Sunday, November 23, 2008

No BNP near me

A request came round this week to join a 'working party' on the allotments this morning -- there was a chopped down tree to clear, and some hedging to plant. It was a glorious morning, so we girded our loins, rugged up and got on down there. I wasn't really sure what to do, but direction was provided, and pretty soon we were lopping and wheeling and dragging dead wood up the site and handing it over to a man who was building a bonfire with the look of someone who has been building bonfires for many years. It was amazing how quickly the tree was broken down and shifted, and then we started digging holes for hazel and buckthorn and spindle.

After a couple of hours, we knocked the dirt off our spades and began taking our leave -- M had offered housemate P a lift to the bus stop with his music gear, and anyway our lower backs were feeling the pinch. Well you can't go *yet*, said M the Field Secretary. We're just about to have a drink. And he produced a bottle of Southern Comfort which he proceeded to mix with hot blackcurrant squash from a giant Thermos and hand round in plastic beakers.

Southern Comfort was briefly my drink of choice, just after my vodka and lime phase. I decided it was cool, in the same way I decided that Sobranie Cocktail cigarettes were cool, and I drank it, and smoked them (on special occasions -- the rest of the time it was mostly Embassy Regal), until I moved onto beer and roll ups when I became a Proper Student.

I've hardly had Southern Comfort since, for the very good reason that it is pretty disgusting, but this was different. It was a hot sweet drink on a cold sharp day, stomping on the ground to keep warm, looking around and laughing with everyone taking the serious piss out of Joe Swift, and realising that I was the youngest and the smallest and the only female person there, and certainly (with the possible exception of M) knew the least about growing vegetables, but that this didn't, at that moment, matter one iota. Knowledge comes, and I can drag a chunk of tree with the best of them.

I set off home feeling warm of heart, muzzy of head and heavy of foot, as there was a massive clump of clay firmly attached to each of my wellies. There was a clear need for snacks, so I took a detour via the Best Samosa Shop In Town, a tiny, friendly Muslim-run newsagent on Magdalen Road where I made my purchases on the threshold because by the time I got there I was shedding mud with every step.

Then I poured a glass of white and spent a little while getting to know my enemy by perusing the leaked list of BNP members. Lancashire doesn't come out of it well, I have to say, and there is one on the street I grew up on, which is rather sad but not that surprising. But Oxford, for a city, doesn't do so bad. You can see the list on wikileaks, or for a neat graphic representation, which doesn't name names, check out BNP Near Me? You'd think, looking at that, that the centre of Oxford was completely BNP free, but scrutiny of the list reveals that there is one instance where the OX4 postcode has been typo-ed as OX41. A&L, he's on your street. Sorry about that.

But I'm looking on the bright side. The bonfire will be lit on the winter solstice, and there will be more Southern Comfort and stomping to do.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Embassy Regal. You see,you can take the girl out of the North...

8:54 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

I know! It was a shock when I moved down South and couldn't find them. I ended up (before I stopped altogether) mostly smoking roll-ups, but these were interspersed, I am embarrassed to admit, with Marlboro Lights, the smoke of choice of posh girls the world over.

12:00 pm  

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