iou1 conversation – Anne

her “so if people give you a gift what do they get back, in return?” – “that’s not what a gift is” me – too glib for my own liking even at the time even though facetious even though playful I change tack – serious “everything I do will be a gift I want to make a gift of everything I do”. Anne gives out money for a living – she gets paid to give – the heritage lottery fund has funds they pay her to give out funds she gives them out it’s a living – maybe it’s different but there’s an overlap a definite connection I’d like to investigate. “What if we’re all taking out and nobody’s putting back in? What if everyone decides to do nothing? What if I’m gifting and other people are taking? Isn’t it our nature to be out for ourselves, to be individualistic?” And I talk about how I believe this is an ideology made up forty years ago – the ideas themselves are not new but the idea of building an entire economy an entire society on the bedrock of these assumptions – the assumptions contained in these questions we now take to be common sense – this is a recent phenomenon.

As an aside:

[How terrible it would be to not be useful. This we all feel. Yet we cannot shake the belief that other people would choose to be useless would choose not to work not to make themselves useful to others not to make things or apply themselves or seek to shape the world or be active within it or do. Do things. How unhappy they would be. How unhappy they must be. How unhappy they are (they are unhappy). How low our opinion of others. How low our opinion of ourselves. I had a beer with Tom last weekend – that’s another post – noted that money was no incentive for him or me that he would write software anyway that I would make theatre anyway. He says “but we’re different”. But we’re not different. I do not believe we’re different – this is the gamble I am prepared to take. There is an assumption an assumption abroad a shared assumption that money only money is the incentive but when I ask others when I ask people when I ask other people if that’s the case for them when I push them prod them prompt them they answer “no, the incentive the want the desire is located elsewhere”.]

Back with Anne we talk automation and debt (and is it real) and unemployed truck drivers and driverless cities and what are holidays “if money was taken out of the equation I would behave like I was on holiday” “yeah sure for a bit, but after a while you would get bored of that you’d want to work” “yes” “you like to work” “yes”

We’ve been talking a long time. Anne logical methodical implacable un-ostentatious. I hope she’s enjoying working through this she seems to be someone who enjoys working through things thinking things through unpicking things and this – this is useful. The gradual unpicking of an idea. The gentle tugging at threads. As things come apart they come together too.

“With this project it takes a long time to explain what the project actually is” she says. “Yes” I say “but that’s the project”.

Thanks Anne, I owe you one.


Postcapitalism and theatre meeting 24 March

Around an ageing laptop (mine)
with tiny tinny speakers
Paul’s nine minute and forty five second summary
of his four hundred page book
from a parked car parked in a car park in rainy Haverford West
we gather.
Across a big wooden table
we set forth
to ask where we are
and why

It’s just us

is full of potential
potential pitfalls too
with no set task at hand
or set person tasked to say
this is what we’re going to do today

Do we even trust each other?
Do we even know each other?

We’ll get to know each other
We’ll gain a sense of who we are
We’ll take a census of who’s here
We’ll come to a consensus about process
We’ll process a dissensus in content
We’ll sense
When it’s there
We’ll sense what’s in the works
A project a production a thing that we produce
A book
A zine
A blog website facebook page online platform database
(do we know anyone who’s good at online stuff?)
A festival
A network
A movement
A manifesto
A skills-sharing cooperative
A collective

There is a swell
Of energy and conversation
It swells and dissipates
Today we gather round
Circle and take steps
But we will not bridge the distance
of the big wooden table
between us

That’s OK

We speak
of short and long-term goals
of stairwells

There’s paper
I’ve brought forty sheets
Of A1 paper
The roll of paper
That I’ve brought
For the paper exercise
(‘cos you need paper for a paper exercise, right?)
Has not been unrolled
The roll of paper
Stays stuck in my hands
Remains rolled
There’s paper
And there are pens
But we do not put one to the other

Pens and paper will be for next time

iou1 conversation – press night at the Young Vic

Will is just the right side of manic – he’s had a beer.
Poppy is just the right side of lary – she’s had some beers, and some wine.
Hannah glances at her watch.
Rachel… it’s funny, it sounds like she’s playing the hostess, which she is I guess, because she’s introducing people. But she’s also not overplaying the hostess. It’s a subtle performance.
Alex is bright and deadpan, I tell him he looks like Ben Whishaw.
Lily is sober and upbeat.
I’m sober too, and in the mood to explain the iou1 project. In fact, I don’t introduce it, Will does. We’re doing introductions (we’re always doing introductions at these things), so I introduce a game where we introduce one another. Will is being waffly and modest about what it is he “does”, so I big him up a bit and say he’s worked at the ROH, and then Hannah, who’s a publicist introduces Poppy, who’s a director, and then Will introduces me and sets in motion The Conversation. I start off talking about the relationship of exchange and the relationship of gifting. How the project, the iou1 project, is a bid to push back against the all-pervasive logic of financial exchange, and introduce a relationship of gifting into areas of my life where it does not, as of yet, exist, to ask people to think about money and value, to have a conversation about what work is and why it is necessary (it is necessary, I hasten to add, but not as a chore, not as labour for the sake of labour, labour for the sake of subsistence; as a society, we are productive enough for that to not be necessary; but work is necessary, work produces meaning). Poppy says “this sounds serious”, laughs, delighted. She is genuinely delighted, I believe, but I don’t know if she will remember any of it the following morning. Hannah glances at her watch. Rachel and Alex need to leave “be in touch”, “call me”, “bye”, wave. Will has heard it before. He’s going to give me podcast when he does his radio course. But with Lily, Lily to whom I spoke before, it seems to land (or maybe she’s just being polite and a good listener). When I tell her about it (and it’s actually been a while since I’ve had The Conversation, so maybe I’m out of practice) I stumble a little. I do the porridge bit, which works well, but get lost in how the relationship of exchange, the logic of exchange needs to find new areas of activity to expand into, that this is capitalism, that with the emergence of new technologies which reduce the need for labour and therefore profit, capital must find other activities where a profit can be made. I forget to tell her about why it is important to me, why I believe it is dangerous for the logic of exchange to trump other logics. In retrospect, I tell myself this is something I must not forget to include But she is a good listener and it seems to have landed.


Group chat at the Slung Low Hub

Dhal in tubs, tea in mugs
Legs wrapped up in tartan rugs
Plucky little Aga having trouble drawing
Wafting rosemary and coffee
Underneath a patchwork awning.

Kick off with tales of the beautiful game
The class of ’92, Samoa 31-0 down to the Socceroos,
Tigers in Hull, red jerseys v. blue
Football a metaphor
But actual stories too
Of fans and families
Fathers and daughters
Dedication to the cause
And when the crowd roars
Shouldn’t that sound give us pause
To ask
Where are the theatre fans?
Where are the fanatics who’d give their life for amateur dramatics?

They’re in Camelot
Where magic lives
Where chants become incantations
Where verbatim leaves us speechless
Where moved beyond words
The audience struck the actors dumb
And stood beside them to pay tribute to the dead.

When we open doors
Wide enough
To let the magic in
What demons do we usher in behind?
Would you risk it
For a biscuit and a cup of tea?
So let’s brew a budget big enough
To make Theatre with a big tea
A radical cuppa
A revolutionary brew
Just me and you
Tea for two
Let’s have a chat
What more can we do?
More than that
We’ll hold open the door for you
The same door that we came through
We’ll hold open a space for you
You’ve got your own voice
That’s not something we can give to you
So here we’ll hold a space your voice can echo through.
And when the best thing in your life
Finishes on Thursday
How will we care for you?
How will we care for you when you’re the carer
Taking care and taking the stress
Of saving 118 billion for the NHS
One person sees you
But you’re invisible to the rest.
We owe it to you
To look you level in the eye
And tell your story back to you with honesty and pride.
Will that be our measure of success?

#iou1 conversation – Esteban

MC asks would I like to have lunch with her and her new man – he’s Esteban he’s round for lunch he’s back from Argentina he’s making quinoa and vegetables he’s a very good cook “would I like some?” – and over quinoa and vegetables – I concur he is a good cook – MC brings it up she says something along the lines of – but I can’t remember the wording or the circumstance not exactly – she brings up the project so I give him The Conversation //// Esteban speaks with ease and confidence and occasional flourishes the language of popular and alternative economics – the vocabulary he has made his own the arguments he has made his own in his mind he has mapped the territory full as it is of contradiction and anecdote and metaphor and now he navigates and surveys it – there are unknown corners places where contours are drawn but details shift but that’s the nature of the territory he’s an explorer and this is a reality which is in a constant state of flux [the extended metaphor is mine – apologies] //// “You don’t know about positive money? You have to google it!” and “where does money come from?” and “fractional reserves” and “how is the value of a house determined?” “and how will it change” asks MC “how will change come about?” “through projects like Ben’s through people deciding to live differently like Ben” I think he’s over-selling me a little but I appreciate the support and The Conversation extends – how to pronounce hegemony as in neo-liberal as in American as in world domination The value of giving things away for free Planting a tree under whose shade you will never sit Nepalese prayer flags How the sugar content of coca-cola varies from country to country The sweet Argentinian tooth Petro-dollars and gold //// “I’ve got stuff in storage lots of stuff stuff that I’m looking to freecycle what kind of stuff do you need?” he asks “warm clothes for winter” “great we’ll work it out” “I’ll link you guys up” MC says she means with the email //// Esteban has brought Havanna chocolates back from Argentina we have one each for dessert they’re melt-your-face sweet

Thanks Esteban, iou1

#iou1 conversation – Hussein, store manager at TFC

It’s been a few weeks I’ve been trying to have The Conversation with the store manager at TFC every time I go in there to do my shopping – it’s where I do my grocery shopping I purchase tomatoes courgettes aubergine carrots onions peppers hummus-in-a-large-tub goats-cheese-as-a-treat (but not often cos I eat it too quickly when I get home) tins of borlotti-kidney-butter beans chopped tomatoes and sometimes dates figs dried apricots walnuts (but not often cos I eat them too quickly too) – but whenever I’m there, it’s the assistant store manager not the manager who’s there and the assistant store manager says I need to speak to the manager to tell him about the project and finally he’s there //// “Can I tell you about my project?” I ask and he says “Come over here where I’m working” “It’ll take five minutes” he was stacking cans of chopped tomatoes – not the ones I get another brand – “Come over here and you can talk and I can continue to work” – so I give him The Conversation as he’s stacking cans //// “That’s social currency” says another customer “Sorry to interrupt” says the other customer – I was talking about porridge about how when my housemate makes porridge in the morning she gives me some and I owe her one – “but what you’re talking about it’s social currency we use it in Turkey it’s like money” – the store manager knows him he’s a regular – “if he comes into my store and needs my help I know him I trust him” for a moment all three of us are in fluid conversation “it’s like with socialism but the other one what’s it called?” “capitalism?” “yes capitalism!” he says “you can’t get round it” the other customer moves away to get some mushrooms “so you started off as a theatre director and now you’re asking for things?” “It’s all connected” I say but I see that he is busy he’s still stacking tomatoes but he wants to get on with his day and he can’t give me tomatoes he doesn’t see it really he’s not on board with it really and he wants to get on with his day “if there was another way someone would have found it” he says so I thank him for taking the time to chat to me and I introduce myself “Ben” and he smiles “Hussein” and I shake him by the forearm because he’s wearing gloves

#iou1 conversation – Daniel Bye

“The Conversation” is when I tell people about the #iou1 project. That’s what I’ve decided. Last night, I had The Conversation with Daniel Bye; he seemed like a good person to talk to because he’s written and performed in a show about money. Also he seems to be pretty switched on in general and to know about stuff. After speaking to him I decided that I would document the project by writing an Account of each Conversation within 24 hours of having it. Also, at some point in The Conversation I will ask the person to whom I’m speaking to give me something (something they feel is theirs to give). I didn’t do this explicitly last night (Dan, if you’re reading this, you can give me money here, or drop me an email if you want to donate other stuff), but from now on, I will. Like all the Accounts on my blog, the Account of The Conversation is for people who weren’t there, but mostly for those who were.

#iou1 conversation – Daniel Bye – an account

In the foyer of the Oval House chatting to Rachel “I’m here to see Daniel” “Behind You!” she says and so he is sitting in the corner eating hummus off a plate “Should I leave you to your meeting?” says Dan’s partner [I’ve forgotten your name, sorry] “No, no, it’s a conversation, right?” “Yes” I say and I give him The Conversation //// What strikes me most – the thing now that strikes me most – in retrospect – as now I remember it – is how he wondered about his Dad and said his Dad would like the barefaced-ness of it of asking for something and when asked “why should I give anything to you – specifically to you?” to say “Because I asked” //// “I agree with you” he said – he meant that he agreed with my assessment – broadly agreed at least with my assessment as I had put it to him then – “but how to get people on board?” “One Conversation at a time” I said and he seemed to like that seemed to like the what-was-it-he-called-it the “monumental-ness” – was that the word he used I think he used a better word – he used it in reference to a project of Harry Giles’ not dissimilar to my own – whatever word he used he liked the idea of trying to overthrow capitalism one Conversation at a time