Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Temporary School of Thought - the Mayfair squat 2009

This is yet another example of how so many of the fun things I hear about 'off the internet' come from Ben Goldacre's mini-blog - I should really update the list ;). Two years ago, Ben posted something about a kind of school opening up within a squat in Mayfair. The Temporary School of Thought (TSoT) had a nice website, some positive media interest from my favourite media and a schedule of interesting events. It looked fun.

One of the events was on a Sunday evening (January 2009) - a showing of the film Kind Hearts & Coronets which I went along to with my friend from work. We met for pizza in Shepherd's Market and then, in keeping with the location, went to get some provisions from Fortnum and Mason to share with the squat (it was around Burns' night so we left them a couple of haggises and some wine) and headed over to 39 Clarges Mews to have a bit of a wander round the property before the film began.

It was one of those perfect evenings and I wish I could have spent longer there. The building was lovely, everyone we met was good-natured and friendly (it was never entirely clear to me who was living there and who was a visitor) and there was an eerie gloom over some of the rooms as we were there in the evening and working light fittings were a little sparse. Everyone seemed to be taking photos and having to switch on mobile phones or torches to get enough light, temporarily bathing everything in a slightly lesser gloom. I got chatting to some people while standing next to the main front door and my friend, a little braver than me, went off for further exploration.

We'd remembered to bring torches which were useful in some of the less well-lit areas - the last thing I wanted to do was trip over and break something. The previous event was running a little late and I wondered if my friend would be able to stay for the film as he needed to travel further out home than me and his trains are frankly lightweights and stop early. But about an hour after we arrived we were ushered into the cinema room which was well lit and someone had a laptop and projector set up (this is my kind of squat!) - and the film was great. I was sorry when it came to an end. You can see a picture of the room we were in here, on Dougald Hine's blog. It was like being in one of those old Stella Artois adverts (or whichever company it is that sponsors the Sunday night film) where they show some rural village getting together to watch a film being projected onto a wall or something.

I'd previously signed up to the group's email mailing list and have received one or two emails from them in the last two years. The week before last a couple of new emails appeared announcing that a new school was opening up - The Really Free School (RFS) at 5 Bloomsbury Square. Yippee!

When the first email came in I Googled, nostalgically, for information about the TSoT and one of the people I (micro-briefly) met there who was definitely a resident - he hosted the film on the night I was there, and went by the name Lucky Jimm. And that's how I discovered his blog which I've been reading all week and tweeting excerpts from.

I've already waxed lyrical about his blog when I originally posted a quick email to Posterous about the new Really Free School. In an equivalent of discovering a book that you just can't put down, since coming across his blog I've been hooked, beguiled, ensorcelled (feel free to throw the thesaurus at this, as one word won't do) by the writing and can only hope he gets a shift on and writes a book. I usually read blogs because I'm interested in the topic and nice writing is a pleasant bonus. In this case the topics (squatting, gambling, cycling and drinking) aren't of particular interest to me but the (often poignant) mix of humour, angst, frankness and occasional whimsy has meant that I've found the blog electronically unputdownable. (The blog itself covers several years, the episode on the Mayfair school is just a small part of it, lasting a few weeks).

Reading Jimm's blog about the TSoT gave a lot of really interesting background information about the school and the people behind it - I wish I'd found the blog sooner after the event. I didn't find any blogs written by the other squatmates but if anyone knows of them I'd love to read them too.

I'm not quite sure what overlap there is between the TSoT and the Really Free School, but I loved my visit to TSoT and wanted to see what RFS was about - and the next post will be about my visit to the Bloomsbury school.

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1 comment:

  1. LJ's blog has moved around on the poker forum that it's now hosted on, one of his posts is here http://www.gutshot.com/forum/entry.php/711-First-Love-Last-Rites

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