bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Free Tribet!

Dear Rachel,

I thought Tibet was one of the Wombles until China invaded it. Subsequently finding myself trading next to the Free Tibet marquee at WOMAD in 2005, I decided to test the mettle of the middle class petition-signer by stating that all t shirts – our main line at the time – were a tenner, but if you wanted to pay more I’d give the extra to Tibet, whereas if you wanted to pay less, I would make up the difference and give it to China. In the end, Tibet won by something like £255 to £17, which was a huge victory for those concerned about human rights in Tibet but not, curiously enough, in China.  I also discovered that the people staffing the Free Tibet tent never tire of correcting you if you call it ‘Tribet’, which I did for the duration of the weekend.   They just say ‘Actually, it’s TI-bet’, while smiling nicely, over and over again, in the kind of ‘there, there’ manner more usually associated with a nursery school teacher attending a soiled and weeping infant.   Eventually, I whipped them up some ‘Free Tibet – It Won’t Free Itself!’ t shirts, which I should imagine are collectors’ items and worth thousands of pounds each by now.

I carried out this experiment again recently during the large protest march in London which seemed to be about everything, although was primarily concerned with Government cuts interfering with the excellent work that the public sector tell us that the public sector does.   There were several people wandering through Greenwich on the way over the river to join the various demonstrations, and a great many of them had banners and such about obliging businesses to avoid paying UK tax.   As a business that avoids paying UK tax myself, I offered our lavish range of aprons at either £12 (at which price I wouldn’t pay tax) or £14 (at which price I would).    Suffice to say, if Vodaphone adopted a similar strategy, I think they’d find that an awful lot of opposition to their entirely legal business practices would quietly go away.

Anyway.   Over the course of the day, I started to form a theory that the protest would achieve nothing, simply because everyone concerned will act in the manner that they always do: protesting is more or less a middle class hobby, and a strata of society that essentially emasculates itself is hardly likely to bring about any change to anything.    There is, after all, only so radical that a quarter of a million people claiming to be the moral conscience of the nation are likely to be.    A couple of thousand marchers kicked it off later in the evening and set fire to some bins or something, because that is what that couple of thousand people always do.    It would be like being surprised to find Echo and the Bunnymen three quarters of the way down almost every festival line up anywhere in the world, because that is where Echo and the Bunnymen live.   If the quarter of a million retweeters and Facebook group joiners had kicked it off and rioted all over the place, the government would be on its knees and granting pretty much anything asked of it by now, but they won’t, because standing in line and being a bit cross in the face of things that they know to be awful and far reaching is what they always do, too.

The middle classes are awesome, of course, and if your society doesn’t have one, your society isn’t worth living in.    To have no middle class at all would be to live in the most horrendous of all medieval nightmares.   I suppose it’s because in contemporary British society they are the only class left of any note – there is no coherent working class or credible upper class to keep everything in check, and so they’ve to a very large extent tended to believe their own righteous worthiness.    If they could just stop being so pleased with themselves occasionally and have some balls now and again – there must be some kind of hire scheme, whereby they could be stamped like a library book and handed back after ten days – we’d all be a great deal happier I’m sure.



Photards: Our Overlord 6 mainframe laptop computer with massive reel to reel tape spools going a little bit one way and then a little bit back the other like in I dunno Blake’s 7 or whatever is working again, so this weeks frolic through the photographic arts is:

Top: Excellent rain guard deployed by Martin in a vain attempt to stop several hundred thousand gallons of water hurling themselves out of the sky about London NW1 and onto our stock.    I used to dry damp stock by putting the wrong light bulbs into my half of the light sockets so that they heated up quite excitingly, and then hanging t shirts over them.

Middle: An Italian greyhound at Camden Lock.   He rode that bike in himself, as public transport does his head in.

Lower: Fag Ash John talking to Martin, East Yard Camden Lock.    I reckon this is about June/July 2008.   Look how old skool Martin and I’s old pitch is!  If you look closely you’ll notice a rare ‘Orderly Behaviour! At The Disco’ long sleeved military shirt, just about Martin’s head.    I think we only made five of them.   Incidentally, John isn’t known as ‘Fag Ash’ because of the amount he smokes (although he does smoke a lot) – it’s because he once battered someone to death with an onyx ashtray.


  1. stevie

    Apr 7th, 2011
    3:06 pm

    I think you may have hit two birds with one stone with your excellent testicle-hire suggestion. This is just what the library service needs to give it a new relevance to counter those calling for libraries to bear the brunt of austerity measures. I think your suggested turnaround of ten days may need to be revised though, given the number of book clubs/pressure group meetings/orange Wednesdays) that now punctuate our busy social lives. A good starting point might be one of those online petitions, which are guaranteed a mention in parliament, if the number of petitioners goes over a million.

  2. Paul

    Apr 7th, 2011
    3:40 pm

    You know that Twitter joke trial thing? I signed an online petition for that, and I gave him £8 towards his legal fees, and he didn’t even follow me back on Twitter itself. That’s me done with democracy. I hope he gets locked up for a very long time.

  3. stevie

    Apr 7th, 2011
    9:49 pm

    I can fully apprecitate your disappointment with democracy, but it’s the taking part that counts.

  4. Paul

    Apr 8th, 2011
    9:57 am

    I dunno. Perhaps if we all ignore it, it’ll just go away.

Leave a Comment