Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gallows humour

Despite it being unavailable stateside, I've finally been able to snaffle a copy of Mark Steel's 'What's Going On?'

Only seventy pages in, I'm enjoying it as I have all of his books that I've previously read but I am once again struck by the thought that I wish that I had a dollar for every time he starts a sentence with, "It's a bit like . . . .".

I wouldn't be rich but I would be able to afford a jar of marmite from the Chip Shop.

Of course, as with the wonderful 'Reasons To Be Cheerful', waves of recognition pour over you as you read Steel. He may have been thirty years man and petition peddler in the SWP but, whether you have SPGB, SWP, CWO, CPB, SPEW, ICC, L & S or RWP-UNB sewn into your lapel, there is a reason why we all pretend to be in on the Life of Brian joke.

Irrespective of the groupscule you're currently hiding from the real world in, the experience is pretty much a muchness of a muchness. On average, the groan of recognition hits you every two pages by my reckoning.

The excerpted passage below about the break in relations between the SWP and ISO a few years back had me shouting at the walls, 'that's us, that is':

The result of all this was the British and American wings of the organisation formally parted, so the British attempted to start up a new American party. After a few months someone told me excitedly, 'There's good news from America - we're up to eight.' Eight - in the whole of America - good news. When I relayed this conversation to someone else they said, 'And what he didn't tell you is that six of them are on Death Row.'

In my darker moments, I realise I only stay in obscurantist politics because of the one-liners.


stuart said...

I remember when I first joined the groupuscule where we met. We were in a pub and I asked how big the American party was. You said, "Well, put it this way, we could get them all round this table, and there'd still be room for the Canadian and Australian parties." Worthy of the man himself.

gray said...

Not to mention the Kiwis ;-)

I was selling the Socialist Standard a few years ago, enjoying the music of a busker.

When he took a break, he came over and bought a copy as well as chatted. He was from New Zealand and had heard of the SPGB. He said something about the Kiwi comrades numbering three or four and all of them are in their 80s!

Darren said...

Christ, that post was really poorly written. I need to get my fucking act together.

Rant over.