The Market

16 09 2012

A story of  love and rotting fruit 

The Market is based on real events in Europe in the early 1980s when idealism ran riot. Squatting was commonplace in England, Germany and the Netherlands, but the laws in each country interpreted the act of opening and occupying a condemned building differently.

In England it became a war, usually between idealistic young anarchists and uniforms and workers representing the authorities. London was a battleground. At the time thousands of people were homeless despite the existence of thousands of abandoned and condemned houses.

One such area contained a square of five-storey houses in south-central London, near the Thames river. The 18th century square had been bought by the Inner London Education Authority but they never had the funds to develop it. Between the 1950s and the 1980s it was managed by the local housing authority who decided to move tenants out, a decision that allowed squatters to move in.

Author Robert Allen was one of the squatters, specialising in opening houses and establishing with several others a cafe in a corner house. At the time New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms, a short walk from the square, allowed people to take away damaged fruit and vegetables. The cafe specialised in hearty soup and artisan bread.

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by Robert Allen

Kevin O’Hara suppressed a yawn, threw back the duvet and rolled off the worn mattress. He had gone to bed with most of his clothes on – thermal long pants and vest, and thin jumper – and had only to pull on a pair of clean jeans. From beside the mattress, under a pile of dirty clothes, he fumbled for his running shoes. They were scuffed, dirty. The soles had been worn smooth by habitual use. He stretched his limbs and felt a few bones crack, stepping lightly over the bare floorboards. The aging wood creaked, all the way down the bare stairs. A sudden gust whistled through the gap between the heavy wooden door and the loose door frame, rattling it loudly. He sighed.

“Fuck.”

He walked into the kitchen. On the washboard beside a dilapidated fridge he picked up an old kettle, placed the spout under the cold tap, and turned the tap on full. Fast hard water sprayed him, but enough gushed into the kettle to quarter fill it. When he placed the kettle on the stove, he thought he heard a thud. In a moment of indecision he swayed towards the door to his right, a box of matches to his left. He lit the gas under the kettle. A burst of angry thuds shook the front door.

“Hold your crazy horses,” he shouted.

He opened the door and the gale disappeared. Outside it was still dark. A street lamp cast its glare. Large damp spots decorated the cracked pavements. “Thunder, thunder, thunder,” he chanted.

“Kevin?” a young woman on the doorstep said, uncertainty rising in her soft voice.

Thunder in the air,” he said matter-of-factly. “You’re early. What’s the rush, hey?”

“Are you ready?” It was Linda Smallwood’s way of intimidating her friends. She was wrapped in a thick army overcoat several sizes too big for her.

“Yeah, after some coffee,” Kevin said, ignoring her impetuosity . “C’mon in.”

He turned into the hallway.

Kevin picked up the box of matches, pulled a matchstick out, struck it and held it like an Olympic torch. Its flame dimmed. Then he saw that the ring was lit.

“Suckee, fuckee?”

She suggested it so casually he thought he hadn’t heard her properly. She opened the overcoat and shrugged it off her brittle shoulders to reveal a garish display of burnt-red mini skirt, crumpled forest-green half-jacket over a jet-black body suit that clung to her diminutive but shapely frame. She wore child’s size heavy boots laced tightly on elfin feet. Her auburn hair was tied closely to her head in an untidy bun. Tiny gold dragons hung from her ear lobes. A golden ring pierced her lower lip.

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The Invisible Deal

13 09 2012

The St. Louis Forestry Division’s contract with a private company appears to have vanished, taking the credibility of City Hall with it.

by Bill Newmann

A sign at the gates of the city’s Hall Street composting facility

St. Louis Composting Inc., the private company that accepts wood waste from the city, has been operating without a valid contract since the beginning of September, the Journal of Decomposition has learned.

Despite numerous requests made this week, City Hall could not produce a copy of the current contract between the Forestry Division and St. Louis Composting.

Forestry signed a deal with the company three years ago when the city agency decided to privatize its composting operation. St. Louis Composting submitted the successful bid. On September 1, 2009, the firm entered into a three-year contract worth up to an estimated $750,000, according to city documents. The agreement expired on August 31 of this year.

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