Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More on the place we sleep, Salters

So many things have been happening to Declan and I over the past couple of weeks that now I have to check my blog to get the dates straight: on the night of 29 May, while we were asleep in our sleeping bags, two police officers and two workers from the homeless organisation Broadway came to visit us in what turned out to be an encounter of surreal proportions (see blog “Last night something surreal happened”); on Monday and Tuesday alone of last week we received nine confirmations that copies of Prof. James Fetzer’s RENDER UNTO DARWIN, for review to be published on the NAC website, hadn’t been received (see “Abortion a ‘hot button’ issue”); last Thursday night, as soon as we arrived at our sleeping pitch at about 9.00pm, somebody started hammering over our heads on what seemed like a plank of wood on a hard concrete floor and continued on and off, hour in, hour out throughout the night (see “Salters back in the spotlight”). Oh, and there is also yesterday’s blog: “More on the hacking of the NAC website”.

Yesterday evening we encountered yet another new situation: when we were, as usual, in a secluded little park at the back of Salters Hall – the same place we wash in the early hours of the morning – a security guard came down and in a very bullish manner insisted that we leave; he must have thought we had come down in the last shower of rain and were not aware we were frequenting a public space. As I keep mentioning, Declan continues to wash in the street as a result of harassment and intimidation by other homeless in the Catholic Sisters of Mercy Dellow Day Centre and the Catholic Manna Day Centre, which he has been doing since 10 April last year, and I have been doing since 27 February (see blog of 14 May “Letter to Archbishop Vincent Nichols”)

Of course when this morning I am told – while waiting for my coffee refill in the canteen of the Dellow – that I should “lap dance for donations”, I take this as a compliment – Declan was told by a homeless only recently in the canteen that we are “in need of body guards”; normally it’s we are “the last of the Mohicans” or “two submarines in the middle of the Atlantic ocean”, and occasionally it’s “go back to where you came from” (see blog of 29 May “Last night something surreal happened”).

It’s not all bad news though. Not only have we received our first review of RENDER UNTO DARWIN (see blog 8 June “We have our first review”), but I am making great strides off-line on the section in “What we do” titled “Defend embryonic stem cell research” with reference to the 2008 World Stem Cell Summit – the 2009 Summit will take place in Baltimore, Maryland on 21-23 September.

In fact, yesterday I thought little of having to do the work twice: I was no sooner into the 2008 Summit ten minutes when all my work was wiped out (a first in over two and a half years); I still don’t have a clue how I could have done it! As I also keep mentioning, we frequently run into difficulties in the council’s Idea Store Whitechapel – located only a few minutes from the huge East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre. Only a few weeks ago I was bullied by two security guards into vacating the computer I had booked the previous day, which I refused to do (see blog of 13 May “Letter to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council”). And Declan is still emailing every single evening the manager of this library, Asab Ali, and the head of Cultural Services in Tower Hamlets Council with our computer bookings for the next day because members of staff generally refuse to confirm the bookings with a signature, printed name, initials or mark of any description (see blog of 22 May “Sherry Jones: ‘We must speak out for free speech’”).

This is one of my favourite videos from the 2008 World Stem Cell Summit – “The History and Future of Stem Cells – Legal, Regulatory and Ethical Issues”, a talk from Alta Charo, Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison: