick bridge, the ponds and the fallen trees left from recent storms. I could go on for ever and an ever changing depending on the season.
This afternoon a friend called and we arranged to go for a walk on the heath and before we new it my partner, my friend, my housemate, my son and myself were going to catch some spring rays and take the dog for a walk. For those that know me know that I am into craftism and arty things and over the last few weeks I have been buying up wool from car boot sales and charity shops. Just before we set off I announced that we were going to do some yarn bombing. I could see the looks of what is she on about flash across their faces. We traipsed across the Heath an arrived a my favourite fallen tree, It is massive and over the years I have watched it change shape and slowly get lower to the ground.
Here, this is where I wanted to so do some Yarn bombing. I explained what I wanted to do and that the aim was to make this tree a feature and give the passing traffic something to talk about and inspire, throw some different colours into an already beautiful tree. So we set to work…….
We chatted about how rhythmic it was and how we found it really relaxing. The conversations were an ebb and flow of seriousness to a comfortable silence. People came up and made conversation about what we were up to and how they liked it, children came up with their parents and more interaction took place. This was turning out to be an experience on lots of levels and all good. All in all we spent a couple of hours yarn bombing my favourite tree. Even though I say it myself I think it looked great, but I would wouldn’t I.
OMG I went to a football match today and I fucking loved it.
Over the last few weeks events at Clapton FC have been the talk of most antifascists groups in London. It started when the Clapton FC chief executive Vincent Mcbean released a statement on their Website entitled “Antifa Statement” on the 20th March 2014. (http://claptonfc.com/word-from-the-spotted-dog-20/) It somehow implies that the supporters of Clapton are doing something wrong by being left wing and antifascist and subsequently the far right had decided to take offence to whatever they were doing. After threats made by the Far right towards the club and the antifa statement in response a lot of the supporters took umbridge to this and letters where sent to the Chief Executive (http://www.blowe.org.uk/2014/03/proudly-anti-fascist-open-letter-to.html) The statement may have been a commercial one or a diversionary one but it created a bit of a storm. With the threat of attacks on the club a call out was made to show some support and that is how I ended up at the Football.
Clapton FC were playing Haringey FC at Whiteheart Lane so we met at Wood Green station armed with flags and banners. Chatting about our experiences of football and our childhood teams. One of our crew had been to the game the week before and told us that it had rekindled his love of the game and that the atmosphere had been amazing. We turned into the ground to find a little turnstile with a few people stood around. “a fiver each and a programme” talk about affordable. As we entered the stand the first thing you notice are the array of flags and banners on display.
The game started with a minutes silence in honour of Hillsborough, during which you could hear a pin drop. Such respect shown and cries for justice for the 96 repeated throughout the game. But the best was yet to come. The football chants sung with the greatest of humour and the proudest vocals I have ever heard. The supporters singing to each other and to the players. Children ran around the stall as fathers sung with their comrades. I don’t have anything to compare it to and have never felt so uplifted to hear such songs. Tony Benn and Bob Crow both honoured in the chants and of course the death of Thatcher touched upon. No Red White and Blue celebrated here, red through and through. As we scored the first goal the red smoke bombs where lit and the celebration electric. It couldn’t get much better than this. A chant for a Senegalese player was so powerful and positive a welcome change from the usual racist chants we have become used to. Music to the ears in more ways than one.
A gentleman came over to me and asked if it was my first game I explained my reasons for being there and he asked me if I liked the feminist banner ” We made it especially for International women’s day” he said. And gave me a brief history of the club and it’s supporters. How it had become what it is today with two local lads on deciding to support their local team and had created an antifascist club. When they started there had only been a handful of supporters and now their numbers were growing. We had our chips at half time, and an amazing cup of Rosie. And the chanting continued relentlessly for the rest of the match.
As the game finished the players left the ground and the supporter sang to them and the players stopped and joined in. I have never seen anything like it. It was amazing to see such mutual respect floating around. We went to leave the ground when one of the elder supporters came over and asked us if anyone had told us about the next fixture and he hoped he would see us again. Of course we said you have totally won us over with the amazing welcome and the friendly atmosphere and the politics added to it a little.
Although we didn’t win today, Clapton Ultras show its not just about the winning it’s very much about the supporters. Delighted by the enthusiasm of the whole day I went away feeling positive and inspired. I can officially say I am a Clapton FC supporter and next week I’ll be wearing the scarf.
Last night I went to support a local community group try and deliver a petition about housing and evictions to Matthew Offord Tory MP for Hendon at a public meeting in their community. A crowd of locals numbering 50 with banners and placards marched down the road towards the meeting with an escort of police. We are not talking domestic extremists here,we are talking a local community members upset at the demolition of their housing estate. This estate is to be torn down and replaced with a few nice houses. Not houses for the tenants, no, they are being offered housing all over the place, outside of the community where they have grown up, where their children go to school, where the older residents have lost their partners, know their Dr’s, and know their neighbours. A neighbourhood that may have social problems like so many deprived inner city estates with no youth clubs anymore and the marginalisation of the community but still a community and if they refuse the one offer then they are deemed to be making themselves homeless. What we are seeing here like so many other inner city estates is the gentrification and privatisation of our communities. Hendon itself is now 75% owned by private companies. So off they marched to the church to deliver their petition but when they arrived they were stopped by police from entering into the “public” meeting being told it was by invite only creating a situation where the police were having to guard the doors to the church. They didn’t want to burn the place down or beat the guy up they were just a group of local the local community wanting to air they concerns and grievances to their local MP at his surgery being held for that exact purpose. The police liaised with the MP and the people were told that he would come out and talk to them when he finished his meeting. But Matthew Offord chose not to come out and meet his constituents. After leaving local residents consisting of OAP’s, Priests, children standing outside in the cold for hours he decided to get into a police van at the side entrance and make an escape.
But that wasn’t going to happen and the local surrounded the van and started banging on the windows and blocking his escape.
By this very act of not doing his duty and shirking his responsibilities and meeting his constituents, he himself created a situation of putting children in danger and people under the threat of arrest if they did not move. This had been a peaceful and democratic meeting of people and Matthew Offord MP by his actions created a preventable and frightening situation for some. It is as this point I must add that Sargent Dan Ried who was facilitating the demonstration himself was exasperated by the MP’s actions escalating the situation from being peaceful and fun to a situation were he may have to arrest people. At this point the call was made to get back up and along came the back up. Well what happened next was shocking and way out of proportion. Once again the police forgot who they are meant to be serving and chose to serve some chicken shit of an MP who is paid for by the public purse and elected by the public rather than the people of their community, who where exercising their rights to address their MP nothing more nothing less. The back up was led by Inspector Warwick Saunders who piled into the group and started violently pushing people around escalating the situation. Being aggressive and physical and only what I could interpret as provocative and threatening. He went straight up to a large male and shoved him in the chest for no reason what so ever, this obviously caused the gentleman to respond as you would if you were being attacked by somebody. Sargent Dan Reid who had been with us all night could see that this wasn’t right and intervened telling the lad to calm down trying to prevent an arrest. As the Inspector tried to cuff this lad he was successfully moved away from the back up squad by members of the public and the Sargent. So here we have the Sargent that had facilitated the march and had tea and biscuits provided by community having to help a member of that community and prevent him from being arrested by a colleague because he knew in his heart that this lad had done nothing wrong. An Inspector once again leading by brute force and violence WTF. I am used to seeing this behaviour from these thugs in uniform but I know that law abiding citizens of the local community must be waking up this morning in shock at how the events unfolded.
In the last few weeks we are seeing an escalation in evictions and subsequently an escalation in Eviction resistance. These are grass roots groups that are out on the streets voicing their objections to the evictions being caused by Bedroom taxes, cuts in benefits, non secure tenancies and a whole host of other reasons. It is a basic human right to have a roof over our head and feel secure, but the capitalist system of which the police are part of do not care for that right. We shall protect that right by any means necessary. This is class war.
I don’t remember ever having such a need to show my respects to a public person before as I have done with Bob Crow. Never has one person inspired me to stand on the side of a road in the freezing cold before. Then what happens? 2 people die that I feel worthy of respect, Bob Crow and Tony Benn. So this morning as we set off I was hoping to see the destination on the front of all the underground trains as “Bob Crow” but alas not. We turned up at Woodford South station at about 12.15 with the plan to meet the Funeral Cortège as it passed through Herman Hill to Wanstead High street. We walked along the road passing and speaking to the groups of people dressed in black with their banners and flags that had come out to pay their respects outside their houses. We waited patiently for the cortège to arrive and chatted to an elderly gentleman wearing his RMT badge for 25 years service proudly on his lapel. He decided to come along with us for the walk down the road to meet the procession. We talked of Bob and the good work he had done and how he was a man of the people, His no bullshit attitude and his plain down to earth language and his empathy towards the working class, but we mainly talked about the unions and what next. We talked of new beginnings and the break away from the political party and the need for unions more now than ever. We all talked with the hope that this tragedy may relight the fires we need to see to take on the fight to bring to task the corporations that are enslaving the workforce and removing all rights of welfare and Health and safety in exchange for profit and dividends.
Out of nowhere the sound of horses could be heard and the cortège appeared a Hearse full of flowers with the words RMT in the back window and the coffin following in a horse drawn carriage. The four horses were dressed in blue and white, the colours of Bob Crow’s much loved Millwall Football Club. We stood by the road and solemnly watched it pass.
Car after car and then the Black Taxi drivers drove past us showing their respect with messages in their windows. We nodded to one of them and I asked him if he was going all the way to the Crematoria and did he fancy giving us a lift. “No problem” so we joined the cortège in the back of a cab. A new conversation started as I asked him was he a union member and he explained how they had supported him and saved his job and how he had only just been talking to Bob. We talked politics and unions and it was talk of much respect.
We jumped out of the cab and walked up the road looking at hundred of union and Stop the war banners as thousands of supporters, comrades and co-workers lined the streets. We said hi to friends and colleagues and talked of what a sad day this was. A massive banner held by RMT employees was held at the entrance. At 1.30 a minutes silence was observed and people openly cried. It was powerful and showed so much respect you can’t imagine the atmosphere. There is not a lot more I can add to this other than the world is a lot worse off today than it was 2 weeks ago and we have lost a true man of the people. I am more than sad. I just want to say I didn’t agree with every word from Bob but I agreed with every sentiment and he will be a hard act to follow.
Paul Kenny, leader of the GMB union, said: “Bob was a remarkable fighter for working people, but he was also passionate about protecting the health and safety of the public, which he never got any credit for.
Tributes to Bob Crow will also be paid on May Day, with a special event planned in London. MAY DAY MAY DAY MAY DAY See you on the streets.
“I call on all people, especially political, civic and religious leaders, to strongly condemn messages and ideas based on racism, racial superiority or hatred as well as those that incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
In London Today our message is clear:
NO to scapegoating immigrants
NO to Islamophobia
YES to diversity
As up to 5000 people took to the streets in London today there was a simple message ” We do not agree with racial discrimination” This wasn’t an action this was a parade. Today was about unity and solidarity with our fellow humans regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender and colour. The same message was being delivered all around the country Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff and a united message all over Europe. The atmosphere was buzzing. Coaches lined the streets arriving from all over the country. People greeted each other and banners were unfurled. There were the Unions aplenty, Anti Racist organisations, Universities and the game of the day was trying to get a picture with out the Socialist workers banners in, but the most noticeable thing today was the amount of children that were on the march. After being involved in lots of actions sometimes you lose sight of how many people are in agreement with your ideology because you just don’t see them when you are out opposing the fascist scum, but days like this reinforce the knowledge that your not on your own against this evil. It is a wonderful feeling.
The March proceeded from Old Palace yard down past Parliament and to Trafalgar square where we listened to the speeches. Horrendous stories of institutional racism such as our police making monkey noises whilst Christopher Alder lay dying and families of people murdered by fascists. Heartbreaking and inspirational. The bands played and the people chatted and took pictures. We noticed a few fascist amongst us taking pictures, but I know in my heart they must have been scared by what they saw and rightly so. We are united in our stand against the rising tide of fascism in Europe. No Pasaran.
Yesterday was the start of lent and not that I am a religious person in anyway shape or form it was part of my childhood and I now use it as an exercise in self discipline. Anyway I was doing really well and only had £5 in the pot at close of work. That was until I read about the closing of Lego Land after threats from Right wing Extremist groups and then all possible chance of redemption or why ever you deprive yourself of something was out the window. Fucking right out the window.
A Muslim group called The Muslim Research and Development Foundation had organised an event at Lego Land. A family event, one of several that the foundation arrange. It was to create a safe peaceful environment where families of all backgrounds from around the community could come together and gain a better understanding of each other, bringing communities closer together. Can’t see a problem with that so far no? I mean the “Big Church day out” do it but that’s for days, not one day in a theme park, they camp and all that jazz. I bet they even sing “Kumbaya, my Lord” round the camp fire. But it turns out some right wing extremist groups decided to target this event not happy with people going out and having some community down time. So here it is I find myself writing another open letter to the police or should I say Part 2 of a theme. http://theaccidentalacnarchist.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/an-open-letter-to-the-police/
Once again I find myself having to write to you to express my disbelief at what has just been allowed to happen by you and Lego Land. So a Muslim group decide to organise a community event, I am not here to judge if this group was extreme in it’s religious views as suggested. I think all religion is extreme and I believe No Gods No Masters. So no religious group is going to fair well in my eyes. But that is not the point. Is it not a wonderful thing though that a group are being proactive about obtaining knowledge and understanding of each other and creating some form of community bond? That can’t be bad thing can it. But are we here to question there reasoning for holding such an event? No it is none of our business and everyone should be free to practice any religion they want and regardless commune together for a family orientated event at a Theme park with out fear and intimidation. 4000 tickets had been sold yet you and spineless Lego land have allowed a small number of extremists to dictate who can or can’t do something that is not harming or distressing anyone. This is one of the worst acts of fascism I have seen allowed to take place in a long time. The threatening and intimidation of organisers, families, and employees at a business has just been given a green light by yourselves the very people that should be protecting their civil liberties, their human rights, their right to do what they like when they like in a supposedly democratic society. You have just proven to me that you are facilitators of the right wing, that you are in fact an enabler, you have allowed them to succeed in this despicable act. When the Fatwa was placed on Salaman Rushdie for alleged blasphemy and the cost for protecting him was over £11 million and it wasn’t even questioned in the beginning as it was expected to protect him. So what happened? I pay my taxes of which some of this goes to you(this I regret a I do not agree with your methods) and with this money I expect people that use intimidation and threaten people to be dealt with accordingly and the people that are threatened with violence and intimidated to be protected. I thought that was how it worked correct me if I am wrong. So tell me what happens the next time these right wing extremist groups decide on their next target? What if they target somebody who’s name begins with J, will you be there to protect them? Just remember that was just the thin end of the wedge. No platform for fascists.
A Hampstead mum