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Diary of a Squat (1989) read by Dorothy Spencer and Carl Cattermole

25th June, 2020

This book is from 56a Archive, a highly-recommended social centre in Elephant And Castle, London.

Diary Of A Squat was written by Jean Delarue during his time spent at 1 Clapham Road, an autonomous housing project for people who were homeless during Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s.

It was situated in Belgrave Children’s Hospital, a tall and ornate red-brick Victorian ‘arts and crafts’ landmark building that still stands opposite Oval Tube Station.

1 Clapham Road housed migrants finding their feet, pensioners without pensions, ex-prisoners, thieves, depressed philosophers, drug addicts and middle-class idealists. In other words, a genuine counter culture (as opposed to the type that is marketed by a record label or an art gallery).

The book chronicles capitalism’s castaways tenderly building a community, while the usual suspects throw spanners in the works. The council, church and charities offer (or enforce) their irritating interferences; hacks swoop for sensational scoops but are schooled on journalism ethics then sent packing; authoritarian individuals try to seize power but the squatters, wise to their game, “choose freedom and equality rather than three cooked meals a day and a TV”.

Some of Jean’s ideas and language will now be frowned upon in leftie circles, but bare with him because the broader lessons (less theory, more practical application, less dogma, more acceptance) are excellent and can be applied to our present predicaments.

Thirty years later we have Thatcherism on steroids. The inevitable tents and sleeping bags in every urban nook and cranny. Enforcement officers to sweep the problem under the carpet. Property value that results in far less places of refuge. Charity complexes to quell the liberals.

But we also have similar glimmers of hope: while local councils sat on their hands during 2018’s freezing winter, the excellent Streets Kitchen went hands-on and opened Sofia House in Central London. Museum of Homelessness is very worth donating to as well. Anyone who listens to this and has time and money should direct it towards these ‘solidarity not charity’ type operations.

Enough blurb. Stream audio (for mobile) or download the complete zip file including photos and more info here.

British prisons are petri dishes for this pandemic

23rd March, 2020

This past Tory decade has left public services looking like a bicycle locked up too long in East London: valuable parts stolen, everything else rusted. And if the service still has two wheels then I guarantee it doesn’t have the suspension to cope with bumps… and… COVID-19 isn’t a bump, it’s an assault course.

Prisons are Petri dishes for this pandemic. Overcrowded, understaffed, completely filthy, full of vulnerable individuals without the agency to self isolate. Telephones shared by hundreds while soap is no longer given out as standard: personal hygiene is now a privilege.

The risk of unrest is sky high, but more importantly, a failure to take immediate robust action begins to look like the death penalty by any other name.

Read the whole article at Freedom News here.


British prisons are petri dishes for this pandemic Freedom News 2020
Pentonville killing lifts the lid on the crisis in our prisons The Guardian 2016
I despair at plans to turn London's prisons into luxury flats The Guardian 2015
It's no surprise prisoners beat Harvard The Guardian 2015
I've been in Britain's grimmest prisons The Guardian 2015
London's prisons converted to flats The Guardian 2015
Connecting with inmates through music The Wire 2016
Surviving in prison Dazed & Confused 2015
The emotional hardship of prison OpenDemocracy 2015
Letting Yanks know Matador Network 2011


Scratchy tracksuits and emotional hell Daily Mail 2015
Britain's prisons are failing us all Little Atoms 2015
How to survive in British Prison VICE UK 2015
Como sobrevivir en una carcel Britanica VICE Mexico 2015
Stress-free walk in the park VICE UK 2015


Offender DOPE 2018
Bumphones VICE UK 2016
More about bumphones The Sun 2016
Even more about bumphones The Metro 2016
Even even more about bumphones 2016
Fury as ex-prisoner publishes book The Mirror 2011
An introduction 2016
10 Ways to Survive British Prison Buzzfeed 2015
How to ease yourself into HMP Financial Times 2014
Weird paraphrasing of my guide 2016


Concerts Inside, BBC Radio 4 2019
Double Bubble, Prison Rado Association 2018
Broadcasting House BBC Radio 4 2016
Outsourced Radio BBC Radio 4 2016
Ex-con's guide to a better prison system Channel 4 2015
Live studio discussion Channel 4 News 2016
Live studio discussion Channel 4 News 2015
Pre-recorded interview BBC News at 10 2015
World At One BBC Radio 4 2015
Incarceration show NTS.Live 2015
CLEARSPOT Resonance FM 2014

©2020 Carl Cattermole | Handwriting by Banx | Site by Alan