Taking a LEAP: Alternatives to Money


As I said yesterday, I’ve just finished reading ‘No is Not Enough’ (actually I have yet to read the end bit, which is the LEAP manifesto pictured above, an alternative manifesto with a number of broad-ranging suggestions to tackle climate change and deal with the excesses of global capitalism.  It refers to Canada but is applicable anywhere and everywhere.)


Klein hits the nail on the head, as always, by pointing out that attachment to money is at the root of this; and without coming over all biblical manages to say the same thing as the New Testament:


Money itself, as I have pointed out before, is neither real nor evil in itself.  It is morally neutral since money is a concept we have agreed to treat as if it were real for the purposes of exchanging goods and services.  So it strikes me that the way to destroy global capitalism (which god knows we need to do before it destroys us) is to undermine this attachment to money.  We can do this in any number of ways: by freecycling, by refusing to buy what we are sold, by helping each other out without asking for financial rewards and above all by refusing to regard money as the be-all and end-all of our existence.

For ten years now I have put my money where my mouth is by giving up paid employment in order to do what I love.  I have taken a leap off the cliff and tried to do the impossible – namely, to make money from writing – and I can’t claim to have succeeded yet.  But – and here’s the astonishing point – I have survived.  My health has not gone down the tubes; I haven’t starved, gone without adequate clothing, frozen to death or been homeless.  Whenever disaster has threatened to strike something has always come along: I’ve even managed some luxuries such as holidays, the odd bottle of wine and, in the last year, a car.  Much of this is due to the generosity of friends (and Friends) and family, but I hope those (F)friends and relatives would agree that there has been some kind of exchange here: in that I may not have money but I have time and energy to do things for others.

This is a phenomenon I’ve observed in other people who put their lives on the line to do what they love; that something always turns up.  I don’t even think you need to have some kind of religious faith for this to work; just the faith that comes from taking that leap off the cliff.  Every artist (unless they are born into money) has this same dilemma: how do I make a living and practise my art?  My view is that if you wait until you can afford it you’ll probably wait forever.  Take a leap of faith.

Living without money has taught me a lot.  In some ways it’s been a very hand-to-mouth existence but I think that central to survival is to think only of what you need today, here and now, and let tomorrow take care of itself. It has also brought a certain kind of freedom: an immunity to advertising.  There is no chance whatsoever of any advertising affecting me or tempting me to buy something I don’t need, because I don’t have the money.

At the same time I refuse to allow lack of money to limit my imagination.  I never tell myself ‘I can’t’ when an opportunity comes up, because maybe there’s a way that ‘I can.’  For example I can go to the Labour Party Conference in September because I’m going as a delegate and this will be paid for by the local party; and in the same way I’ve managed to go to lots of things for free because I’ve managed to access funding or because I’ve offered to do something in return.

It’s amazing what can happen when you look beyond the limitations of mere money and take a LEAP.

Kirk out

Hust! Hust! O Hust!

It’s a funny word, hustings.  It sounds like Hastings, which of course means ‘things said on the spur of the moment to explain to someone who comes into a room unexpectedly, precisely what you are doing.’


Which, now I come to think of it, may not be too different from Hustings: policies made up on the spur of the moment to explain to electors who come into the room precisely what you plan to do after the election.

Be that as it may (with a small ‘m’, since May declines to debate with anyone), last night’s hustings in Loughborough were by all accounts much more civilised than the TV debate.  I have yet to catch up with this as my arse was on a chair in St Peter’s Centre, listening to five local candidates set out their stall.  It was a good debate, with questions previously submitted (mine didn’t get in, sadly, though I did squeeze in a comment) – and if the mood of that meeting is anything to go by, the Tories will get short shrift.  Nicky Morgan comes across as pleasant and reasonable: she is well-thought of locally and in my seven months here I have come across her three or four times at local events.  So far so good: but her voting record is appalling; she lives in a six-bedroom house in the county and frankly I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her: underneath the charm there is a sly manipulative streak that I do not like.

It is fairly typical I suppose that out of the five candidates we know three personally: Phillip Leicester of the Greens is a stalwart of Friday Room discussion group and spoke eloquently and passionately about Green policies and the need for a more representative system than ‘first past the post’.  Jewel Miah, the Labour candidate and a local guy, spoke well though I could have wished for a tad more passion, and David Walker, who I know from Quaker Meeting, was also eloquent and persuasive.  In addition to Nicky Morgan (sad that the only woman there was a Tory) was the UKIP guy who spoke somewhat haltingly didn’t seem to persuade many people, though he was, by UKIP standards, fairly civilised.

I was determined to get in a comment about the NHS and seized my chance in the middle of a question about public services, expressing my deep concern about the likelihood of it being parcelled up and sold off to ‘the likes of Richard Branson and US insurance companies.’  This got a huge round of applause, which was very heartening.

So all in all, a good hust.  But it is important to remember that this was an event organised by Loughborough churches and as such may not represent the town as a whole.

But I’m hopeful.  I get more hopeful with every day.

Vote Labour (or anyone to get the Tories out)

Kirk out

PS I have just found out that ‘hustings’ comes from the Old Norse ‘husthing’: hus meaning ‘house’ and ‘thing’ meaning assembly or parliament.  So now we know.

Tuesday Tactics

Well yesterday’s post may not have been political but today’s sure as hell is.  What in God’s name is going on?  We have a group of people acting in such as way as one can only ask,  what the hell are they thinking???  You start an ill-advised action, and when that doesn’t work you compound it with another one.  Then, when that is declared illegal you use the funds of the group to appeal against the decision: an action almost inevitably doomed to failure.  It’s as if they were on tramlines and once they’d started off, had no option but to go where the tramlines led.

It’s as if – oh, I don’t know.  Let’s just – let’s –

I know.  Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago – some time last year in fact, there was a government.  Now this government was voted in by a majority of the electorate.  But there were some people who didn’t like the government, and so those people decided they wanted another election.  ‘You’re not governing properly!’ they shouted.  ‘We don’t have any confidence in you!’  It didn’t matter that the government hadn’t been in power very long; or that lots of people had voted for them: these unhappy people didn’t listen to anyone.  So they called another election.

But in the meantime there were a lot of young people who had grown up; and these people were now eligible to vote.  And the unhappy people were worried that the younger voters would support the government.  So they decided that anyone who had turned eighteen in the last six months would be disqualified unless they paid some more money.  Then they would be called ‘associate voters’ and they would be able to vote.  The young people were very unhappy about this.  Some of them paid the extra money but some of them decided to take their case to the judge at the High Court.

‘What is the matter?’ the judge asked.

‘We are very unhappy, kind Sir,’ the young people said.  ‘For we turned eighteen last year and wanted to vote in the election.  But now the unhappy people have told us we have to pay extra money in order to vote.’

The judge listened; then he thought, and then he said: ‘the unhappy people are wrong.  You are able to vote in the election without paying the extra money.’

‘Thank you, sir,’ said the young people.  And they went back to their constituencies and prepared for the election.

It seemed that everything would be fine.  But then the unhappy people decided to go and see the judge.  ‘We will go and talk to him,’ said the Chief Unhappy Person.  ‘We will appeal to his better judgment.’  But then they found out that their appeal would cost a lot of money.  We do not have enough money, they thought.  What shall we do?  And they decided to use some of the government’s money as if it were their own.

All this time the government was getting more and more popular, especially with the young people.  So the unhappy people said that the young voters had all been bewitched by wizards called ‘Trots’.  But the Unhappy People had done so many bad things that nobody believed them any more.

And still they went on being unhappy.

Kirk out


Think and Pinggk!

First things first: happy Mayday to all.  Today is a good day to be Pink: a good day to think about the Left and especially to find out more about Left Unity.  If you are at all dissatisfied with the status quo; if you feel Labour is no longer an opposition but more like an echo: if you think we really need new responses to the problem of social and economic inequality, then this group is for you.  Check it out:


You can sign up or register your interest on Facebook with no obligation.  Wait, that sounds like some kind of double-glazing sales brochure.  But you know what I mean.  Our first national meeting will be on May 11th and so far I have been very encouraged by the ideas that are coming from interested people.

Another kind of Pinggkness – the kind with a pair of ‘g’s – was out in force last night*: there was a record attendance at a packed Duffy’s bar and a night of hugely varied performances.  This is what I love about Pinggk – that everyone is given space and time to express themselves, whereas other groups have very limited time and only a certain number of slots.  One of the high points was by a woman with Parkinson’s who donned leotard and ballet shoes to do a dance routine with video backing.  Inspiring!  The theme for the evening was ‘in translation’, something I ignored completely and did instead some poems about ageing while wearing my daughter’s age-inappropriate Goth hoodie.  Good stuff and I was only sorry I couldn’t stay till the end but my fatigue had reached such proportions that a Good Night’s Sleep was becoming almost the only imperative in my life.  I’d be terrible under torture – just deprive me of sleep for a couple of nights and I’d say anything they wanted.  When I lived in Madrid I was better at staying out late, but then I didn’t have to get up early, and nowadays Mark wakes me up with tea at seven whether I want it or not.

I used to have a teasmade: now I just have Mark.

Oh, well…

Kirk out

* g-force, LOL