Suddenly advancing at the speed of light (compared to the previous entries), I am now considering the period in which I have been squatting along with people from Bath. Being a mutualist and fully subscribing to the slogan ‘no ownership without use,’ and furthermore, not recognising any obligation outside of the natural ones, except those freely decided upon, such as the ownership rule alluded to above, this activity did not give me a hint of moral qualms. I was more worried about what people might say or do, in a kind of oppressed-but-what-can-you-do way.
After having passed through the door of the Black Cat, I was introduced to J and, if I remember correctly, D. As I said, it’s been a long time and I don’t remember things that well anymore. I know that at some point I got some news by email, from someone in Bristol, E. E is another dear friend-activist that I met and worked with in Calais. She’s always been very caring with me. Too caring maybe ? Anyway, she told me she was in Bristol, which is 10 miles from Bath, and I should come over to meet her. There was an event that she was working for, kinda. This was a Monday night, but I felt like moving out. So I made plans to leave to Bristol, and I asked if I could borrow a bike for that, which I could. Great people in Bath.
I was absolutely sick of always heaving mountains of stuff everywhere I went, and I looked forward to just take a raincoat, a piece of paper, and a sleeping bag. And there was a cycle path from Bath to Bristol which was very nice to take. I was also looking to hit the Kebele Social Centre, where for some reason I thought I would definitely see A. I thought this centre was inhabited by activists from Bristol. I thought I’d get a footing there actually, that there were stuff that needed to get done.
So the first part of the journey, starting on a Tuesday around 11, was quite pleasant. A little windy, but also I felt very light on the bike with zero luggage. I’d taken notes on a piece of paper, with all the names of the streets I was gonna go through as I continued cycling on the path, ever closer to Kebele, and then to Arnolfini. The ride was tiresome after a while though. I checked for street names many times. I saw the skeleton of a racing bike on top of a trunk, and promised myself to get back some day and recycle that nice back wheel. They say it’s the width that’s important. A thinner one is more difficult to handle, but it’s also faster.
It started to rain as I approached Bristol. I took the raincoat out of the sleeping bag where I’d stuffed it, and then I reattached the bag under the top tube, using a bit of string to tie it properly at the other side. I found the whole arrangement quite clever, considering the three previous failures. I was quite happy with the way things were looking.
But upon arriving at Kebele, I found a closed door, and no movement at all inside. What a disappointment! Where was Alex!? Oh well, nevermind, let’s get to Arnolfini. I’ve barely got enough time to get there by 3. Cycling on the path was easy, as I only had to go straight until I spotted the right place to take a turn. It was a lot more difficult once inside of town. I eventually found my way, after damning public maps many times over. Seriously those maps are ridiculous. There’s no respect for the usual north-bounds perspective and so you find yourself wondering if you’re looking at South-West or North-East. What the hell ? And sometimes, you’re even wondering if you actually are on the map, because the layout looks nothing like where you are, and there’s nothing showing where you wanna go either. It couldn’t be less helpful.
But anyway, once I got to Arnolfini, I wandered around inside, looking for E and certainly finding the artistic-activist event she was helping with, but not being there anyway. I figured she’d be at this very interesting bike workshop. I tried the receptionist and asked her if E was here. But I was told no names were given. So then I went for patience. Which in my case means walking the entire premises and looking bored and pissed off, checking my mobile phone from time to time. I checked the bar once or twice and thought that I’d spotted E but also that it couldn’t have been her.
And actually it was. So that I’d been strandled there for 30 minutes with no good reason. Well, wasn’t you in this workshop theoretically ? Well, it starts only in an hour from now. Oh… Good times we had, and it was good to talk about how things were, and what I was feeling like. She told me about this project that was in the works upstairs and how I might find somewhere to stay for a week if I participated. And it sounded excellent to me, especially the bike workshops.
So I got to stay on a boat for the rest of the week. The project, sadly, was involving group thinking and designing, to a level that I didn’t feel capable on. I believe I tried drawing a prototype of a bike, along with everyone, but this seemed so far-fetched, and the others seemed to come up with great things already, I just couldn’t move myself to do anything. After staring for 5 minutes at my bike model, and thinking hard what could be useful, I simply stopped. That wasn’t for me. I kinda openly said I needed the place to stay, and I tried to help mostly with washing-up. They even called me the washing machine. And I was there at the bike workshops. But mostly it was me staying there and catering to other needs, like going to a library and going on the internet.
At some point during the week, I heard that my mom had been charged with unreasonable defamation, and even the Immigration Minister had weighed in. That allows me to tie things in a little, and link for the first time to myself. This was a Thursday and I’d decided to turn back on Friday. But just then I’d gotten an email from A saying that we should meet on Saturday. Ohhhh. Okay, fine. I’d wanted to meet this guy for a long time. This was worth being longer than I thought and meeting on Friday. Actually, wait, Saturday. Owwww. That’s really starting to be awkward.
So I made my stay last much longer than I intended, and I could feel one person at least wasn’t at all okay with this. I crossed that guy while on the stairs of Arnolfini and while I smiled at him, he just stared ahead coldly, like I wasn’t even there. Ewww. Time to leave. So then on Saturday night, I left for that meeting, feeling very hopeful.