Friday, June 05, 2009

Salters back in the spotlight

We have now received our tenth email confirming that a copy of Prof James Fetzer’s "Render unto Darwin" - for a review to be published on the NAC website - hasn’t been received. It didn’t occur to us that the books were not arriving, but it sure puts Thursday night of last week in context (see blog of 29 May “Last night something surreal happened”) – it was Tuesday of last week that it was first suggested in an email to Declan that he ought to inquire as to whether the book had been received by anyone. Well, last night things at our sleeping pitch were quite outrageous: as soon as we arrived 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. The racket was something else!

Salters Company, who owns the building, describes itself as a Great City Livery Company very largely devoted to charity; it also plays an important part in the system of local government in the City of London, reflecting its historical roots. In fact, communications started out cordial between us: the company not only fund raises for science education (Declan’s petition to the UN on research cloning of embryos and stem cells has been signed by 591 scientists and academics, including 24 Nobel laureates, and this despite many months of serious spamming), but runs a project for the homeless.

Since January we have been sleeping at the back of Salters Hall on a derelict highwalk (photos below). For some months prior to that we slept about twenty paces from the front entrance of the building, down some twelve steps; and prior to that for almost two years in a porch at street level. I should perhaps mention that we moved to the highwalk after the cleaner had hosed us out on several occasions after we got up at 4.20am (see here, for example). I am actually prepared to break any court order that would put me back on street level: within two weeks of sleeping in the street, somebody sat on the right hand side of my face (see here); I was grabbed by the ankles while I was asleep and dragged out of the two-step porch and down the pavement two or three metres, then a few hours later I was kicked in the back (see here); a guy repeatedly kicked me in the chest and shoulders as his mates stood by (see here); and I was urinated on (see here). I would actually feel safer in a cell!

Anyway, while we await our first review Declan says he is going around with eyes in the back of his head – yesterday he was informed by a homeless in the canteen of the Catholic Sisters of Mercy Dellow Day Centre that we are “in need of bodyguards” (for more on the Dellow Centre, see blog of 14 May “Letter to Archbishop Vincent Nichols”). For my part, I am so excited about the prospect of our first review that yesterday afternoon I did the code for the presentation; reviews will be presented in the same manner as faculty staff here (when you click on a faculty member, his/her biography opens up). Within an hour of receipt of the first review, I will have it up!