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Category Archives: ranting

So much for community spirit

There’s a Disaster Manifesto meme going around – how would I save the world from Blood Flu?  To be honest, even if I did have the authority to force communities to organise together, they’d only be torn apart by arrogant, paranoid self-promoters, terrified of losing face by deferring to others but equally reluctant to take any actual responsibility for anything.  They prefer to repeat that the police will take care of us, the supermarkets will feed us, the authorities have it all under control.  Well, the authorities certainly have it under control in Australia, and just ask my friend Elaine how well that’s turned out.  And things have actually got better for ordinary people in most of the Chinese provinces where the government’s lost control.  And the US West Coast is so well under control we can’t even get figures on the numbers dead.

The Community Disaster Response Collective is finished.  We (well, I) got into a bit of an altercation with the Neighbourhood Watch committee, who felt they should have been put in charge from the beginning.  They’ve decided we’re treading on their toes, and they’ll deal with issues of security should the need arise, and threatened to report us under the Terror and Radicalism Act.   Sarah was all for defying them, but I gave in and dissolved the group.  Those poor kids spending three years in jail for occupying a Tesco Metro could tell you why.  Jane Morrison actually called that an armed robbery!  Robbery because they distributed a few bags of rice and tinned tomatoes, and armed because they “had metal sticks in their banners”.  Even the courts didn’t go so far as to try and stick armed robbery on them – they didn’t hurt or threaten anybody, so they did them under ‘Conspiracy of Silence’ when those arrested refused to identify those who got away.  I’m still haunted by that CCTV footage – some of the ones being battered, tasered and dragged from that shop were younger than Sarah.

Sarah finally forgave my reluctance when I reminded her that I was at the “Storm in a Kettle” in ’15, protesting the passing of the bill that led to the TRA.  I have good reasons for not wanting to get on the wrong side of that act.  She doesn’t really remember the aftermath of that day – two police dead, and 54 protesters, and many more still in jail despite the lack of evidence.  I didn’t really want to bring it up again – it’s not a day I like to remember – but these things must be remembered, I suppose.  She dredged up a recollection of Sue worrying because I hadn’t come home, and of being told I’d been in an accident, and not to jump on me when I came in.  She’s angry, now, that we lied to her.  I said, “You were only six, what were we supposed to tell you?”  She said we should have told her the truth, and if she didn’t understand then she would have understood later.  I see a lot of my parents in Sarah, and I’m not sure whether it makes me happy or terrified.

Anyhow, since we’re all too aware of how easy it would be to present the CDRC as a “Group unaffiliated to a registered electoral party, whose aims, actions or literature promote illegal activities or incite public disorder”, we elected to disband.  The Neighbourhood Watch say it only worries people to go around asking if they want help.  “We take care of our own” is the response – but who are our own?  Judy at no. 17 was happy enough to be part of the CDRC when we first called round, but when the Morrisons told her it was radicals and asylum seekers looking for handouts, she came asking for her money back.

It got to the point where there were so few of us that everybody decided to just take their own share of the supplies, and I got left with what nobody else wanted.  I tried to give the remaining food to a homeless shelter, but apparently they’re only allowed to accept cash donations, so I’m currently keeping 30 tins of beans and a 10kg bag of pasta in the caravan.

What a pointless waste of time.  I think now that what I’d really do if I had the power – if I didn’t have to answer to anybody, or worry about keeping my job – I’d get my family the hell away from here and set up in a small-holding, taking care of ourselves as far away from anybody else as possible.

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Posted by on April 18, 2026 in memes and quizzes, planning, ranting

 

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Meeting and mobilising

The first meeting of the Community Disaster Response Collective is planned for tonight.  I’ve posted it on all the relevant Socnets and put notices in shop windows and on lamp posts, and I even did a bit of door to door with those neighbours I’m on nodding terms with.

There was a bit of interest from the Whitbys and the Macgregors.  I remember Linda Macgregor from some of the Autumn of Rage demos in 2015 and she still sometimes sidles up to me with a knowing “Wotcha, Comrade” at the deli counter in Sainsbury’s.  I’m trying to play down that connection: I don’t want her getting (or giving) the impression this group’s going to be confrontational with the Borough Council. I’ve booked the Town Hall.

I had the opposite problem with the Morrisons – the chicken-worriers from next door.  They moved here last year from the Cotswolds, where it seems they had long experience as semi-professional community busybodies.  They asked who was coming to the meeting, and kept exchanging looks and tutting when I named a few neighbours.  Then Geoff clarified that what they’d meant was: who’s coming that’s important: any MPs, councillors, local business owners.  I told them I’d invited the Shapiros, who run Total Convenience, and the Kaplans at Kebab Korner – turns out this wasn’t exactly what they meant, either, but rather than elaborate on who counted as a legitimate local business concern, they suggested I should have the police there to consult on security matters.  I tried to pick my words carefully.  I’m envisaging the group’s purpose as being relevant to scenarios in which the big businesses and authorities would be somewhat preoccupied.
“This is more about how we might have to take care of ourselves, and each other,” I told them.
They exchanged a stony look.
“We can take care of ourselves,” Jane said.
“And each other,” I repeated.
“We’ve got security,” Geoff added, looking me up and down.
“As a community, I mean.”
“If you want to do something to protect the community from the Asi—from the ’flu, you can get rid of those bloody chickens in your garden.  They’re unhygienic.”  He leaned in, and added, “We keep chickens on farms in this country.”

There’s no use trying to involve people whose idea of community organising is writing letters to the local papers admonishing MPs for ‘letting in the wrong sort’.  There’s a malicious part of me that hopes they’ll have to come crawling to the CDRC for help, which we could either begrudge them or offer freely and sanctimoniously.  But no – I fervently hope that nobody ever really needs our help, and that the whole thing’s a waste of time.  Except it won’t be a waste, because if nothing else we’ll get the community into one room, talking and making plans together, recognising one another in the street, and even if that’s all that comes of it, it will be worthwhile.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2026 in actually doing something, planning, ranting

 

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