Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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El Pip

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Ahh the existential horror of nightshifts. Initially nights are the greatest of all shifts, being out of sync with most of the nation and seeing things from a wildly different perspective is enjoyable, to say nothing off the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing your work just as others are starting their working day. I only ever did 5 nights on at most in one go, but by the end of that week your body was very keen to indicate it's displeasure at being so disrupted. Doing it full time would be quite grim I imagine.

David’s father worked on the railways. Every evening, in the time between having his tea and going to bed, he would read: the social realists, like Hanley, Greenwood and Ethel Holdsworth; the Modernists, like Joyce, Woolf and Dos Passos; work in translation, even: Zola, Sartre, Oyarzabal
David's father is masochistic to an incredible extent. I was going to say "beyond belief", but I can well belief there were/are some people who would read such things voluntarily. Not for fun obviously, I can't imagine a sense of fun would survive that reading list, but definitely as a deliberate and unforced choice.

Lubetkin-influenced Modernism
This would be fine. Not completely to my tastes, but I can recognise the intent and skill when it is done well.
I reckon what may well happen would be a building in a post-Morrisonian Lutyens-esque Arts and Crafts style.
As long as post-Morrisonian means "everyone has realised Morris is a sociopath and his ideas are evil", this would also be fine.


I confess the Moonraker reasoning passed me by. I've smugglers slang and a 50s Royalist swashbuckler for meanings outside Flemmings book, so I am quite obviously missing something.
 

Wraith11B

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Speaking as one who is on the midnight shift currently, it certainly is tough, especially since it's so damn cold out these days... I am loathe to dismount my truck to walk around and wake up but also don't want to just sit for hours.
 

DensleyBlair

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Ahh the existential horror of nightshifts. Initially nights are the greatest of all shifts, being out of sync with most of the nation and seeing things from a wildly different perspective is enjoyable, to say nothing off the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing your work just as others are starting their working day. I only ever did 5 nights on at most in one go, but by the end of that week your body was very keen to indicate it's displeasure at being so disrupted. Doing it full time would be quite grim I imagine.

The closest I've come has been during various depressive spells when I've ended up borderline nocturnal. At uni I used to quite like moping round the streets at night with my headphones on just watching the night go by, but the daylight hours are no fun. When all of my friends were going to bed at midnight and I knew I'd still be up for another four hours with nothing to amuse myself, that was quite trying after a while.

Incidentally, the David character in this piece was taken almost wholesale from Eric Rohmer's La femme de l'aviateur, which does fun things with the night shift conceit.

David's father is masochistic to an incredible extent. I was going to say "beyond belief", but I can well belief there were/are some people who would read such things voluntarily. Not for fun obviously, I can't imagine a sense of fun would survive that reading list, but definitely as a deliberate and unforced choice.

It is all quite heavy isn't it. Joyce is pretty fun, at least.

As long as post-Morrisonian means "everyone has realised Morris is a sociopath and his ideas are evil", this would also be fine.

Morris was an excellent designer of wallpaper and had some nice ideas about building houses for the super-rich, but his was not exactly a good model to follow. So yes, in this case "post-Morrisonian" would mean "we'll take some of the aesthetic principles, but let's cut out that cod-mediaevalist Romantic crap about the dignity of labour".

I confess the Moonraker reasoning passed me by. I've smugglers slang and a 50s Royalist swashbuckler for meanings outside Flemmings book, so I am quite obviously missing something.

It probably does not help that I have been incredibly vague about what the film actually involves – in large part because I thought grafting a synopsis into the middle of the piece would have been really boring, both to write and to read.

As I see it, there is an analogy between the smuggler story and Sturm's attempts at profiteering, the moon being used in both cases as a convenient cover for illicit activity. Digby probably makes this comparison to Mimi at some point to make himself sound cultured and intelligent.

Speaking as one who is on the midnight shift currently, it certainly is tough, especially since it's so damn cold out these days... I am loathe to dismount my truck to walk around and wake up but also don't want to just sit for hours.

We're just about holding off snow in my part of the world. Damn cold indeed.


Oh, and thank you all for pushing this grande dame into her 50th page. No mean feat for an AAR that draws upon exactly 15 years of gameplay.

In true Pipian fashion I will now hold the next update hostage until it can go safely at the top of page 51 :p
 
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Kienzle

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I enjoyed that a lot, Densely. All too often in these sweeping works of alternate history, one lacks a sense of how the world actually *feels* to inhabit. One of the standout qualities of this AAR is the length you go to to fixing this, whether it be slice of life segments like the last update, or sections from television. Great work.
 
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DensleyBlair

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I enjoyed that a lot, Densely. All too often in these sweeping works of alternate history, one lacks a sense of how the world actually *feels* to inhabit. One of the standout qualities of this AAR is the length you go to to fixing this, whether it be slice of life segments like the last update, or sections from television. Great work.

Thanks, Kienzle! I enjoy the challenge of writing this stuff; there's a good deal of research and thinking to be done before I can decide even what, say, a 1960s social housing living room would look like, so it's a way to keep things interesting on my part as well. Going beyond the standard political histories every now and then is always worthwhile, I find, and I'm glad people enjoy reading it too.
 
Commonwealth 1965: A Day in the Life of John Tennyson

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



COMMONWEALTH 1965

"A Day in the Life of John Tennyson"


Roseanna often had a look in the window of Tom Ninian’s bookshop as she left the cafe, waiting to cross the road and return to her desk in the administrative building of the Nottingham Regional Council. Over the two years she had worked for the council, the sequence had become something akin to a ritual: a sweep of the titles on display in Ninian’s window, then up to the edge of the pavement and – right, then left – two quick glances to check for oncoming trams or buses.

Roseanna was not, as a rule, a superstitious person, but this idiosyncratic routine gave character to her days, and the changing of the book covers was as much a marker of the passing seasons as the colour of the leaves on the trees in the park across the square. She had become so accustomed to her daily pattern of looking that it had slipped out of the realm of conscious action, and on some level she felt that, if she ever crossed the road without carrying out her checks – if she were even able at this point to override what must have been muscle memory – then she would surely step into the road right into the path of an oncoming vehicle!

Nonsense, of course, she reminded herself, realising all at once that her morbid imagination had distracted her from taking in the selection on offer in Ninian’s. Would this count against her, spiritually speaking? Roseanna couldn’t decide. She had never paused to consider whether it was simply the raw act of looking that, theoretically speaking, kept her from meeting her doom halfway across the road, or whether the arrangement, such as it was, required a more active engagement on her part. She decided that she would play it safe and cast her eye back over the window display. Call it insurance, she thought. It was like one of those games children play, where they can’t touch a crack in the pavement for fear of upsetting the spirits: entirely arbitrary and not entirely conscious, but, once noticed, a matter of the highest significance, such that any eccentricity could prove fatal. Next month would be Roseanna’s twenty-fifth birthday. She wondered how many other people her age still indulged these sorts of compulsions.



1970 NOTTINGHAM OLD MARKET.jpg

Old Market Square, Nottingham, c. 1970.
More cars in this picture than there would be in the Commonwealth, and the scene is dominated by the Neo-Baroque Council House, completed in 1929. Work began on the Council House in 1926, when the old Nottingham Exchange was demolished, which means that ITTL the construction process is exactly contemporaneous with the revolutionary period. Whether this would influence the design, I'm not sure. My own view is that any alterations would be practical responses to the reality of building a monument civic building in the middle of a protracted general strike. Hiding behind the frankly absurd portico and under the belfry, which looks more in proportion from the street than it does in elevation, is a fairly reasonable neoclassical building, which with some restraint might be completed under the CPGB regime.​


The books in Ninian’s window did not change very often, mostly every month or so. Only when he received a new blockbuster did he go out of his way to change things up, preferring usually to give a general impression of the sorts of things a passing pedestrian could expect to find in the shop – which was a lot. Tom Ninian himself must have been almost seventy: easily a hanger-on from the Victorian age, Roseanna thought, although she had never actually asked him. Truth was, she hardly ever went into the shop itself. It existed to her as a facade, and only occasionally did she see people inside browsing for books. (Must be the time of day, Roseanna imagined idly.)

Halfway along the top row of books in the window, Roseanna noticed a cover that had not been there the day before. This was not, in itself, unusual. But something about it kept hold of her attention, and for whatever reason she found herself unable to scan across the rest of the display as if this one book was immaterial.

Without thinking, she turned away from the pavement edge and took a half step towards the glass, almost pressing her face up against it to get a better look at the cover that had so captivated her attention. It was not altogether extraordinary: a white jacket with a black and white face, in close up, surrounded by concentric circles in bright colours – as if in the middle of a target, the left eye in the bull position, staring right back at the viewer – at Roseanna herself. Why could she not shake the idea that she knew that face?

It was impossible; no one she knew would have had any business on the cover of a book, much less a book now given pride of place in the window of Ninian’s shop. But the more she looked, the more sure she became that this was a face from her past: someone she had not seen for almost a decade.

She let her focus slip down towards the bottom of the cover, where the title was. It read

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOHN TENNYSON

and then the author’s name:

JOHN BERGER

That was a name Roseanna recognised, from art programmes on the CBC, although the fact that Berger’s was a name she knew only made it odder in her mind that she should recognise the face as well. What would the two have in common? How could they possibly have met? And who was John Tennyson? That was not a name Roseanna knew – and it certainly wasn’t the name that went with the face on the cover.




1965 A DAY IN THE LIFE.jpg

A Day in the Life of John Tennyson. John Berger, 1965.
Points to anyone who can spot the fairly unsubtle source material, as well as the link between it and the Solzhenitsyn.​


From the other end of the square, Roseanna could hear what she knew was the quarter-to-two tram to West Bridgford, travelling via the train station. Fifteen minutes until she had to be back at her desk. Time enough to give the Berger’s book a closer inspection.

Roseanna’s entrance to the bookshop was heralded by the ringing of a small bell above the door, belying the gingerness with which she had decided was necessary for her task. Tom Ninian, eating a sandwich behind the counter, looked up immediately. He finished his mouthful and smiled. He greeted Roseanna with a Good afternoon, and asked how he could help her.

That book in the window, she said, the new one: A Day in the Life of John Tennyson. Can I have a look at a copy?

Oh yes, said Ninian. I thought that one would be popular. Raised a bit of a fuss it has, with the Domestic Bureau as I understand it. If you believe some of the magazines, they tried to stop it from being published – until Lewis intervened, that is.

This Roseanna had not been expecting. She didn’t quite know what to do with the information. Evidently, her face must have reflected this, as, wordlessly, Ninian reached under the counter and retrieved a book, recognisable at once from its white cover. He handed it to Roseanna, who held it out in front of her in both hands, inspecting the portrait on its front as if casting an eye over an ancient artefact newly uncovered.

Now that she had it up close, Roseanna was less certain that the face confronting her was one that she knew. Once, she had read something in a magazine about how the subconscious was unable to make up new faces, so everyone in a dream had to be someone you had seen at some point in your past. Maybe the familiarity of her looking game had tripped a switch somewhere in her subconscious, and her whole expedition into the bookshop had been nothing but the extension of a momentary dream?

Ninian had gone back to his sandwich, content not to hover over Roseanna as she turned the book over to read the synopsis.


John Tennyson was eighteen years old when he was arrested by the secret police on charges of sedition, accused of having taken part in a protest against the government’s nuclear weapons programme. Sentenced to four years imprisonment at an institution for young offenders, John is confronted head-on by the cruelty and the brutality of the Mosley regime – exposed now in print as never before!
Drawing upon the testimonies of real victims of the Mosleyite terror, John Berger’s unforgettable depiction of the life of a political prisoner presents a devastating account of the true cost of Mosleyism.

Roseanna turned over the book again and scrutinised the cover image. Maybe her mind had not been playing tricks? She handed the volume over to Tom Ninian and asked him to run it up on the cash register. As he took Roseanna’s money, he made a remark about getting ahead of the crowds. Roseanna thanked him and exited the shop, her usual routine by now entirely shot to pieces. Outside on the pavement, she looked twice in each direction before crossing the road.



1965 TROLLEYBUS.jpg

A Nottingham trolleybus, c. 1970.
Like other cities in Britain that had tram services before the Second World War, Nottingham moved to a trolleybus system in the post-war years. This is in essence a bus service that draws its power from electric cables over the roads, as with a tram. As far as I can tell (and I wonder if @El Pip may be able to shed more light on the situation) there is no major difference between the two systems other than capacity – trams able to take more people due to their multiple carriages. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that trams and trolleybuses can co-operate within one mixed system, so I see no reason why that can't be the case in the Commonwealth – although I reserve the right to change my mind if I later find out that this would be a redundant, logistical-nightmare-inducing decision to take.​


* * *

On the tram that evening, Roseanna took an empty set of seats halfway down the carriage. She was surprised at how empty it was for home time. Some days it was a choice between standing room only or waiting seven minutes for the next car – hardly a difficult decision, but a necessary one nevertheless. Roseanna wondered whether she had got her timings wrong and slipped onto a later tram instead. Mr. Pickering had kept her back for a minute or two at the end of the day to make a point about formatting on some minutes she had typed up at the last committee meeting. Had that been enough to knock her off kilter?

It didn’t matter. Roseanna was thankful that she would be able to start her new book free from the ambient disturbances of the end of the day crowd: rustling newspapers and clearing throats, and low conversations between older men about football or their wives. She reached into the bag Ninian had given her earlier that afternoon and retrieved the white-covered volume. The portrait on the cover was looking familiar again. Had it just been the atmosphere of the bookshop that had caused her certainty to drop – a heightened sense of occasion bringing her to doubt herself? In her hands now, under the dim electric glow of the car’s interior lighting, the resemblance was so profound as to make her feel crazy for ever having questioned it. It was definitely Ted, encircled by the primary-coloured cockade. Older, certainly, and showing it – but it had been seven years since she had last seen him, and goodness knows he’d been through it in the meantime. But there he was, looking right at her – and she, burning a hole through the page staring right back at him. *




* According to documents currently held in the archives of the Bureau of Domestic Affairs, due to be made available for viewing by the public in January 2008, Edward John Targett (b. March 8 1940) was one of thirty-eight protestors arrested by agents of the Bureau of Domestic Intelligence following an anti-nuclear march in Nottingham on December 29 1957. The BDI made the arrests on charges of sedition, as well as other various charges of conspiracy and public order offences. The thirty-eight protestors, aged between 16 and 28, were collectively tried in camera on January 6 1958. Each was convicted and sentenced to a term of between four and eight years imprisonment.​
Ted Targett served just under five years of a six-year sentence in an institution for young offenders. He was released under a general amnesty of political prisoners in September 1962, almost a full year after the accession of Aneurin Bevan to the premiership.​

(Roseanna, meanwhile, had known Ted in secondary school. They had become very good friends after being sat next to one another in Geography in lower sixth. During the first Christmas vacation after the Windscale fire, Ted had invited Roseanna to join him and some other friends on a march against the government’s nuclear weapons programme. She had agreed, but on the day of the march she woke up with a bad cold and was confined to her bed.
Ted and his friends went ahead without her. The last time Roseanna ever saw him, it had been from her bedroom window as he stood at her front door coming to pick her up. As the tram got within two stops of home, she remembered how she’d heard her mum’s voice coming up through the hallway as she explained that Roseanna has woken up ill. She won’t be able to join you at the library today – that’s where they’d said they were going – but with any luck she’ll be back on her feet tomorrow.
You tell her I say get well soon, won’t you Mrs Kirby? That was the last thing Roseanna would ever hear him say. After her mum had shut the door, Roseanna knocked on her window, catching Ted as he began his walk towards the tram stop. He looked up to see her standing, waving in her nightgown. He laughed and waved back, then the tram came and took him off into the centre of town.
1965 CND.jpg
A march of protestors from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, c. 1958.
As you can see, a crack squad of dissidents more intent upon destroying the state one would be incredibly hard pressed to uncover.​
When the New Year came and Roseanna went back to school, it had been a week since she had heard anything from Ted. He had not come round the day after the march to ask if she wanted to study together. A couple of days later, all trace of her cold having disappeared, Roseanna had called in at Ted’s to find out if he was okay. His mum met her on the doorstep. Ted’s not in, she said. No, she wasn’t sure where he’d gone. She didn’t know when he’d be back.
After a week or so, Roseanna had a new seating partner in Geography. Ted had moved to do his exams at another school, the teacher said, nonsensically, when pressed, her eyes betraying the lack of substance of her lie.
That summer, Roseanna sat her exams. Her marks were good enough to enrol at secretarial college, and after getting her diploma she took a job as a typist, first at the factory where her dad worked making aircraft engines, and then after a couple of years in the Department of Public Health at the Regional Council. That was in 1962.
Ted, throughout all of this, had faded towards absence. In time, Roseanna too had joined the silent, guilty class of people whose lives continued free from the burden of knowledge – suspected but never interrogated – of just what did happen to those who, one day, without warning, moved to sit their exams elsewhere.
Overhead, a bell rang to signal Roseanna’s stop. Outside the light had disappeared. Ted’s picture on the book cover was visible only in the fuzzy orange glow of the carriage light, the eyes jumping out from the stern face framed within its circle. Roseanna took the book and put it neatly back in the bag Tom Ninian had given her, slinging it over her shoulder as she stood up and made her way to the front of the carriage.
Minutes later, on the walk back to her flat, her shopping weighing unusually heavy as she carried it home, it took all of Roseanna’s effort not to cry.)
 
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DensleyBlair

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Here is the long-awaited (?) Solzhenitsyn–Berger fusion update teased the other week after @BigBadBob 's comment about citizen Ivan Denisovich. A good chance to shed a light on the emotional cost of peak Mosleyism, which so far has really only been dealt with in detached political terms.

While I'm here, I would like to make one final appeal to vote in the YAYA's, fi you have not already done so. The voting deadline is this Sunday (aka Valentine's Day for all the lovers in the room), so do hop over to the voting thread and throw your favourite authors a bit of support. (I am obliged to say that sending this support my way is not compulsory, but the BDI beg to differ.)
 
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Most excellent (the story-telling, not the fate of poor Ted).

I'm going to take this opportunity to revive an old 'thing' of mine, partially because you thoroughly deserve it, and partially because the irony of awarding it for this AAR is too good to pass up:


I, Robert, as Sovereign of the Order of the Large and Intimidating Robert, do hereby bestow upon you, @DensleyBlair, the title of Knight of the Order.

Arise, Sir DensleyBlair, OLIR!
 
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Most excellent (the story-telling, not the fate of poor Ted).

I'm going to take this opportunity to revive an old 'thing' of mine, partially because you thoroughly deserve it, and partially because the irony of awarding it for this AAR is too good to pass up:


I, Robert, as Sovereign of the Order of the Large and Intimidating Robert, do hereby bestow upon you, @DensleyBlair, the title of Knight of the Order.

Arise, Sir DensleyBlair, OLIR!
Well, what can I say. Thank you very much, Sir Robert. This is both hilarious and a great honour – and thus the best kind of honour. I will wear my bauble proudly.

(Incidentally, I am reminded rather of Derek Jarman's withering words in his diary on the day that Vivienne Westwood accepted the OBE:

The silly season’s with us: our punk friends accept their little medals of betrayal, sit in their vacuous salons and destroy the creative – like the woodworm in my dresser, which I will paint with insecticide tomorrow.​
Or, as he put it much more succinctly in Jubilee: They all sign up in the end!)
 
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A Day in the Life of John Tennyson. John Berger, 1965.
Points to anyone who can spot the fairly unsubtle source material, as well as the link between it and the Solzhenitsyn.
My Solzhenitsyn knowledge was not up to the task sadly, his most famous work is about as far as I go. However I did cheat and look on wikipedia so I think the answer is;
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

To return to his more famous (to me anyway) work can I suggest a thematic follow up for Comrade Berger? The Grimsby Archipelago, following the sad tale of dissidents being sent to Grimsby, not because there are camps there but because it is Grimsby.

More cars in this picture than there would be in the Commonwealth,
Obvs. Can't have the proles being allowed freedom. Heaven knows what they would do with it!

As far as I can tell (and I wonder if @El Pip may be able to shed more light on the situation) there is no major difference between the two systems other than capacity – trams able to take more people due to their multiple carriages. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that trams and trolleybuses can co-operate within one mixed system, so I see no reason why that can't be the case in the Commonwealth – although I reserve the right to change my mind if I later find out that this would be a redundant, logistical-nightmare-inducing decision to take.
Classically a tram has a single overhead power wire and uses the track as the return current route. Trolleybuses can't do that so have two over-head wires, but are still much cheaper due to not need tracks.

No problem having trams and trolleybuses on the same route, it is a little less safe (for electrical reasons that are far too detailed to bore you with) but I can't imagine the Commonwealth being too upset if the odd young scamp gets electrocuted after climbing up a catenary tower and touching the wrong wire. But long term I reckon the trams are doomed to be replaced by trolleybuses, the bus option is cheaper to buy and cheaper to extend into new places.

A march of protestors from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, c. 1958.As you can see, a crack squad of dissidents more intent upon destroying the state one would be incredibly hard pressed to uncover.
Reckon most of that lot are members of a tiny but ideologically pure communist party. The police just should have left them alone, left to their own devices they'd have splintered into several rival marches who main enemy was not nukes but the other marchers. They'd have been too busy denouncing each other as reactionary traitors to actually protest.

That said they probably were utterly intent on destroying the state. They just weren't very good at it.
 
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My Solzhenitsyn knowledge was not up to the task sadly, his most famous work is about as far as I go. However I did cheat and look on wikipedia so I think the answer is;

I was thinking more specifically in terms of the book cover rather than the content, although on that front you are obviously correct. The key fact which might help would be knowing that Tom Courtenay is the lad pictured, and that the cover is in fact an edited film poster. (The Nottingham setting is also apt.)

To return to his more famous (to me anyway) work can I suggest a thematic follow up for Comrade Berger? The Grimsby Archipelago, following the sad tale of dissidents being sent to Grimsby, not because there are camps there but because it is Grimsby.

Or perhaps a series about the sad state of the camps further down the coast at Skegness? The Butlins Archipelago.

Obvs. Can't have the proles being allowed freedom. Heaven knows what they would do with it!

Puts me very much in mind of André Gorz in 1973: freedom only insofar as you can go the same way as everyone else, and at the same speed!


Classically a tram has a single overhead power wire and uses the track as the return current route. Trolleybuses can't do that so have two over-head wires, but are still much cheaper due to not need tracks.

No problem having trams and trolleybuses on the same route, it is a little less safe (for electrical reasons that are far too detailed to bore you with) but I can't imagine the Commonwealth being too upset if the odd young scamp gets electrocuted after climbing up a catenary tower and touching the wrong wire. But long term I reckon the trams are doomed to be replaced by trolleybuses, the bus option is cheaper to buy and cheaper to extend into new places.

Exactly the sort of clarification I had hoped for, thank you.

(I have half a mind to follow Comrade Sir Robert's example and festoon you with some Order of Merit for services to Commonwealth Engineering. Again, because it would be very funny.)

Reckon most of that lot are members of a tiny but ideologically pure communist party. The police just should have left them alone, left to their own devices they'd have splintered into several rival marches who main enemy was not nukes but the other marchers. They'd have been too busy denouncing each other as reactionary traitors to actually protest.

That said they probably were utterly intent on destroying the state. They just weren't very good at it.

It is a blessed relief that this particular march seems to have proceeded unharassed by bearded men wielding clipboards getting signatures for the SWP…
 
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Puts me very much in mind of André Gorz in 1973: freedom only insofar as you can go the same way as everyone else, and at the same speed!
Dear lord that is a terrifying essay. "it never occurs to you that work, culture, communication, pleasure, satisfaction of needs, and personal life can and should be one and the same thing: a unified life, sustained by the social fabric of the community." What a horrifying idea. I absolutely want distinct places and communities for different parts of my life.

It is as bad as that weird American corporate "Bring your whole self to work" idea, which is the same strange and terrifying impulse conception but from the capitalist side. My 'true whole self' is functionally unemployable in almost any job, it is far too honest and sarcastic. I dial it down for work and that's fair enough, they are paying me to be a professional so I'd better behave that way.

It is a terrible idea no matter who suggests it and they should all just get in the sea.

Also "whose citizens-and especially the schoolchildren-will spend several hours a week growing the fresh produce they need". This is a man who has never done proper agricultural work, doubtless believes he and his mates are exempt from this law (except on warm days when he wants to pick strawberries, winter turnip planting will find him strangely absent) and is almost certainly a sociopath.

(I have half a mind to follow Comrade Sir Robert's example and festoon you with some Order of Merit for services to Commonwealth Engineering. Again, because it would be very funny.)
That would indeed be very funny. :D

It is a blessed relief that this particular march seems to have proceeded unharassed by bearded men wielding clipboards getting signatures for the SWP…
Chap on the left has some sort of bag over his shoulder, it is possible that when they least expect it he will pull out his clipboard and glue on beard and then harass them to sign up to the latest definitely-not-a-front organisation.
 

DensleyBlair

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It is as bad as that weird American corporate "Bring your whole self to work" idea, which is the same strange and terrifying impulse conception but from the capitalist side. My 'true whole self' is functionally unemployable in almost any job, it is far too honest and sarcastic. I dial it down for work and that's fair enough, they are paying me to be a professional so I'd better behave that way.

I admit, it has been about a year since I've read the Gorz essay properly, but considering that he is situated within the post-68 cohort of anti-work Marxists, I am not sure that what he is proposing is exactly the Morrisonian 'dignity of unified labour' shtick whose inverse, as you correctly draw, is the abominable 'bring your whole self' idiocy.

Gorz (I think) is proposing that a reconfiguration of 'automobile space', where discrete zones of life are kept well and truly separate (for productivity's sake), would engender a broader re-imagining of what 'work' is in the first place. Which I am sure you will still disagree with as utopian or whatever (and to be sure, I don't cite it uncritically), but I think it's important to note that he is not coming to the problem from the starting point that work (ie labour under capitalism) is a fundamentally good thing whose 'nobility' would be saved if only the problem of division were overcome.

So in other words, in Gorz's world (again, as I read it) you would not need to dial down your 'true' self in order to inhabit the world of 'professional' work, not because of any faux-goofy tech startup 'let's put a slide in the office' stuff, but because there would no longer be a feeling that sarcasm and honesty were incompatible with the prospect of remaining employed.

Or something like that. :)

That would indeed be very funny. :D

In which case, I would be delight to present you with the ORDER OF MERIT (Third Class), for services rendered to Science, Technology and Engineering in the Commonwealth of Britain.

And I'll even throw in a special ribbon!

ORDER OF MERIT THIRD CLASS.jpg


Chap on the left has some sort of bag over his shoulder, it is possible that when they least expect it he will pull out his clipboard and glue on beard and then harass them to sign up to the latest definitely-not-a-front organisation.

Heaven help us if the entire anti-Mosley coalition just ends up a front for the Stop the War coalition.

(Although given some of the figures I've got lined up waiting in the wings for our Volume 2 cast…)
 
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Not a canonical update, but a quick life one:

I am immensely happy to be able to tell you all that this morning I had my MA application accepted unconditionally. In other works: DB is now a useless goddamn long-haired pinko English student! (Or will be, starting September…)

In time this will no doubt impact the extent to which I am able to devote my energies to this old beast, but that’s a matter for a bit further down the line. (And all the more reason for me to get Volume 1 at least well finished ASAP.) For now, however, it is hard to underestimate the impact that my years on AARland – and this project in particular – have had on convincing me that writing, and writing about writing, is something that I could actually do seriously “in the real world”. I won’t get too sentimental on you all, but this community means a lot and I value my digital relationships with you all.

To celebrate, I do have a foreign-policy update all ready to go moving us on from Cuba – but before that there’s one last vignette I want to get done, and a fun one at that (I hope). So stay tuned, and check out the contents page if you are impatient and want to spoil the surprise. :p

Cheers!
 
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In which case, I would be delight to present you with the ORDER OF MERIT (Third Class), for services rendered to Science, Technology and Engineering in the Commonwealth of Britain.

And I'll even throw in a special ribbon!

View attachment 680879
Well that is wonderful. I am, of course, honoured and delighted to have it bestowed upon me. It shall recieve pride of place in my signature.

Not a canonical update, but a quick life one:

I am immensely happy to be able to tell you all that this morning I had my MA application accepted unconditionally. In other works: DB is now a useless goddamn long-haired pinko English student! (Or will be, starting September…)

In time this will no doubt impact the extent to which I am able to devote my energies to this old beast, but that’s a matter for a bit further down the line. (And all the more reason for me to get Volume 1 at least well finished ASAP.) For now, however, it is hard to underestimate the impact that my years on AARland – and this project in particular – have had on convincing me that writing, and writing about writing, is something that I could actually do seriously “in the real world”. I won’t get too sentimental on you all, but this community means a lot and I value my digital relationships with you all.
Congratulations! (Probably?) I wish you luck in Mastering the Art of English and hope that it does indeed lead to you an enjoyable life in letters.

EDIT: Did you know that hitting Ctrl and return at the same time causes the forum to post the reply? I didn't, which is why this post went off half-cocked and had to be edited.
 
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Well that is wonderful. I am, of course, honoured and delighted to have it bestowed upon me. It shall recieve pride of place in my signature.
May your expertise continue to illuminate the Commonwealth, Comrade!

Congratulations! (Probably?) I wish you luck in Mastering the Art of English and hope that it does indeed lead to you an enjoyable life in letters.
Thank you kindly. No doubt in a year’s time, one million essays and a thesis weighing down in my shoulders, I’ll be a little less breezy. But I am at least keenly anticipating the challenge.

EDIT: Did you know that hitting Ctrl and return at the same time causes the forum to post the reply? I didn't, which is why this post went off half-cocked and had to be edited.
I did not know that, no. Henceforth I will hold it in mind as a trick to help navigate this hellsite / a trap to avoid.
 
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In which case, I would be delight to present you with the ORDER OF MERIT (Third Class), for services rendered to Science, Technology and Engineering in the Commonwealth of Britain.
Third class is a high honour. They usually don't give actual engineers anything above a hand clap.
 
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Thank you kindly. No doubt in a year’s time, one million essays and a thesis weighing down in my shoulders, I’ll be a little less breezy. But I am at least keenly anticipating the challenge.
Given that the coming academic year may be the debauched swinging 20s one, depending on vaccines, you've either made a terrible mistake or an excellent choice...
 
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Third class is a high honour. They usually don't give actual engineers anything above a hand clap.
William Penney did quite well out of the H-bomb, if he counts as an engineer and not a mathematician. Dyson I suppose has also got plenty of baubles. Any more? All of the architects got their gongs for political reasons, Rogers in particular…

Given that the coming academic year may be the debauched swinging 20s one, depending on vaccines, you've either made a terrible mistake or an excellent choice...
This is rather the bet that I've made, yes. At the very least, I will be in London which is where all my uni friends now live anyway, so if everything goes Pete tong I won't be completely adrift…
 
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Not a canonical update, but a quick life one:

I am immensely happy to be able to tell you all that this morning I had my MA application accepted unconditionally. In other works: DB is now a useless goddamn long-haired pinko English student! (Or will be, starting September…)

In time this will no doubt impact the extent to which I am able to devote my energies to this old beast, but that’s a matter for a bit further down the line. (And all the more reason for me to get Volume 1 at least well finished ASAP.) For now, however, it is hard to underestimate the impact that my years on AARland – and this project in particular – have had on convincing me that writing, and writing about writing, is something that I could actually do seriously “in the real world”. I won’t get too sentimental on you all, but this community means a lot and I value my digital relationships with you all.

I'm hopelessly behind on this AAR at the moment (although I am enjoying the story as it unfold), but I want to pop in real quick and say congratulations!
 
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