ONN Guest Blog: HOBO HILTON, Heir Apparant to St Pauls?
ONN Guest Blog: HOBO HILTON, Heir Apparant to St Pauls?
The Hobo Hilton, was a 6 floor massive squat in high holborn, central london, and probably, for a time was the “best squat in london” . No me, personally i don’t dirty my hands breaking buildings, i don’t do anything illegal, i just run the cabaret. The HH was very much an occupy-gestated project. It had that initial st pauls spirit of welcoming (nearly) all comers, and boy did they come, faces and names and faces without names that i knew or recognized from throughout the occupy year 1 period, people i liked, people i didn’t like,people that were competent and people that were cops. I mean i was living under the same roof as Kris O’Dwyerr, a fifth columnist par excellence IMO(and whats with spelling his name like that?”?). but i was cool with that, he only got the regular roust-a-bouting and practical jokes that everyone else got, he never turned up to any of the house meetings though ( which got my goat slightly) and he didn’t turn up to my cabaret, which was if i say so myself one of the finest blends of avant gard art, amateur dramatics, acrobatics, musical interludes, prop based AND character based improv and blistering political satire i. have. ever. seen. but one can hardly be neutral on the matter can one being the compere stage/floor manager and principal writer/producer. But for the 20 or so refugees stranded by Lincolns inn fields on that not so cold and rainy night it was a boon gift when our lord Arthur Jesus came back and gave us this building, and we were damned if we were going to squander it.
We didn’t want to limit ourselves with any single issue or group, though i personally would balk if any nationalist/facist/racist organization wanted to participate. ( in the final cabaret i burned some British union flags in a wok, in a skit about imperialism or something) but yeah. we had the Occupy, we had the Anonymous,We had Green Peace, we had the Philosophy Takeaway we had the Focal Local, We had the South American Solidarity Squad, we had the Bailiff Resistance Network. we had the Radical Inclusivist Front, Palestine, Quakernomics, Christianity uncut. , we had the the former boss f the bitcoin stock exchange and loads of the bitcoin and digital/hacking fraternity, i was in a room on the fifth floor and i shit you not it was like the big bang theory, they were all like , “and thee was a hole in the programming because it used this server engine and was vulnerable in the dot matrix flux……” you get the picture it was geeky as hell and i loved it.. because there was room for all that. There were 6 floors.
The Keys to making an activist/residential/party squat/anything. Compartmentalization, Front of House, Affability. Compartmentalization was so easy at first, you see we had lifts ( i said it was the best squat in london) we had say, meeting about biofuel. floor 2 north wing, this would be relayed to the desk (when my systems worked) , person would be whisked past any possible craziness that sometimes occur when lion-hearted, anti establishment dragoons live and rub and fight together, into a lift and to the floor where they would be greeted with hot drinks and milk and sugar. Part of the balance of the place was that those who were willing to shoplift from corporations, like the supermarkets, were encouraged to get coffee and tea and contribute that way along with their regular purloinings such as sweets and sirlon steaks, it being in central london you could get milk early in the morning from outside any number of ethically dodgy corporates and take the sugar from those tax avoiding starbuckians or trad-pub ruining wetherspoons. although sometimes we did get donations and did spend that on stuff as well. But it worked, then the lifts stopped working, (kris o dwyer may have broken them, maybe it was the messing about) but there were stairs, and that was good because people passed on stairs and that and tipped their hats and said good day, yeah there was someone who dropped tofu down them and made them smell. Not cool,Considerably less cool than breaking a wall buy throwing big heavy metal spears into walls as practice for cabaret but psh what you gonna do? throw em out on the street after a hastily convened kangaroo court. Nah, get too involved in that crime and punishment ting and you become like the man, man.
Front of house was something i like doing i can talk to anyone really pauper or prince, banker or builder. . though we had teething problems at the first the only two comfy chairs were at the reception so we had all manner of lollyggaggers “hanging out” listening to awful music and looking down at the floor and having shrill inward looking conversations pretending not to be seeing the person milling uncomfortably around the outer lobby. not being affable, i had to become a bit of a dick , i had to say Look Right Guys , This is Front of House and im not being a Nazi , and im not saying you cant drink a lager and chill and have a joint here but you have to be AFFABLE, that means talking, and eye contact, and answering the door. . And know which compartment things are going on. and lo i was called a fascist, and lo i did nearly drag someone over the desk and out of the door but he grabbed onto the desk so i couldn’t and i had to check myself, i just had to balance their lack of affability with mine, swamp Front of House with affability . Dilution factor was also important. But for a period we held it down and had some very well attended meetings, (it did chuff me a bit, to trump the cuts cafes opening night with our attendance, but they picked up later on activist hub rivalry isn’t it)
Tammy, Beefy Joey, Commonly Known as Dom, Arthur Jesus, Latif, Justin, Jason , Squirrell, Get a job rob (he was the one i nearly hauled over the desk), Linda, Kris, names that should mean something to you if you were down at the occupy sites. Some people were there for the project as whole, or particular part, or wanted company or wanted attractive young girls to leer at (kris o dwyer) or were sent to us because there was no room at the occupy inn (library) and some have just come to expect this because on the 15th of October last year something really cool did happen for a bit that warped a lot of people concepts of community, work , home, play, and activism. warped it for the better.
But i think what made it most an occupy offspring, Perhaps the heir apparent, was this melding of the activist base and the home and the venue. Thats what home came to mean to me and a lot of the other refugees young and old that grabbed vigorously the dream proffered to us at st pauls, For the kids man, that dropped out of their education and then were left high and dry, We want semi permanent protest encampments forever dammit.! for the protesters that like to protest but not endure the “tyranny of meetings”- (i personally fucking love meetings) Because that’s what st paul’s and by extension occupy was about. Occupying, Living there, being able to bang a pan on a wall and rouse 30 good activists to go fuck some shit up for a corrupt state/corporation. I think that’s why they sent 7 police vans when it was evicted ( i wasn’t there i was at demo for the travelers getting bit by police dogs yo-yes i am very hardcore) but someone got bottled by a bailiff !! 2 people got arrested, ( can we get occupy funding please for fines lol) The Hobo Hilton was fucking banging, and for anyone thinking of opening an activist hub remember. Compartmentalization, Affability and a Damn Good Cabaret are as vital than the sub-committee on safer space issues.