Thursday, 15 November 2012

Financial Times gig and a dangerous squat

Occupy squatters at the Cross Keys, a boarded-up pub in Chelsea, have just been thrown out by a criminal gang with knives who hold raves in squats and don’t read my blog, or they’d know that bailiffs are due any day. Two male squatters were beaten up. I go to draw somewhere marginally safer: a gig at the Financial Times office.
To get there I walk past the aggressively opulent frontage of law firm S. J. Berwin. It’s a relief to reach the unglitzy, boffiny engine-room that is the newspaper. 
Mary Wilson (vocals/violin)

Peter Whitehead is celebrating 25 years as an FT journalist by holding a charity folk/rock concert with friends and a colleague. They sing and play to a congenial audience in a conference room with the passionate sincerity of non-professional musicians. 

I use conventional pens, quills, a bamboo pen and a few inches of hemp bondage rope.

Afterwards I take the stairs and find a sight which makes a freelance home-worker weep [left]. Last time I had access to something like that the techies wore Fairisle jumpers, corduroy trousers and beards. 

The day before, I borrowed a Cross Keys squatter to model for the life class I go to. She took charge of her life at the age of 13. Now 18, she is confident, well-spoken, absurdly grown up for a pretty fairy and can do things I can’t – smoke, rifle through skips outside supermarkets for food, not feel cold in flimsy clothes, go out in socks but no shoes. She has a pungent insouciance. 

One of the squatters who was beaten up by the gang, Arthur, is quoted in the Financial Times of 5 November 2012 (Chicken with wine sauce from a skip on lunch menu for pub occupiers). He says he sees ‘a choice between wasteland and trespassing.’

The life drawings
are of the squatter
Peter Whitehead and nine other musicians perform songs by Lori McKenna, Sam Baker and Mary Gauthier on his CD Lori, Sam and Mary. Sales benefit the Down’s Syndrome Association. Peter’s wife Grania Langdon-Down is descended from the doctor who gave his name to the syndrome. Details:  

At the gig he was joined by Simon Botham/percussion, Heidi Felton/cello, Derek Huff/keyboards, Richard Lloyd/guitar, Martin Nielsen (also of the FT)/guitar and Mary Wilson/violin and vocals.