Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Flux off

The squat, circa now :

Toilet? Check
Running water? Check
Lighting? Check
Heating? Check

Living in an ordinary house now? Check

Except, it doesn't feel right. There has definitely been a noticeable shift in house atmosphere in the last few days. The word "stability" may be the culprit.

Most of the DIY has now been completed, save for hot water, paint jobs, furniture building and a working shower. We have squatter neighbour friends two doors away whose presence somehow allows us to relax. The majority of the residents in our council block have been shipped out, so Sitex visitations have stopped. We now have a dual-front door entry system, thanks to police bullying. We're each taking it in turns to stay in.

This is all good news, of course, and in many ways the successful outcome of what you hope all squats will be -- a safe, comfortable and fully working house. But by turning out this way, much of the intrigue feels lost. The risk/agitation factor has gone. What has kept us engaged, galvanised us to problem solve on the fly, motivated us to question our water/electricity habits, meddled with our relaxation time and forced us to endure in unkind pitch black conditions has retreated into the background without telling us -- and we want it back!

It's not that we're ungrateful for what we have, but we took nothing for granted back then. The house kept us guessing. A constant state of impromptu education and philosophy. Fury, anxiety and joy alternating at rapid speed. A house in total flux.

We need that discomfort to remind us that we are squatting, lest we forget, lest we became complacent and comfortable, lest we become bloated on ignorance.

You come to miss walking into a cold dark house and rummaging around for a candle, or being pissed off at having to pay £50 for a handful of plumbing, or going to the pub across the road for the toilet, or trying to describe what Denzo tape is to a shop assistant when you don't know it is called Denzo tape. Our neighbours were more involved in our day-to-day, for example with electrical advice or the use of their hob. The squat kept us present, in the moment, uncomfortable. Not sure if it does anymore.

Maybe if we're so good at renovating squats, we could do it for a living!

Is the party over now or has it just begun?