Archive for November, 2013

Meetings and Movies

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Actually, I have been too busy to catch up with myself lately, much less the blog. Already one Attac meeting has faded so far in the distance (a week) that we just have to skip it. But I did see a great film last night with several of the local Attac folks, vetting it for an Attac event in December or January. Had an excellent bowl of vegetable soup as well. The Social Forum continues its active life, and within a month we should know if there is some chance we might actually organise one for the weekend of the Fourth of July, 2014. I mentioned it was “my national day”, meant nothing to them. But it is before the Tour starts anyway. So I restrict my high class gossip for these two events, and my reading group and my cataracts.


The film was made by a French guy about Tower Colliery in Wales. Attac is trying to have a wee theme for the next year, auto-gestion. Self Management. So we search for people who might come and be experts. We look for films where even the director might turn up to chat. All limited of course by the need for French subtitles or French films. So the Tower Colliery film as a very high class documentary. A bit old, made in the very late nineties I think. Trailer: We need to read a bit, which I have not done yet, about what has happened in the last 15 years. To be honest, I had never heard of Tower Colliery before this film, by a French director, with French subtitles. I thought it was really very good, but it bothered and annoyed me a little as well. I figure a film that bothered me and made the others think was a good one. I have no idea what film they “saw”, as none of them know very much about Wales and the Valleys and the history of coal in the UK. But still, this immediate area was a big mining area, with a rich history of coal mining and a residue of mining even now. I remember the passion which the others in the group, one militant especially were appalled by the idea of the miners’ management proposition to make some money by tourism. The proposed experience was an underground hotel for those who want to experience total darkness and total silence, as well as checking out the actual mine. The miners thought that mining was mining and should not be diluted with tourist ventures. The management-worker conflicts were all noticed, not ignored, even though all workers in the mine were “equal”, in terms of shares. Although Tower Colliery was is one form of a genuine co-operative, there were still quite usual conflicts. The film reminded me very strongly of Ken Loach, whom many of the French folks knew well. Not really the focus of my own history, mining and Wales, a film totally about men, except when they are eating, a moment when women appear. A little too “old” for me. But of course I am sufficiently conservative to understand people fighting for the retention of their traditional way of life. I only filled up about ten times during the movie, with the deep recognition of what they were doing, magnificent to see a real struggle unfolding. Anyway it was a nice evening, free, with pals. So I did a bit of “research’ and discovered that the Colliery is shut, they ran out of coal. They still own the land and might begin an open cast mine on their land. I find that vaguely upsetting, but then the very product they make, coal, is not a great product these days. Hard to find pure good guys in a dirty confusing world.


Then there was the arrival of my book for the first meeting of our six person “theoretical reading group”. Another guy is doing the organising, not me. I am just an active participant. Three men and three women, all English speakers. Maybe another woman might join. One Franco-Brit, one Australian, four English, one Anglo-American. Only one below 60. Four ex-academics, one ex-never-really-academic(me), two not-academic, but a thoughtful reader. Very different backgrounds, but with some kind of at least superficial desire to talk about heavy books, theory, with other English speakers. First book is David Graeber on Debt, the first 5,000 years. Been meaning to read that for some time. But its is long, 360 pages. Hope it goes fast. I have not read a serious book all the way through for ages. I am excited about this little group even though we are all so different that we might not be skilful enough to weave a tapestry together. Hard to tell. But we are all experienced folks, so if the will is there, a way will be found.


However, the best meeting was the latest one for the Social Forum. I have been more or less focussing on that group for a few months now, trying to get it going again. I had hoped there would be 15 at this meeting, the first one to really begin planning or trying to plan the next Forum. Our preferred date seemed to be the weekend of the Fourth of July. What was most interesting is that there were new people, which was the intention of the last event we had on Decroissance and Democracy. A couple about my age, who live in the plain just south of us. Hard to tell how they will fit in and do work, but they are keen and competent. Maybe more crucial were the FOUR younger people who who took part. Two of them have been with us for a bit, but one couple is quite new, attracted by our last event, which was designed to “attract some new people”. It worked. No doubt you will get to know them as time goes on, they are clearly part of the saga unfolding. They took responsibilities, all four seem to have good experiences and skills to contribute. They look like the key to the success of the next Forum, aided of course by us wise old figures who know the ropes. So we now have four people going to see the mayor to find out if he will give us some money. He should, as he has subsidised the two previous ones. Basically the Mayor finances them, with the money which we have all paid him in taxes. With a budget of 25 million a year, and if he fancies us doing the work, he can find the money. If he says no, things slow down a lot. Or at least change direction. With a yes for a budget of five six grand, we can do it. Another small group will look into some locations, find out if they are free for the dates we want. Another group is looking into finding some music, another into finding food providers, another beginning to make a list of workshops which will be organised, not by the organising group, but by one or two people who know the subject of the workshop. The workshop organisers do the work, not us. Loads of ideas emerge instantly, there is no doubt we can put on a quality show. Speaking of which we will have a series of films during the weekend, in the newly organised municipal cinema. So everything now depends on the mayor giving us back our taxes to do this work for the town and ourselves. There were loads of ideas, some quite practical. Like moving the “organic market” on Saturday, to the courtyard of the school for one day. So every shopper has to walk a very short distance, and see what is happening. Overall, a terribly positive meeting, especially with some of those young ones. One of the women seems to be blossoming as a bit of “leader” type person. She facilitated the meeting very well, for the first time. We always need someone like that and it was good she gave it a go and did a superb job. I will send her a wee article on facilitating.


Overall a fine last few days in the hotbed of politics that I live in. I also got on the bike twice. Although it was a bit damp on Saturday, so I watched two rugby matches all the way through. It was nice to be home alone for the last few days, I could be a little bit more spontaneous. Speaking of which, I should be writing the next blog with new lenses in both eyes. Cataract operations are now something I am a missionary for. Amazing to see so well with my eyes, supplemented by a lens, no idea even where it was made. I even had a good day, really quite good, at the organic market on Saturday, but I don’t have time to talk about that today.