Today is Sunday an I am still in London. The sun is shining. I treated myself to breakfast in Marylebone High Street at my favourite spot spending an hour or so over the Sunday papers.
Ah, what a treat. I love Marylebone High Street. It conjurs up all sorts of memories and fantasies for me. If I was a little flakier I might even say that I believe I had had another life there (or perhaps if I knew you better!)
Walking along I was totally lost in my private landscape when I heard someone screaming "Don't punch me again - Don't punch me again!". Now wherever you are reading this, I want you to suspend your reality and try to picture this posh little "very British" street at midday on a sunny Sunday with people just beginning to drift out into the sun. The picture, although it is 2006 is timeless if not a little too genteel for me. The thing that struck me was that no one seemed too perturbed by all the yelling except for myself and one young American man.
The truth is I have always had a problem with people being abused. Put it down to my Welsh father and his sense of social fairness if you will or maybe that I am just a busybody but it makes me what to do something. This in iteslef poses a bit of personal dilemma because I am, I should remind you, a coward. I lack courage in all sorts of ways but somehow my sense of outrage at hearing people cry for help overcomes that sometimes. So, with my brain in sleep mode, I did follow the noise to the source behind a large van which stood outside a high street supermarket. A young scruffy looking "homeless" person was being held by the neck by a very large supermarket security person and two other large male members of staff. I dont know what started this nonsense but maybe he had shoplifted something or was causing a ruckass. To be honest I have no idea and as usual went over without much information at all. What I DO know is that he was small and they were big. I also know that he was hungry looking and they looked very well fed. Now, that again makes me sort of want to do something. Whatever the reason for the troubles, there seemed to be a pretty big imblance in the power and the treatment he was getting was not right. I intuitively walked up and stood there right in front of them. I think I might have believed that if I just stood in witness, then it would stop. Which, funnily enough, it did. The big guys looked at me as if I was crazy. They let the guy go and then just walked away shaking their heads.
The whole incident led me to think about power, and the extraordinary power we, as older women often have just by being older women and standing there in our own presence. I don't know what it is about but I sense we represent another side of life sometimes to those committing violent acts. Maybe we are the mothers or grandmas of these people with a different face and for just a second we hold the same space.. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that all violence can be stopped by "just standing there" but sometimes we just cant run away and pretend it isnt going on and just witnessing might tip the balance. Liek all my thoughts, one thing leads to another and I started to think about my mother and the way she controlled us all by just giving us "her look" when we were crossing the boundary into behaviour she didnt like. No word needed to pass between us. She had no need to chide us. She had all the power she needed in "her look".
I was reminded too of Greenham Common and the imagery that the women used to change the behaviour of the police when they tried to disrupt the protest. And I thought again about those thousands and thousands of women who caught buses and trains to gather and just stand there in their presence. It made me wonder where all those women are. Those ordinary women like me who joined together to show that women do care about violence and war and senseless killing. Where are they? Are they sitting at home watching The X Factor or Noel Edmonds? I have a secret longing that they are whispering into the ears of their grandchildren that life is sacred, and love is constant challenge and not a resting place and they, like thsoe who cared before them, must carry the notion of the power of creativity rather than destruction? I hope so.
Which is a great segue into my passionate belief that we are all Creative Beings and most of us just have got lazy and lost. But more of that some other posting.
Whenever I travel I often drop into the nearest Quaker meeting. Not that I am a Quaker but there is a reassuring constancy about spending an hour sitting quietly with a group of like minded people wherever you happen to be in the world. For me, travelling is so chock-a-block full of new experiences and new sensations that often I just forget to enjoy myself in all the rushing around. There develops this absurd urgency to fit everything in before I move on and this turns my experiences into distractions rather than refilling my creative "bank". So today I again stopped for an hour to just sit an enjoy the silence. It was SO needed and so enjoyable.
Tomorrow I am driving my old Corolla to Scotland to Callander.