On the way home today it occurred to me, due to the elevated temperatures we are experiencing at the end of the world, to buy an ice cream. I stopped, because it was convenient, at a large frozen food store, browsed the available treats, selected some blueberry cones, and quickly cycled home. It was only while sitting at home eating this ice cream that I wondered at the whole process I had gone through, or rather, the processes that had resulted in me eating that ice cream. To take one small example, the ice cream came with a small plastic cap on it. At some point in the past, some person I will never, ever meet, designed that small plastic cap: the exact curves of it, the thickness of it, the way it fitted into the paper wrapping. Having protected the peak of the cone through its journey from some factory, staffed by who knows who, to my home, it went straight into the bin.
I’ve had many moments like this through the years, but the impact never fades: I did not choose this world, nor for the most part do I know how to reject it. Refusing ice cream will not help. I have been seeing more magpies around Londres. They also do not choose this world, or reject it. They simply feast on what we leave behind. We are all magpies, here at the end of the world. I don’t say that to condemn. I like magpies. But this is a strange system we are caught in, and consent seems to be irrelevant. I wouldn’t mind so much, but I don’t think that we’re all magpies: some did choose this, or at least they chose it more than I did.
Efforts to withdraw consent can be seen as rather eccentric behaviour. I’m comfortable with that. The renters group meeting I went to last night – in some small way a pathway towards refusal of consent – was productive and enjoyable. An alcoholic with mental health problems interrupted us, twice. Once a group of teenage girls invaded the venue to do impromptu craft projects, but quickly tired of it and left us to it. We are to target Newham. It is not a place I know well, but I’m happy to get to know it. I wonder how many residents will agree with us that a renters union is a good way to – in a small but significant sense – withdraw consent? Time will test our powers of persuasion and the will and ability to say ‘no’.
Now I am off to the house of the Maltese Coder and the Dissident Pea. The Red Flash will also be there, and a few others. Convivial summer nights at friends’ houses do have my consent. Curiously these appear as optional extras, which makes zero sense.