Saturday morning at the corner of Burgess Road and High Street North we see about five men sitting on the pavement, some barefoot. Eastern European appearance. Beer bottles show they have been drinking. They are quiet, not obviously drunk. Then by Lidl we see a man of South Asian appearance lying on the ground, asleep perhaps. There is a plastic container besides him. We walked that route to avoid the top of Caledon Road which invariably has the stench of urine, particularly around the recess as the side of Asda.
Sunday, I see a neighbour going to a car with an animal in a metal cage. It’s a rat, not the first he’s found in his home. The thing is huge and looks so well fed that at for a moment I think it’s a pet. I tell him that from time to time I trap small mice and take them to the common but I have never see anothing like that. He is taking it to some wasteland.
Every day on the High Street I see people begging, they are familiar. The man with a crippled foot, the old Asian woman sitting with her hand out. Once, a while ago, I saw a group of them disembarking from a minibus. I understand that someone is organising this, but when I have change I give it to one of the beggers.
An old Englishman who has lived in Newham all his life speaks to us in the cafe. We talk about how things have changed. He complains that there are too many Rumanians. I say that there are too many poor people and that no one cares. I don’t remember it being so bad ten years ago. I struggle to remember when it go so bad. Like the frogs in boiling water we do not notice the water becoming hotter until it becomes intolerable.
The worst thing is that no one seems to care. Perhaps people care but don’t talk about it. We have ceded our power and responsibility to the politicians and we see the result. If you put yourself up as leaders of a community this is who you are – this is how you look and you should be ashamed. You do not lead, you do not inspire and you do not encourage people to seek solutions or help each other. Once I was a member of the Labour Party and tried to talk about these thing, I did try to have these conversations .. and then citing some posts that I had made on Facebook over several years and that they had trawled through these absolute shits accused me of being antisemetic and expelled me from their shoddy and corrupt party. I am not resentful because of that insult. I am resentful because I am cut off from a sense of being part of a community that cares. I am resentful because I and we have been disenfranchised in every meaningful way.
I wish to speak mildly but once I get going I find it difficult to be polite about all this. I don’t wish to join any organisation or to lead any organisation. I don’t want to be lectured and I don’t want to pontificate. I want to have conversations, human, truthful, authentic. If you don’t think I should be talking this way, if you resent what I am saying about your leaders, your parties and your politics then don’t even bother to talk to me because you are part of the problem. You scare me because you will always support them. When push comes to shove you will shove anyone who speaks out of turn under the bus. Its not a different thing, or unrelated, that Julian Assange is in jail for speaking truth and as a warning. Truth is inconvenient to power. Power always punishes truthtellers.
I didn’t intend to talk about all this when I started writing but it snowballs doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why people don’t talk honestly because when we think about it we become angry .. and how dare we become angry? We have to accept the anger, and the fear, and work through it so that our talking begins to build real community. The kind of community that can work things out together.I’m going to post this on my FB page and on a couple of FB groups .. so some will see it more that once. I want to talk about these things in this group especially: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ConsciousCompassionateCreativeConversation but I will respond anywhere to anyone who responds anywhere.