Wednesday, 4 March 2009

2009 - sad times

I still can’t actually believe it.
Even with us scattered around Peckham, all Spike’s stuff in skips.

Fil (ItIsTv) and I have been working hard editing all the footage to make this Spike history documentary. 2 years in the making (or 160 years!) and now the race is on. I’m in limbo until it’s done.

December continued to be heart wrenching. The court case had well and truly dampened the vibe. Things were getting packed up.

Everyone dealt with it differently. Some just had to get on with it… often fighting back tears. Others felt to carry on ‘business as usual’ – though it was far from a merry Christmas. Bless the eternal optimists and the accepting realists… we couldn’t have got through it without each other.

As mirrors and paintings were being taken down, paint was frantically slapped on, covering up the blank patches. As greenhouses were being dismantled they were rapidly replaced by benches and plant pots. The workshop was cleared of good materials worth storing and transformed into an art space, primarily for banner making.

The hall continued on as a rehearsal space with the recording equipment away in storage. Sanford Housing Coop were practicing for their performance of King Lear right through January. The show at the end of the month was fantastic. The place was rammed and everyone loved it.

Martial arts and Chi gong continued right through to the end in the dojo. I only noticed how fantastic the acoustics are in there the last day I was in packing up stuff. What came out of me sounded like plainsong. I imagined the nuns telling us it was all ok.

In January we had a couple of demos down at the Townhall… people were feeling desperate.. desperate to make the Council see what they were about to rid. They were very colourful but got us nowhere. Mark had spoken to a Councillor walking through us to the doors. He’d said it was the Council’s responsibility to sell it for the most money. Mark told him he was a crook.

We had a few good events at Spike but the regular noisy helicopters overhead were a bad omen and on 12th February (so nearly Friday 13th), whilst there were only 2 people onsite, 30 odd coppers and bailiffs and big dogs stormed the place. No warning. 6.30am.

The Council had apparently been to the High Court behind our backs on 22nd January and got permission.

30 or so of us were left on the wrong side of the gates watching them lording over the place and going through our stuff. A load of community wardens stood around in there looking pointless for ages.

Then the head of Southwark’s property department came out with his crony’s. We followed them to their car spewing insults after them. What else could we do? They’d kicked us out of our home.

We hugged, cried and shouted outside those gates. We sang songs. What else to do. It was all so wrong.

Eventually they decided we could go in to get some of our stuff when we were no longer looking like a threat. I had cops watching me collect up clean underwear, my guitar and sleeping bag.

We were allocated days over the next fortnight to collect our things. The security could see what was going on, what was being stripped. They said they could see it was all wrong but that they had to do their job. They’d occasionally throw arm like toys for their dogs to savage.

We had a last supper at Spike whilst they were in the yard. It was strange. There were the remains of meat dinners in the kitchen now. The washing up hadn’t been done. There were new caretakers in there. I tried staying on top of the tidying up for a while but everyone said I was going mad and to leave it as there were more urgent things to be done. I took the compost out.

We put out pleas for people to collect stuff that was otherwise now destined for the skips. I was there the day the tinkers came in with their vast skips and big tools to clear the place. They were sweet enough… asking if I wanted to keep this or that. It took them 4 days. It’s a sorry sight.

It was painful to be locked out of my friends house for 4 hours where I was meant to be kipping on the sofa. 11pm on a Sunday night. No battery left on my phone so I cycled round a few places locally. But no-one was in, or they were asleep. I ended up at the Spike gates… peeked through to see my caravan.. a bed in my cave but trapped 10 metres from it. O Spike. This can’t be it.

See, we’ve actually been saying for ages we needed a real sort out. Get away all the things that were always to be waiting to be fixed. Redesign the space. Start on self builds to house caretakers properly… we needed to get some space in the yard.

So I remain optimistic. I can’t let go yet. I love you Spike from the bottom of my heart.
Everything will be OK. We’ll see you again.

Sanford’s ‘King Lear’ at Spike
Sanford's 'King Lear' at Spike
Spike at Loggerheads with the Council
Spike at Loggerheads with the Council
Spike Fox pays the Council a Visit
Spike fox pays a visit to the Council
Eviction Day
Eviction day