Went to Stroud yesterday evening to participate in the celebration of the seventh decade of life for the esteemed John Marjoram. The room was packed with precisely the right numbers to comply with H&S regulations, all vibrating at the frequency of optimism, determination and contentment. We were entertained by the Stroud School of Samba, a brass trio who started with the Tetris tune, which is still echoing around my brain as I write, and Bruce Airhead, though not at the same time fortunately.
Then a few people got up to render tribute to the great man. It is good to give eulogies to the living, rather than taking each other for granted while their heart is still functioning and then praising them to the skies when they are headed for a long spell under ground. Though by the look of him, John has another 30 years of Green acitivsm in him at least.
I see John as the embodiment of the Green Ideology of the heart. Not by any means perfect - perfection is not on the agenda, fundamentalists of all kinds will be distressed to learn - but a reasonably good specimen.
John and I were the first Greens elected to local authorites, on Chernobyl day, April 6th 1986.
It is a source of continuing chagrin to John that my green dot appeared on the TV screens 20 minutes before him, but he has overcome this defect, essentially a deficiency of the Stroud counting process, by continuing in office ever since, unlike me, who resigned pusillanimously after suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous Weston Super Mare Tories for 6 long years.
I chatted to a few that I knew, like Molly Scott Cato the Green Party Economics Speaker, Janet Bailey, with whom I campaigned for vaccination in the 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease fiasco, and a couple of other old Green friends.
The impression I have in Stroud is of the amazing potential that there is for humanity when a sense of community is reawakened. Individualism has been the dominant philosophy over the last 18 years, but it is a totally false philosophy (in short, because homo "sapiens" is a social animal), a philosophy that underpins the failed free market fundamentalism, and because it disables people from bettering themselves. In places like Stroud, people are finding that there is indeed such a thing as society, giving the lie direct to Mrs (now "Lord") Thatcher. From the ashes of the individualist, me-first, free market economy the Phoenic of sustainable communitarian society and sustainable economics will soon arise. If not, in the long run we are all fecked, to modify Keynes' aphorism.
Many happy returns John. You have requested neither flowers nor presents, but donations of appreciation to the Marah Trust which helps the homeless in Stroud.