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 The Flowers That Grow On The Compost Heap: a cock-eyed optimist's diary by Robert Wyatt - Liquorice - no.7 - 1976


Even sooner than I expected, the 'rock generation' is churning out its John Waynes, Ronald Reagans and Shirley Temples. Steve Harley (who gets the 'purple prose' effect by painting blue meanies red) has revised the classic conundrum: "Nothing I say is true, therefore this statement is false, therefore... etc". He wags his finger at us, saying that Solzhenitsyn tells it like it is. So we turn eagerly to the Venerable S. who tells us, again with the emphatic wag of the trigger-finger, not to listen to arrogant, inexperienced young idealists. As circles go, this is one of the most vicious I've ever come across!

So almost everywhere I turn I seem to hear two generations warning us all against some bogey-man who is draining away our spiritual resources, leaving us morally bankrupt etc. They both regret some supposed lost age of innocence: the Young in a panic because even all Bruce Springsteen's publicity men can't put Bob Dylan's relevance and charisma back together again; the Old in an equally petulant panic because all those dirty coloured people (including miners who are after all only really white men between showers) who used to dig up and cut down our raw materials for us, seem to want a bit more than a pat on the head for their services these days.

The irrational impulse behind the Moan of the Rock Generation could be summarised: "It's no fun getting my Christmas stocking any more now the grown-ups have spoilt it all by revealing that Father Christmas was just daddy with a funny hat on".


While the Great Parental Moan could be summarised: "Now my children have grown up, there is nobody to bring in the coal and do the household chores for us. It's not the same with the new maid, you have to pay her - mercenary bitch...". The result of this bizarre confluence of ' Ideaology backlash' victims is that we now find pop-stars and moderates (or right-wing extremists as they used to be called) desperately holding hands to defend the tattered remains of their spoils with only a tiny hand-ful of possessions (like their country retreats, their farmland, their newspapers, their banks, their church and their B.B.C.) to remind them of their former glory. It's a pathetic picture.

And what have all us commies, niggers, hippies, agitators and permissive whores to say for ourselves after all this trouble we've started? I decided to keep a Cock-eyed ( no dirty puns intended) Optimist's Diary, in which I would record a random-ish sample of any events, however minor or apparently foolhardy, which gave hope to somebody, somewhere.

A.J.P. Taylor, an active participant in the General Strike That Never Happened, remarked recently, while reflecting on the miners' supporters defeat of the Tories in the '74 elections; "So we won, after all." To A.J.P's outrageously unfashionable cheerfulness, I dedicate the following brief selection from my diary...

Amnesty International, formed 15 years ago to put pressure on governments who use solitary confinement and torture as standard political tools against 'subversive' reformists etc, have obtained the release of everybody on their original lists, and continue to grow in influence, respected everywhere for their non-partisan approach; one of their most recent success stories being the release of Leonid Plyushch from Dniepropetrousk prison mental hospital.
Survival International help fund the Andoke tribe in Colombia, enabling them to pay off 'debts' to the all-powerful rubber-agents, and to become independent enough to purchase their own tools for rubber-collecting, and sell 'direct'.
S.I. get some medical protection for the Yaomami tribe of Southern Venezuela and Northern Brazil, suffering from previously unknown illnesses and infections brought in by white civilisation.
S.I. help Murvi-Muinane Indians withstand incursions of neo-Colombian society into the native environment.
S.I. help towards an integrated project for socio-economic development of the endemic people, with provisions included for animal conservation, on Siberut Island, West Sumatra, Indonesia.
S.I. try to assist relations between man and wildlife living at subsistence level in Greenland, Botswana and India, where the interests of man and wildlife sometimes seem to conflict.
S.I. help establish new alternatives in food acquisition for the endemic people of Siberut, and help to reduce the impact of white commercial interests related to timber extraction.
S.I. influence Paraguayan attitudes to their indigenous Indian population, away from the attitudes of social inferiority inflicted on the Indians because they are not identified as Christians, and help to create an atmosphere of concern for the future of all Amerindian groups.
South Africa's Progressive Reform Party demonstrated growing white disillusion with apartheid by winning an important by-election with a barrister who recently defended black students on "terrorism" charges.
Meanwhile back in Britain sex discrimination is banned in employment advertising. It's only a start but it's in the right direction...
Baroness Wootton and Gerald Gardiner Q.C. give remarkable T.V. interviews demonstrating that maturity and responsibility don't have to make people corrupt and/or cynical.
Prisoners help the blind: there's a recently established Braille unit at Aylesbury prison.
A new government report comes out firmly in support of Free Pop festivals. "Pop festivals are reasonable and acceptable forms of recreation", says the report, "not inherently objectionable or dangerous events".
It looks like the fall in the pound could be just what's needed for an export boom! British steel, for example, has flourished recently with such competitive prices.
The housing scheme in Blackburn seems to have really worked: they have a policy of renovating the better-built old houses and small shops, keeping neighbourhoods intact wherever possible.
Meanwhile - outside Liverpool - Runcorn is being studied by United Nations representatives as a model of new town building. The houses are small-scale, 'human' sized, in fact; buses have their own road; and there's plenty of grass - kids are allowed to play on it, too!

And the new Council homes in London's dockland at St.Katherine-By-The-Tower will be traffic-free, landscaped, and will also provide areas for children to play.
An export boom is forecast for Britain by Sir Frederick Catherwood, chairman of the British Institute of Management. He gives five reasons: a/the undervaluation of sterling; b/the new pay deal; c/growth of major export markets; d/secure membership of the B.E.C.; e/growing Trade Union realisation of the need for export-led growth.
Garfield Todd, former Prime-Minister of Rhodesia, released from prison at last. Now he can campaign more actively on behalf of the others...
British population decreased by around 9OOO last year. This should dispel any remaining fears of eventual overcrowding.
Get-rich-quick private abortionists lost 4O% business in early '76 compared with the same period last year. And the number of foreign women coming to Britain for abortions - the staple diet of teh private sector - dropped by well over half, as more liberal abortion laws were introduced in France and Germany.
Unemployment is down throughout Europe. An indication of the more optimistic mood of West European governments came when the Italian finance minister said he hoped it would be possible to end Italy's comprehensive import controls scheme earlier than its planned duration of three months.
Czechoslovakia's G.N.P. increased by 38% during the last five years. They have no unemployment.
Recent British Government legislation stops farm labourers being thrown out of cottages when too old or too ill to work.
FREGG (campaign for Free Range EGGs) getting organised against
the cruel (not to say tasteless) battery chicken system. Also an indication of the healthy fashion for small-scale home-grown food.
HABITAT studying cheap 'alternative technology' for use around the 'poor' world (most of the planet), taking easily available local resources into account. This 'self help' group, started in Stockholm, has been displaying its ideas in a special international gathering in Toronto - itself a model of trouble-free city planning for more affluent conditions. Speaking of which...

The Government of New South Wales is to be the next administration to legalise the private use of marijuana. Laws on soft drugs, homosexuality, prostitution and victimless crimes like vagrancy and drunkenness are all to be liberalised.
The notoriously high number of heart attacks in North Karelia being checked: project financed by Finnish government and the World Health Organisation has started to succeed partly by changing diet habits: more vegetables, less fatty meat.
A series of articles in a special report in the Grauniad on behalf of a secular, democratic Palestine. Case well and reasonably put.
The success of Bob Marley among others has paved the way for relatively large-scale acceptance of modern West Indian music in Britain.
3rd year pupils at Stewards Comprehensive School in Harlow, Essex, learning and performing Ghanaian dances taught by director of creative studies, Felix Cobbson. They may go to the Festival of Culture and Arts in Lagos, Nigeria, next year.
A government white paper on the working of the Children and
Young Persons Act of 1969 contains first steps towards phasing out all remands of young people to adult prisons - and will, says the white paper, come into effect as soon as possible.
According to 'Psychiatry in Medicine' (Vol.7), the growing
number of women doctors make better G.P.s than men: they tend to be more conscientious and thorough, as well as less irritable. And they are preferred by black and other ethnic groups.
Hunter Davies' book on Creighton Comprehensive School points out the unprecedented potential of the comprehensive system.
George Davis released to ecstatic welcome home in Bow.
Workers representing the 2OOO people of United Biscuits plant at Isleworth took their place alongside shareholders for the first time at the company's annual meeting in Edinburgh. The firm's participation policy was based on effective, cost-conscious, profit-oriented management, who recognised that they were more likely to be successful by embracing participation which leads to greater involvement and breaks down barriers.
No "War trials" bloodbath in Vietnam: old Southern soldiers going to polling booths with everyone else.
The film 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' received loads of awards and has been on general release and shown in cinemas that normally only show 'uncontroversial' films.
Meanwhile (what a useful word that is) back in the U.S.A., Seminoles and Choctaws, remnants of a once-powerful South-Eastern group of Indians, start on the slow climb back to prosperity...

...music, curtain, lights...

- I'm glad to say this diary has no end -



Friends of the Earth Limited, 9 Poland Street, London W1V 3DO.

Free Range Egg Scheme, 39 Maresfield Gardens, London NWS.

Survival International, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NQ.

The Royal society For The Protection Of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy,
Bedfordshire. SG19 2BR.

Amnesty International/British Section
, 55 Theobalds Rd, London WC1


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