online: 12 july 2003

11 july 2003 giving and receiving

20:54 Parliament Hill. Cool, fresh air from the north west after 2 days of stifling polluted air from south and east. Recovering from the respiratory illness that such conditions can provoke. I've been in bed for two days but am recovering quickly in this benign west wind that makes life possible at this lattitude (the lattitude of Labrador).

I moved fron windy hilltop to a seat lower down the hill, in still air, from which there is an unobstructed view of central London - this evening beneath an almost full moon. The freedom of summer. Small children run down the hill and then roll on the level grass below. Some well-fed looking people stop to look at the view and to talk about it. These are freedoms our ancestors fought for - against commercial pressure and our often prevailing selfishness. This city forest would not exist but for them.

It's getting cold beneath clear sky and the city lights are switching on automatically. When I was about 10 one of my friends was the son of the lamplighter - his father walked each day to each gas lamp with a flame on the end of a long pole - and then again to turn each gas tap off.... (now superfluous - the fate of most jobs eventually).

An elegant-lookinq mosquito is trying to bite me but I stay a few more minutes to look at this city that I know so well but seldom see as a single entity, and from without...

...millions of rooms, containing millions of people, few of whom I would want to live with, yet I like their collective presence. I imagine that a time will come when most people will see each other as friends not strangers - and will not live predominantly in small groups of blood relations, or working colleagues, or ethnic groups and such - no longer divided artificially into working class or exploiters - for we all exploit and and are all exploited... I think that word needs changing - we all give and we all receive, do we not? Compulsion and repression come when work is organised and sub-divided - that is the mistake.

On the train back a man was begging from the passengers. A passenger asked why he did not work but refused to accept the answer. You're all just parasites, he kept declaring angrily. I didn't join in the argument but I feel sure that parasite is a wrong description of begging. Surely we in the rich countries are all parasites of the sun, and of plants and animals, and of people in poor countries - and besides, begging, or mendicancy, is an honourable way of living. The upper classes have never done physical work to keep others. It's not the upper, middle or lower classes who keep beggers and others - it's the energies of nature that keep us all going - and which we all exploit. What we do as paid jobs is not what provides the wealth, the physical energy, to keep everyone alive!

I do not know a single person who seems to believe this - but to me it is certain!... I guess this is why I am so alone. 'A man who is alone and waiting' - that's how someone described me in Argentina - where I was more warmly received than anywhere else.

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