Thursday, October 06, 2011
Got a bit of an insight into two different aspects of life last night - communal living and political activism. Josie Long's Alternative Reality Tour came to the Old Hall commune in East Bergholt and we went along to be entertained and educated. The tour is visiting places that don't normally get on the normal touring map, and is being organised largely through word of mouth and twittering. A bit more organised than Amanda Palmer's "Ninja gigs" but along the same line.
I had completely forgotten there was an active commune in the birthplace of Constable (and Tory safe seat!) but they have been living in Old Hall since the 70s and all seem to be doing well on it. I think most of the residents were there for the show along with as handful of us outsiders - we were made welcome and didn't feel like we were intruding on their home. The idea of communal living has never really appealed to me. Being thrown in with strangers at college was strange enough so I'm not sure I could handle life with more than just the immediate family (i.e. Mrs B) around. Heck, some days I get annoyed by the next door neighbour popping in (or indeed, just being on the other side of the fence when we are in the garden).
Still, the concepts of living as susatinably as possible, raising your own food, helping each other out and generally being nice to one another are all ones I fully endorse. Good luck to one and all - not that they seem to need it.
The show itself was superb. I've been a fan of Josie for a while through the Utter Shambles podcasts she does with Robin Ince, Twitter and other places - although not actually seen her perform before. That's something I still haven't quite got used to in this interconnected modern world - being able to know a lot about someone, appreciate their humour/message/whatever without ever having actually experienced what they do most of the time. In this sort of field it goes far beyond, say, liking a band's music but not owning any of their records or having been to see them live.
Part of the ethos for this tour is "anti-cuts" and trying to get people inspired to find alternatives to the budget slashing going on around us right now and take action against it. With both of us working in the public sector and being under constant threat of being the victim of the cuts I'm right behind this. And if you can make people laugh at the same time then so much the better in my book. The venue was just right for the message (in fact we were in the old chapel (now de-consecrated) rather than just loose in the hall) with a teeny stage and a few standard lamps, leaving us free to concentrate on the matter in hand. I had thought about taking a camera to capture the moment but decided against it in the end as I know I would have ended up more bothered by angles and framing rather than being part of the audience.
As with the communists (!) I'm not sure I could ever get as directly involved in taking action - always a bit paranoid about unforeseen consequences - but fully support those who do. I have the convictions but not the courage I guess. Having followed the student protests, UKuncut occupations etc it was fascinating to hear more from someone who'd been on the inside.
We also had sublime music from Aisha and Grace Petrie and a bit more comedy from Tom.
All told, a great way to spend an evening at a remarkably reasonable cost (i.e. free!). If you get the chance, catch one of the rest of the tour dates.