Sunday, 20 November 2011

Occupy Brighton: Up to Date Reportage on the Most Limp-Wristed Revoution in History

I don't want to be on X Factor. Why would I when I'm on Rorate Caeli!? It doesn't get bigger than that in the traditional Catholic World!

If anyone wants a copy of the song below, by the way, I have home recording software on my computer and a copy is yours for just £2.49, yes, that's right, just £2.49, by which time I'll have got around to the elaborate sax solo and the difficult B-side, Across the Universae Ecclesiae.

Anyway, more reportage from the Occupy Brighton camp tonight, where I've been choosing love over fear in what has to be the most limp-wristed revolution in history. Not that its just a Brighton thing. This kind of not-in-the-slightest-bit-offensive, very confused protest is now going global. I don't know what is amiss with it, its just I can imagine Che Guevara walking into the 'occupied territory' on the Victoria Gardens strip, wondering why he'd even bothered learning about dialectical and historical materialism, throwing his kalashnikov into the fountain and walking off in a huff. They were even worried about making noise after 11pm because the landlord of the King and Queen pub had told them he'd made a complaint about noise to the Council because his baby daughter wasn't sleeping well. So, in a spirit of true civil rebellion, the camp complied because they don't want the Council to get complaints. "Let's not storm the Winter Palace tonight, boys, we might wake the children!"

That's not to pour scorn on the resolve or idealism of the protesters. Most, though by no means all, are quite young, naive and just want to see the World be a nicer place in which niceness prevails over political corruption, corporate greed and the inordinate love of money. That's right! Just £2.49!

This evening there were about ten of us around the campfire. Guitars were released from their cases and played, though I must say I did not have the courage to play any of my own material ("Summorum what?") It was only when I walked home with a friend that we discussed the reality of the Occupy situation and that, in fact, despite the presence of between 20-25 tents on the site, only ten people were around all night. I asked my friend whether anyone might have gone to bed early and he said, "No, they're empty, mate." I spent a good hour trying to catch up with an incredibly competent guitarist as he negotiated his way through a series of intricate song arrangements with chords that I have never seen.  There was a truly cringeworthy moment (yes another one) when I played along to him playing 'Another Brick in the Wall' for which I shall have to answer on the Last Day. 

Credit where it is due, though, for the Occupy Movement is not, from what I can see, rejecting the homeless. I talked to one man by the campfire who has been homeless in Brighton quite a long time and who apparently goes on the Soup Run by the Peace Statue. He has a tent and sleeps in the Occupy camp and he's grateful for it because in his words, 'it is the only just rent system in Brighton'. He has a point. We discussed how much housing benefit St Patrick's Nightshelter take from the Council in terms of public money and how even more rapacious corporate scumbags like Baron Homes Corporation Ltd plunder the misery of the homeless at 17/19 Grand Parade and use the money to help sister organisation, Baron Estates, acquire a vast portfolio of property at home and abroad.

He says that every hostel and temporary homeless accommodation place he has been offered from the Council he has refused and walked away. Why? Because they are all s**tholes, squalid dives of places where you literally have to be on drugs in order to stay there, in order to stay sane. He was particularly scathing of St Patrick's Hostel, where all he found in his room was a messed up rubber mattress and a sink covered in blood! All of these places charge a top-up of between £10 and £20 a week even though it is obvious both charities and businesses in the tramp-farming trade could do well without it.

So, he prefers to sleep rough and has done for a long time. He isn't on smack, crack, Jack Daniels or even Scrumpy Jack. He chooses to live as a rough sleeper because he has seen all there is to see of Brighton's accommodation for the homeless and life is genuinely more pleasant and safe outside.  He even camped out for a while near 'millionaires row' where Brighton's celebrities reside, like Fat Boy Slim a.k.a Norman Cook, who started out in The Housemartins and went on to become a very rich local DJ.

All he did was camp on the beach near the millionaires and lit a campfire, slept out there with a placard demonstrating against Brighton's squalid and corrupt hostels system and the millionaires called the police on him and made repeated efforts to have him removed from the beach!  Nice! God forbid that millionaires should see such eyesores as the homeless outside their windows! All I can say is, thank God the Occupy Brighton people let him sleep in his tent there and he has a nice fire he can warm himself by. Good on them!

Meanwhile, please pray that I will not be possessed by the spirit of '68, or if I am, to be exorcised of it soon so that I do not join these young idealistic children of the revolution in their fight against enemies both 'visible and invisible'. Say a prayer for them. They mean well. One of them even works at Domestic and General. The homeless man said that this camp is being treated very leniently and that if the homeless had tried this camp city (yes I know its already a camp city) then police with batons and tasers would have been in before the fire could be stoked.

The idealistic young people will most likely eventually quit the camp within the year (that's the 99% of them who do have flats) and ten or twenty years down the line vote Conservative. The 1% of the camp that is genuinely homeless are the real deal. Their stories, I believe, should be reported more. Aside from that, I think that the Occupy movement is just an excellent excuse for young left-wing people to feel 'good', chat, make friends and sing songs by a campfire like, presumably, their parents did. I came home to my nice warm flat, ate some nice warm pate on warm toast, had a nice hot cup of tea and now I'm going to my nice warm bed. Tomorrow morning, like many of the radicals of Occupy up and down the country, I'll have a nice warm shower, some nice warm lunch after Mass and maybe pop over tomorrow evening to chat with them again to warm myself by the fire like St Peter denying his Lord. Gosh, now this is what I call my kind of a revolution! I get to keep living as I have been and watch the World change before my very eyes! Right, bedtime, but first I'm going to listen to the proper Catholic legend, Bruce Springsteen, one more time. "Tramps like us, baby we were born to ruuuuuuuuuun!" Incredible...

One last thought on Occupy. Somehow, we have to communicate to the Occupy movement that with only one or two exceptions, great mass movements that push God to the periphery or exclude Him are either doomed to fail or result in some kind of tyranny.  St Francis of Assisi and Blessed Theresa of Calcutta show us that we can only change the World for the better when we ask for Divine Help and when we are servants of God, rather than masters of human affairs. If all men and women in Parliament and the banking industry served God, then our current climate, let's face it, may perhaps be a little different.


Fortiter Pugnem said...

I understand that all of these people mean well, and that the young will change their minds. However, I was recently outside of a Federal Reserve building in the US and the same thing- about thirty tents and three Weber grills, but only six people actually present.
Four of them looked like they had just come from the backwoods and hadn't shaved in some thirty-odd years. They kind of reminded me of Hank Williams Jr... oh wait, this is Britain.
The other two were 40ish and were regular looking homeless people. So much for my local media reports on young Occupy people.
Great post and thoughts! And great song! God Bless!

Hughie said...

Reminds of the late Social Democrats's rally in the West End of Glasgow (more years ago than my alcohol intake in my youth allows me to remember);
Lead: "What do we want?"
Marchers: "Radical change!"
Lead:"When do we want it?"
Marchers: "In due course."

umblepie said...

Another great post, thanks.

The Only Safe Space in the World

Virus normalcy, the so-called 'new normal', is for Christians almost certainly more abhorrent than it is for people of other reli...