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
“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
A brief account:
A tour of the new flat //// Chilled out babies and rampaging toddlers //// What to do with people who don’t play by the rules //// Rituals, pigs and power //// If you don’t serve it in a bowl, is it still soup? //// The French Institute //// Coincidence and connections: Dom now living just down the road from where I grew up, Dom’s Granddad worked in social housing in Aldershot (tomorrow I’m going to Aldershot to work on a theatre project about social housing) //// The difference between haricot beans and baked beans //// New York New York //// Pretending to be friendly in order to be a shit //// Possible meanings of the French word “coquet” //// What is documentarianism? //// Do we owe our parents? //// Flatulence //// Many things happen at once //// A friend who will not want walk any longer //// The realism of dreams //// Why things don’t look like they look in the picture
Yesterday evening, I went on a group walk round bits of Southwark and Lambeth. Along the way, co-walkers talked about places and memories and ideas. It was organized by Different Skies, part of a postcards and poetry project about the area, its history, and how it is being affected by the housing crisis. For those who weren’t able to make it (and those who were), here is the line- up of some of the things we covered (not necessarily chronological, includes individual conversations as well as talks people made for the group)
Equestrian sculptures on Albert Embankment //// The dangers of amphibious vehicles //// Lambeth Council writing cease and desist letters to Clarence House //// Peter Stringfellow and Jeffrey Archer throwing house parties together //// The difference between a space which is used by the community around it and a space created by that community //// Merlin Fulcher composing poetry in the freezing cold //// The South London Pacific, formerly The Cock (a pub known as a drinking haunt for police officers) //// Petanque with Paddy Ashdown //// An instrumental rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile (Michael Jackson later recorded a version on the HIStory album, adds Richard Reynolds) //// Being able to put a face to Municipal Dreams //// Ted Hollamby and George Finch //// Becoming unhooked from reality in the private rental sector (a radio play) //// The Chaplin family’s connections to South America mirroring the Latin American community’s connection to the part of London where Chaplin grew up //// The mystery of the fake elephant //// Heygate Jungle //// Doing weird performance stuff while other people are living normal lives and having babies //// Why the English don’t know how to dance
Please feel free to add moments that were significant for you.