Laying Down Tracks

Green, Niall and I are bringing the walls down. It’s 1978 and we’ve been rehearsing a song called “Pressing Plants” upstairs in our rehearsal room. But I’m not talking about the walls of the music industry. I’m not talking about demolishing the big labels’ grip on pop culture.

It’s Sunday and we’re taking down a wall in our squat in Camden Town. There’s a big yellow skip across the road and it’s empty. They’re renovating the pub and we reckon they won’t mind if we add a few discreet bricks. We’re all in this together right? Wrong.

Nine o’clock Monday morning there’s three policemen here at the door.

“Been doing a bit of building work have we sir?”

It could have been anyone, the whole of Carol Street is squatted. Then I see why they came to our house first. Disney could not have done a better job of painting cartoon wheelbarrow tracks from our front door to the, admittedly, bulging skip.

“Well, we were all doing it officer, you see we’re a collective and there’s no real…”

“But you were the coordinator were you sir?”

“Well, I guess when it comes to practical things I do tend to… I mean I did a lot of sculpture at Art School and Green was more into lithography and printing. More wordy. I’m more of a maker… “

“No!” yells Julie who has just emerged, blinking into the newly spacious doorway.

We’re all VERY hungover. Niall has arrived too, rolling a ciggie. He knows all about the law.

“They just want someone to arrest. A name.” Julie explains to me calmly, as if they aren’t there. Niall nods, eyes watering as he take his first drag.

“We’re a socialist collective and we make democratic decisions”, he chips in, followed by a coughing fit from the bottom of a well. “To each according to their need and from each according to their ability”.

“That’s right officer” I say. “And as all my elder brothers all are in the furniture business, when it comes to ability, I’m used to shifting quite awkward loads…”

“Shut up Tom!” rumbles Julie.

“You mentioned they’d accept twenty pounds in compensation officer? Here it is, please give it to them with our thanks for being so understanding,” she says like a hotel receptionist.

Across the road, through the hangover blur, we see the construction crew raising imaginary bottles of beer as they see the cash being handed over.

“But you sir, with your family expertise, you say you were the ringleader, is that correct?”

Niall begins to close the door while Green arrives holding a kettle, ending this episode with a parting shot to the London Constabulary.

“Ringleader? Don’t make me laugh mate, he’s just a drummer.”

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