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I’ve heard and read lots of people over the last couple of days telling us what Margaret Thatcher did to harm them and make their lives more difficult. Her sins are then recounted to make it clear how right this person is that it was her fault. But as that well-known “terrorist” Nelson Mandela said “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping that it will kill your enemies.”
Nonetheless, I have a lot of sympathy with those who are picking away at their old wounds. If you’d asked me in November 1990 (while I was honeymooning in Malta and desperately trying to find out what was really going on back in London)what reaction I’d have if she actually died, I’d have probably given you a list of reasons why I would enjoy dancing on her grave.
I joined the Labour Party at the age of 18, toward the end of 1983, partly in response to the horrendous election result in June of that year. I think I was told at home to “stop moaning about it and go and do something about it”.
As a recent school-leaver without a job and as a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists, I was active throughout the following year in campaigns to support the printworkers in dispute with Eddie Shah and supporting miners on strike through 1984 and ’85.
So all through the eighties I was involved and awake to what was going on. And all through that period, I hated Thatcher and the rest of the Government. But I can’t do that any more, it stopped working for me. This isn’t piety, it’s self-preservation.
Next Wednesday, while a coffin-bearing gun carriage trundles down Fleet Street to St Paul’s I’d like to do something other than the obvious choices of cheering or jeering.
I think we need to focus rather on the release of resentment and ways to find reconciliation, preferably without talking about MHT or her colleagues at all. So I’ll be holding Human Scale Conversations on those themes. If you’re interested in doing something different on that day, come along. I’ve not settled on a venue yet, but somewhere away from Whitehall and The City – maybe the weather will be kind and we can go somewhere in Hyde Park. I’ve put up a #wewillgather event and see what happens.
UPDATE/AFTERTHOUGHT I’m doing this in Central London, but if you’re not here on Wednesday, I’d strongly encourage you to organise you’re own event in a similar vein.
I’ll be attending SXSWi in Austin, Texas again. My panel was not picked, but emotion aside all that means is that I’ll have to pay $blah or so for a ticket. So I’m definitely still going to go – it’s just well, you know, too lovely and awesome not to.
Last year we flew over a few days before and had some holiday time hanging out and getting acclimatimed and then flew back the day after interactive closed.
This time I want to take it a bit more gently. Here are the bare bones of the evil plan, which I’d prefer to do with a gang of tuttle-istas if we can find ways of funding it:
1. Find the shortest flight to North America possible (does that mean least-polluting? I don’t know but that seems like a good aim to bear in mind) and fly at least a week before SXSWi opens ie arrive March 5th at the latest.
2. Devise a series of train journeys from wherever I land, down to Austin, preferably going via New Orleans to visit that good friend of Tuttle, Mr Taylor Davidson and see how his Crescent City adventure is panning out. Yes, you read that right, train journeys. I understand that the US train system is not quite as beautiful or efficient as its European sisters. However, train travel rocks, it just does.
3. At stopping places throughout the journey hold Human-scale Conversation sessions with local people talking about differences between US and British culture – not trying to solve anything particularly, just getting the subject out on the table and seeing what comes of it. There will be heavy-duty social reporting of these conversations. Note that the format has been refined since July with some extra flourishes – this is how I introduced something like it at the Tuttle/Counterpoint event in December.
4. Once in Austin, continue to hold Human-scale Conversation sessions on the same subject and present #kebab-style what we heard, found, learned, saw along the way.
5. Make our way back to the east coast overland again, putting together a documentary film from the footage shot during the first part of the trip, so that we have something ready to show when we get back to London.
Howzat grab ya?
Here’s 8 ways you can help (and I’m sure you’ll come up with more)
1. Tell me how you’d improve on the plans and make them even more exciting.
2. Tell me why this is oh so very wrong-headed, misguided and stupid (I won’t listen very much, but I’d rather ask you for this than you just provide it out of the blue!).
3. Help me work out rough costings for each variation.
4. Provide money (just loads of it, regardless of the costs!)
5. Suggest routes and interesting stopover points, tell me why you think it’s interesting.
6. Volunteer to tag along and tell me how we’d pay for that.
7. Find other supporters with more money than time who’d like to see this happen.
8. Introduce me to sponsors who might provide help in terms of cash, food, shelter, transport as well as social reporting equipment.
UPDATE (18/01/10): The planning for this trip is now going on over here Come see!