Occupying the mind 5

Wednesday 26th October 2011

“FEEL like doing something.”

“Anything in particular?”

“Helping in some way. Doing the washing up perhaps.”

The General Assembly has finished: mostly announcements about discussion groups, recycling, banners and sanitation. No fuss, no ranting or chanting. It could be Freshers’ Week or a National Trust open day. There is a pleasing matter-of-fact-ness in what is said, and done.

It is more evolution than revolution. And it will not be televised.

Ben gets his wish and we wash the dishes. You don’t ask if or what, but just roll up your sleeves and relieve the previous shift. Large tureens contain curry, rice, soup and coins. Nobody takes from the latter, which seems cold, tasteless, uninviting. More food is donated than eaten. That the kitchen is today serving more sightseers than campers is neither questioned nor relevant.

I don an apron, cross Cannon Street to fill water containers, sluice slops down a drain, listen to street musicians while having a fag break on the cathedral steps of history.

Sharing resources is a difficult conceit. Could be a while before it takes off. There are, after all, still countless citizens who would rather besmirch, berate or butcher the needy than feed them.

A teenager asks me for a cigarette; a Hackney Citizen reporter wants my opinion; a City of London Corporation policeman does not. Hundreds of passers-by read the slogans and dissertations taped to walls and tied to metal barriers. A cardboard message asks St Paul’s to “forgive us our trespasses”.

Ben has finished his stint at the makeshift sink. Ross is wiping the few remaining utensils and Rampaul chopping vegetables. A poet friend, Catherine, greets us with a hug. Her three-person tent is occupied this weekend but we’re welcome to use it any time.

We stroll over the Millennium Bridge, talking about our children, rational thinking, and how good is to be alive, to bear witness to this peaceful process.

Needing the loo, we go into The Globe: once a vision, now a solid structure.

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