Thursday, 22 January 2009

Thanks a million

The London news is all a-buzz today over a pair of £30million squats in Mayfair.

Times like these serve of course as good opportunities to engage the usual general public. The Evening Standard vendor I chatted with about the headlines of his newspaper was taken aback that squatting was legal in England and that I was a squatter (I didn't look like one, he thought, ie. dirty-looking). Although he wouldn't be one to squat himself, he did approve of living rent-free, saying that rent only benefitted landlords and "the system".

Here are some press snippets :

"Squatters set up home in Duke of Westminster's £30million Park Lane mansions" the Daily Mail proclaims, referring to the band of squatters within as hippies, activists, freeloaders and stragglers.

The Sun is appalled that squatters are living rent-free, just yards from Madonna's house!

Meanwhile, just doors away is the £22.5million squat at Clarges Mews, which has been taken over by a group of artists known as Da! Collective, operating here as the Temporary School of Thought. Although this time round they are choosing to shun the mainstream media, they were interviewed in November and December 2008. The commenters of this Evening Standard article think squatters should be locked up!

Unconcerned with eviction, the School are holding open days, where anyone can attend workshops ranging from welding to "laughter", as well as live music, films and discussions. Photographs of the squat can be viewed here and here. Wonderful stuff, and a breath of fresh air from the more politically-focused squats I've been in of late.

Here here to more energised debate.