Community Fair

'Working Towards Community 2.0!'

C3 is facilitated by OfCare, in association with the Home Office, the Department of Training and Education, and the Department of Social Cohesion and Security, with generous sponsorship from Symbiomundia (formerly Grindley & Bundage PLC).

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Well, not personally, Clary, but I hear he’s very well regarded. He won the Booker Prize. I wanted to suggest one for our reading group. I tried to get one from Waterstones but they didn’t have any, believe it or not.


Have you read these Beckett books then? Are they as good as the film? It sounds lovely.

Communal Reality

Of course, reality is a highly provisional affair. A discourse that the Community constructs. But, as a woman, I’m interested in the Lucia character. Mental illness was, of course, poorly understood in those days, before the breakthrough in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and dialogic, communal initiatives. The Community clearly failed this poor woman. Progress is a dubious idea, I know, but I like to think we’ve moved on since those days. I’m sure you here can all bear witness to that.

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An Achiever

Yes, it’s one of the high points of the film. After years of neglect, through his determination and life management, his play is acclaimed all over the world. It’s about two broken men who’ve lost faith in life, God, and themselves, redeemed from their suffering through their shared humanity and humour. It’s a healing experience.


Didn’t he do that play about the tramps? That wasn’t very romantic was it?

The Reality of Baudrillard

Well, what is reality Roxanne? It’s a very sophisticated philosophical question. As Jean Baudrillard shows in the film.

The Reality of the Irish

You think that story’s real Mrs Hart? You think it’s true to the facts, to life? Their life, the war, and everything? How the Irish are so romantic and all?

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Romance of the Irish

Well, it’s been a special weekend, even for those of us not lucky to be Irish. OfTru and Manchester City Council have worked together on the Manchester Irish Festival, affirming and celebrating cultural identity. There’s been films, author events and music. I’ve mentioned before that the blogosphere has opened up reviewing to the ordinary citizen in a fabulously democratic way. I mean we no longer have to listen to the ‘experts’ with their jargon and superior, arrogant ways when we want to learn about films and books and music. The bloggers are doing it for themselves! Everybody can become a ‘citizen journalist’, write their own reviews, without the stuffiness of academia and professional journalism getting in the way. Look at people’s blogs—they’re all talking about the books they’ve read, songs they’ve downloaded, etc. So I thought I’d have a go.

Last night, my partner saw a wonderful new film. We were both deeply moved and I’d like to share our feelings with you as we so often do in this Community. The film was Sam and Lucia, with Rufus Sewell and Kate Winslet. Oh, it was terribly sad. Sewell plays a romantic Irish writer, Sam Beckett, dying alone in Paris, and dwelling on the memory of his one true love. It starts of full of beautiful Irish landscapes, all green, with that lovely wailing wild music in the background. It makes you feel, you know, kind of pagan and one with the misty mountains. There’s a plenitude of vigorous scenes of lively, down-to-earth Dublin life—singing, dancing, drinking (far too much at times—but that’s the Irish for you!), and agreeable flirtations. Young Sam dreams of writing happy comic novels, full of the joys of the simple life. He’s got wild dark gypsyish hair and piercing blue eyes and that charming brogue—really quite ‘dishy’! He travels to Paris to seek his fortune as an assistant to the Grand Old Man of Irish letters, James Joyce. The kindly old humorist acts like an uncle to him and teaches him the mysteries of word craft. Sam falls in love with his beautiful, but frail, daughter Lucia, and she does with him. But war breaks out. There’s a tragic mix-up; they’re separated, she goes mad and kills herself. Sam, deep in sorrow, joins the Resistance and fights for freedom and to try and forget her. You really experience the horrors of fascism. And Sam meets with all the French intellectuals who are defending liberty—like Jean Baudrillard, a hero of mine, actually. We did him at college. Sam becomes a hero, wins the Croix de Guerre and even learns French like a native. But he can never forget Lucia, and he does become a famous writer but the irony is, instead of the happy celebration of Irish joie de vivre that he once aspired to, he can only write sad, deeply tragic, romantic novels, mourning the loss of love. It shows the power of great literature. Becket’s books make us realise that we all share the same deep feelings of love and loss, and yet we all have different identities too—the Irish, the French, women, the mentally ill. And the film has everything—romance, beautiful scenery, even action scenes for the men when Sam’s single-handedly fighting the Nazis. Despite the sadness, I found this a beautiful, life-affirming film that makes us realise that we must triumph over adversity and our inner demons in order to realise our dreams. I would heartily recommend it.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sex and Nature

Dunno. Too much shagging I guess! It just kind of hit me out of the blue. An act of God. Well, Nature.

A Woman's Heart

I feel I could write too. From my heart. Stories of love, and the kind of pain only a woman feels. What about you Roxanne? What’s the story of your cancer? Was it very bad? How did you get it?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


You know, this writing class is quality—got some cool ideas for my fantasy xxxx. I’ll be showing you soon.


Well, we can’t say more can we but yeah. xxxx


Yeah, we’ve met—wow, Clary!


So we’ve met at last. ;-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Education and Peace

Yes, OfTru have been working very closely with OfPax and there have been valuable spin-offs. The programme for monitoring college students has already paid back: we identified some subjects who were over-enthusiastic about certain unacceptable ideas in their classes. And our higher education programme is proving very popular and has engaged the academic community’s research capability and ability to work across fields. We now have courses in Community Safety and Security at all levels, from NVQ to postgraduate academic degrees. Homeland security and emergency planning, emergency response courses in public health curricula—all this has emerged out of research devoted to winning the War on Disorder.

It’s interdisciplinary—anthropology students, for instance, can engage in this discipline at home or abroad among problematic or failing cultures, and their research can provide us with valuable logistical intelligence in the battle for hearts and minds, and an understanding of the origins of militant antisociality. We need people who speak the languages and are familiar with critical cultures—and these days those critical cultures can be found on our own doorstep—on estates as well as in the war-torn landscapes of the east.

And this research programme in the universities (which we liken to the Manhattan Project) has benefited in many spin-offs for industry in such growth areas as business continuity planning in industry and risk assessment. This assists companies that want to increase their sense of security amongst their workforce and protect them from terrorism, not to mention bullying and all the other twenty-first century risks we face.

War Baby

Me too. Made my life, give me education, all from War. Must tell stories Clary. Make you well. How we are.

A very productive campaign

I’d like to add to Ms Hart’s remarks here. The war has also been extremely productive for science, knowledge, and education, as has the whole War on Disorder, whether domestic or abroad, bringing fresh ideas and much needed funds into universities; my own research at the Centre has, of course, benefited enormously.

The Sound of Music

We do welcome such enthusiasm over the writing classes! This interest in writing is community art at its best—art that serves the community, rather than the elitist posture of using taxpayers’ money just to offend people or groups. And as an extra incen-tive, I’d like to announce that the best writing will be published alongside a forthcoming exhibition of outsider art in Manches-ter. This is all part of a grand festival of Public Art we’re organizing that’s promoting the values of Britishness against our de-tractors. Among other exciting things, there’s the new version of The Sound of Music, sponsored by OfTru as part of the cam-paign to counter the growth of extremism in minority communities. It’s a huge singalong, Bollywood-style extravaganza, set in Afghanistan with the Taliban banning music and a family of singers escaping to the musical West and freedom.


Oh come on Clary! You know it’ll be better if you meet people, talk to people. Like Mrs Douce says about dialogue. Use all those skills and your love of words. We’re all struggling, we’re all encaged. You can go on.


Can’t come, can’t move, can’t speak, can’t. God, feel like a caged bird. It’s tired and breathless, it lays itself down and pants at the bottom of the cage.

The War for Freedom: Silver Lining

I’m surprised there are still some doubts after Mr Cohen’s marvellous contribution to the debate. And really, Tristram, every cloud has a silver lining. Terrible sacrifices are made in war, but it’s not all gloom—there’s been some benefits, the first being, of course, the light of hope we’ve brought to so many people. Democracy, freedom, prosperity—especially for women.

Anything, Everything

God, if you got me writing there’d be no holding it back, there’s too much feeling. About my life, about men, and poverty, pain and laughs I’ve had—cancer, I suppose. You’re always seeing these memoirs about people with fatal diseases. Maybe not. And anger—what’s done to you. Manchester Council and its holier-than-thou Asbos against women earning a living, walking the street, doing what they can to get by—I’d write about that if they’d let me. But always, always, my beautiful daughter. Her eyes, her laughter, her pure skin. Anyway. I’ll try. See you all tomorrow, then, Clary, everybody.

Poetry and Peace

Yeah, I’m going to write some poetry for peace. I don’t feel so alone when I write. And maybe beautiful words can persuade people to lay down their arms. Everybody who supports the war just uses a kind of language that’s ugly as well as dishonest. But I think everybody deep down responds to beauty in their hearts. What are you going to write Roxanne?

Writing better than Nothingness

Ok. Let’s all do this writing thing, go along with the monkey tomorrow. Nothing better to do.


Yeah, me too. Don’t know what I’d write though. An adventure, a mad escapade, something from my own life—but not mindless, though I’ve been a bit of a fucking rogue. Like I’d like to have something important to say. Don’t know what though.

Making Words

You know, I quite fancy this writing class. At least we can all meet up. And I can work out things—not with this Anger Management bollocks and sharing stuff, but in my own way, fitting my own words together. Not having words twisted for me. I know what I know, I know what I’ve experienced. So, I could write things about life—my life, working life, history and that. And seeing at as like an engineering project, taking pride in the connecting of things if you see what I mean. And get my pride back through my own voice, not being talked down to and swamped with stuff.

Natural Wealth

Yes, we don’t talk much about ‘socialism’—it sounds old-fashioned. Comical men in flat caps, beer and sandwiches, that sort of thing. We’re modernizers. But we’re as committed to helping the deserving poor as ever. If you prefer, call it socialism, but a socialism that unites us nationally rather than dividing us by class. The politics of envy is over; the politics of community has finally begun.

Don’s shared his experience with us before about the Marxists of old. These fanatics used to divide us all into ‘working-class’, and ‘bourgeois’, as they called it (that means the middle classes). They’d use all sorts of fancy-sounding jargon that ordinary people couldn’t understand, like ‘exchange value’, ‘dialectics’, ‘commodity fetishism’—yes, I know it sounds horrible! A bit like those modern artists who try and fool you into thinking they’re cleverer than you—and make a lot of money out of it, thank you very much! And a lot of people got hurt. These so-called ‘intellectuals’ simply promote their own vanity at the expense of ordinary people like you and I.

Now we’ve mostly got over that sort of nonsense. People are far more concerned about their real identities than some sort of spurious nonsense about class, though this has, as we all know, led to a different kind of extremism and the threats we currently face. Yet some of the old rhetoric of class remains; some of the old wreckers are still around, stirring up discontent and impossible dreams. I’m not just thinking of the tired old Trots and Stalinists, propping up the homophobic, wife-beating fascists on the ‘peace’ marches. Take the recent strikes by the fire brigade, Metrolink drivers, and so on, happily now pacified. That prehistoric sort of industrial action is actually action against the customers in a service industry—that is, yourselves. But, further, it is in times like ours potentially treasonous. Happily, we’re applying the lessons we’ve learned in the War on Terror to the wider war on all behaviour that threatens social order. Hence, legislation is being drawn up to tackle such antisocial behaviour as withdrawing labour in services that are essential to the community, supporting strikers in unconnected enterprises, causing a public nuisance by demonstrating in a disturbing manner or manner likely to cause offence against the will of the community. The new laws will enable direct control of essential public services by OfCare, with encouragement from OfPax, when dealing with recalcitrant and antisocial workers in this sector, who still cling to the dinosaur politics of envy.

And Rob, you seem to be resurrecting the old cliché that labour is the source of profits. It’s based on a complete misunderstanding of the word ‘exploitation’, which I use in an entirely benevolent sense. Your labour is not the source of wealth. Nature is the source of all wealth, and all the stakeholders of an enterprise—from the lowliest labourer to the larger shareholders—are involved in communally extracting that wealth. I really think, for your own sake, you’d be wise to participate in those Anger Management classes again.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Class: A Binary Opposition

Well Rob, we’re very wary of these binary oppositions like boss/worker and we try to what we call ‘deconstruct’ them. That means showing that they’re not really opposites and that we’re all on the same side. We’re all workers, all working to make a wealthier, safer Britain As Nick Cohen and Ms Hart have suggested, there really isn’t a class system in Britain anymore. Thinking of people as your ‘class enemy’ leads to classism—a kind of hate speech. It perpetuates those divisions that have sadly led so many of our young men to violence.

Thinking on my own

I’ve just been thinking, Roxanne, that’s all. Anyway, I’m not really one for all this talking and sharing. I found myself getting angry about being jobless—useless really—you can’t do anything about it. So we do Anger Management and I thought it really helped at first. Supposed to use the blog to help sort my feelings out so when we have the Talking in Groups sessions I can really start to communicate better. But no they’re wrong, I decided. I still feel what I always felt, what we all felt. There’s us and them, boss and worker and you knew which side you were on. You can’t talk that out of someone.

Hi Rob

Where’ve you been Rob anyway? Not heard from you for days! You OK?


Yes, but it’s never a positive sense. Exploit says it all. That’s where wealth comes from—the likes of me and Joseph. It’s his idea after all and who’d be building the machinery? But I don’t see your OfWealth handing it out to the people that make it. And what you were saying before Joseph about where you used to work—that’s exploitation. And this time theft—did you find out what was going on there?

Social Entrepreneurs and Wealth Creation

Now, now, Dr Feramor, let’s not quarrel! I do quite agree with Dr Feramor in one respect. This is a fine example of Knowledge Management in action. We’re using the sharing of ideas on the blog to harness the creative energies of the community. Someone once said that Universities are the coalmines of the twenty-first century; our Community is like a university in miniature, with its freedom to develop new ideas of the calibre of Joseph’s. In keeping with your wonderful northern traditions, we might say that the Centre is a cotton mill for the twenty-first century. And our sister agency, OfWealth, as well as supervising the flow of money and its legality, is charged with promoting the creation of wealth so that the whole community will benefit. They would indeed happily finance such innovative projects. This is a prime example of how the four superagencies increase efficiency by re-engineering services so that complex problems can be dealt with in an integrated and joined-up way, bypassing bureaucracy and crossing inter-agency boundaries. So, in addition to OfWealth, we have OfCare—that’s us!—promoting Health, Law, and Order (since social and physical health increasingly overlap); OfTru—promoting our shared values and philosophy through the education system and media, here and abroad; and OfPax, responsible for protecting Western values through humane intervention and fighting terrorism and antisocial behaviour internationally. And there’s Symbiomundia, too: they’re a keen sponsor of social entrepreneurship and are always on the lookout for bright ideas they can exploit—I mean that in the positive sense, of course!

Nature and Human Beings

Yeah, sure nature can be beautiful, I’ve got a heart Clary! I’ll show you in my story. But it’s only beautiful cos we’re there to see it isn’t it? And only when it’s safe—like if you’re homeless, stuck out on the moors like outside when it’s wintertime like some abandoned baby birds then some fox gets you—that isn’t so beautiful is it? So you need to build decent homes and that. I can’t explain what I mean. Need to practice with words.


You do seem to have an extraordinarily inventive mind, Joseph—possibly a side-effect of your condition, which must bestow some evolutionary advantage for the genes to have persisted. We feel that the Centre, as a major social entrepreneur, may be of assistance in reaping the benefits of your creativity. We’ve already been able to harness your IT skills, as you know, but your shoelace project sounds very promising too. We do liaise with OfWealth over such things, harnessing the collective intelligence of the blogosphere—what Ms Hart calls ‘Knowledge Management’ I believe. I’m afraid I am very much on the side of human progress in this respect; I have to differ very strongly with Dr Douce over this, finding her stance to be unscientific irrationalism of the very worst sort. At the risk of being contentious, I would call it mindless tosh.

Natural Beauty

God, you’re so clever Joseph! You have some really cool ideas—where do they come from? But don’t you worry about nature or feel its beauty? You can’t just have humans being arrogant and doing that Light thing of raping Nature, can you? You always have to think of the effects of anything you invent.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Writing Cool

What about we put things together for worlds? We can create words. When I get to that typing class?

Sounds cool

That’s just what I do with programming computers! I can create worlds just by typing commands, it’s like you’re a wizard casting spells and ruling over natural forces.

Popular Mechanics

I know what you mean. In my day it was Meccano. You had all these gears and pulleys, strips of metal, and nuts and bolts, and you could build any machine that was in your imagination, just linking the parts together. That’s how I got into making things. When you make things and you begin to get the science of it all, it gives you hope, spurs on your imagination. But course there’s still class. That’s why there’s people who make things and people who live off them.

More Light

I think technology can solve everything—why’s everybody so hung up about it? Enough bright people could think up ways of getting more energy—there’s not enough brightness ;-). You can use your brain to solve the tiniest things. Like I have problems with my shoelaces—it’s a visual-spatial thing, part of my condition. But you shouldn’t have to keep bending down doing Boy Scout things—it’s the 21st century!! You could have like electromagnets, and then just text your shoes from your moby and they’d do up by themselves. And I think like I had Lego as a kid. Why can’t they make houses out of life-size Lego bricks? They’d stick together so much better and they’d be cheaper and quicker to build and no-one would be homeless. And we could end the War.

The Dark Stain of Enlightenment

Wonderful, stirring stuff from Nick’s talk yesterday. However, I do think that Nick writes overmuch about ‘Enlightenment’ values when they’re actually the cause of the problem. Fascism, in its many faces of Nazism, wife beating and animal experiments, Islamism, Rastafarianism, technological destruction of the biosphere—is the product of these values. For those of you who don’t know what we mean by talk of the ‘Enlightenment’ I’ll explain.

It all started in the 18th century with Sir Francis Bacon, who talked of science as the rape of nature, unveiling her and shining a big bright light on her poor naked features. He spoke of this approvingly, would you believe it!—and this set off the whole big mistaken crazy path to modern life. They call it the Enlightenment but it’s not to be confused with the Enlightenment of, say, Buddhism—an inner revelation. Ironically, it’s a huge shadow over history, a period of darkness through industrialisation, insane ‘rationalism’, consumerism, slavery, individualism, and pollution, ending in the death camps, battery farms, and shopping malls of the present day. Poet and mystic, Romantic William Blake, called it the ‘dark Satanic mills’—I’m sure you’ve heard those famous, poignantly angry lines about his beloved Jerusalem—that’s ‘England’s green and pleasant fields’, by the way.

And now those overcrowded green fields are threatened by permanent darkness. As the winds run down, rendered breathless by turbines, so scientists have found evidence of global darkening from the growing use of solar power, which is sapping the sun’s rays. Ironically, this stems from our greedy addiction to energy consumption. In some ways, we’re demanding too much light. You only have to look at the way we live now, with advertising blazing away throughout the night and giant illuminated Tescos catering to our false desires. Families, no longer bound by the cycles of nature, stay up all night with the cold flicker of the TV or video game flashing through their windows. We live in an age of light pollution where we can no longer look up at the stars for guidance. There is too much illumination. I firmly believe there is no alternative but to end the madness of development altogether—no technology is safe. Mother Earth cries out in pain with every act of human hubris, blinded by the light.