The text below is from a collaborative writing workshop, led by The Alternative School of Economics, and inspired by books in Rabbits Road Institute Library and other texts. Titled Writing Together, the workshops explored different co-writing techniques in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. They were hosted online by Pen to Print, part of Barking & Dagenham Library Service, with participants joining from across the world including London, Wales, USA and Germany.
This text was collectively written as park of the Writing Together - Non-fiction workshop on 30th March 2021.
I remember….a collective memory from before and during the pandemic
after Joe Brainard, 1975
I remember queuing outside shops.
I remember hearing bird song for the first time during lockdown.
I remember going for a blood test.
I remember the sound of school children outside my house on my street.
I remember feeling too afraid to leave my flat and wondering if anyone I knew was going to die.
I remember walking for five hours or more because it was the sunniest summer we’d ever had.
I remember that “invisible energy” sharing of people, known- unknown via smile, gaze, touch and speech.
I remember very sharply, the happy atmosphere around the offices, restaurants and homes.
I remember being on the bus with my baby in July when it was 30 degrees.
I remember working in a different part of London each day.
I remember being in a club, so close, bodies pushed together.
I remember being terrified to spend time alone with myself.
I remember when I realized I love spending time alone with myself.
I remember when Zoom was not a word in my vocabulary.
I remember making excuses for not doing things like phoning a family member.
I remember watching my daughter in the swimming pool, diving in
I remember feeling helpless.
I remember being more embarrassed to fart than cough.
I remember someone saying, 'I have not seen you in a long time'.
I remember rushing from place to place and not appreciating each individual trip enough.
I remember getting on a bus without having a destination in mind.
I remember appreciating how hard it is to teach a toddler to spell.
I remember football without faked cheers.
I remember Jason and I would meet at Leo Bistro in the Art Institute for the pleasure of each other’s company, some afternoons, sit and talk, reminisce about our lives and our ideas.
I remember our conversations became narrow. We would attend Jason’s Curiosity Café via Zoom, talking mostly politics with the group. When he and I talk on the phone, he falls into the ‘newsworthy’ topics of Curiosity Café. Impersonal.
Collective Manifesto for a Post-Pandemic World
Yes to outdoor seating.
Yes to hobbies. Yes to creativity.
Yes to being okay with not seeing eye to eye with others and still maintaining respect for one-another.
Yes to looking out for one another.
Yes to doing things for the greater good.
Yes to self-care.
Yes to connection on our own terms.
Yes to enjoying time alone.
Yes to open schedules.
Yes to enjoying Christmas alone.
No to putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations out of fear of judgement.
Yes to heroes like Captain Tom Moore.
Let’s meet more people and make new friends.
Let’s realise that though we are all grains of sand, what we do matters and impacts those around us.
No to Big Brother.
No to reducing doughnuts from 5 to 4 in a pack and charging the same price.
I want food to feed the hungry and not line the bellies of the rich.
No to creating false demands. What do people really need and like.
Yes to the Helen kellers of this world - breaking through the nicety of privilege.
Yes to conservation. Value the natural world have conservation as a subject in schools.
Yes to a life that understands its interdependence with others.
I want a true understanding of and commitment to fairness.
Is there a place on this earth where there are: no damages to trees, no damages to rivers and ocean, no damages to animals, no damages to society done by our behavior?
I want bats to have an exclusive island - One far from you and me.
Yes to being okay with saying I am not fine.
No to zombies in trains to fill office blocks.
Global experience shows us that we are a global community.
As one community we must have:
Access for all to medical services, both critical and routine.
Access for all to the internet, to high speed internet.
Access for all citizens to the polls and voting opportunities.
Access to citizenship, somewhere, for every person.
Parity for women everywhere, in pay, opportunities, recognition.
Yes to appreciating health care workers, teachers, bin collectors, supermarket staff, pharmacists, police and delivery people.
No to the slow erosion of our rights.
Yes to freedom of speech.
Yes to protecting the vulnerable.
Yes to giving voice to marginalised people.
Yes to the autistic child who reaches beyond the world we know - and breaks the sound barrier.
Yes to change.
Yes to workers rights.