If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Anarchy In Action

Last post about Royal Wedding Day, promise.

Yesterday, after watching all the celebratory guff on the TV, we went off to a street party. It was 'organised' (if that is the word) in a village near here. It was a simple thing: no-one actually was in charge, but there was a general agreement to bring some food and drink, a couple of chairs and whatever took your fancy. There is a village green next to the church, but it is a bit too uneven to put tables and chairs on; but the road there is wide and the traffic slight, so the street party was really a bus-stop-and-half-the-road party.

It was great. We sat in the sun, ate other people's food (while they ate ours), had a drink and chatted to people we had never met before. There were babes-in-arms, children, teenagers, young mums and dads, grannies and grandads. No-one was in charge, no-one was taking money (unless you count one villager who generously put an urn and some tea, coffee and milk on a table with a box marked 'donations for charity'), no-one had filled in any forms, no-one had to be inspected, no risks were assessed, and I doubt very much if the County Council even knew about it, never mind give 'permission'.

After a while, the kids got bored and moved a few yards away to the village green, where an impromptu game of rounders was started. A child climbed a tree unsupervised! ...

... and then fell out if it.

Her friend picked her up and they carried on playing.

It was great fun, and very life-affirming. I am normally a fairly solitary creature, but yesterday I was glad to be a social animal and meet lots of different people. It brings out my good side.

No organisers, no rules, no Big Society, no commissars from the local people's soviet coming down with instructions and targets and inclusivity quotas and helpful 'suggestions'.

Anarchy in Action. And it was great.


  1. Sounds great, something that I would have joined too.

    "I doubt very much if the County Council even knew about it, never mind give 'permission'."
    Often the best way, if you don't ask 'they' can't say no.

  2. Actually, I suspect that is the "Big Society" in action. People in a community organising stuff for themselves and not just sitting there, whining that the council haven't put anything on for them.

    I could be wrong, though, given the variety of possible interpretations of the term...

  3. @banned - indeed. Although what staggers me is the very idea that anyone needed 'permission' to hold a party in their own street. But that's what has been going the rounds - "Buttholeshire County Council are pleased to permit the residents of Ordinary Street to hold a street party, subject to the following conditions ..." We seem to be keen to drop our trousers and bend over for them these days.

    @patently - depends how you define Big Society, I suppose. In the best sense of the word, that is indeed what happened. I was thinking more of government Big Society Facilitating Officers decsending and telling people how to have a Safe and Permissible Good Time According To The Rules.

  4. Which is the problem (or the advantage?) inherent in terms like "Big Society" - they mean pretty well whatever you want them to mean at any specific moment.

    To me, it is about sacking all the Facilitating Officers and letting people get on with it. To the Facilitating Officers (I like the term, btw!) it probably means something very different :-D

  5. To them (and the Enabling Outreach Workers, and the Diversity and Vibrancy Monitors), it means everybody doing all nice things and stuff, playing nicely with no Rude Words, under the direction of Somebody Sensible. Now who could disagree with that, children?

    My primary school was more freewheeling and edgy than life under this lot.


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