Saturday, March 10, 1984


We moved into the squat today. I stayed behind at 44A with our packed and parceled belongings waiting for ‘John the Van’ to call and pick it up while Barry and Lee met Morris and Keith and the other Watermouth Housing Association volunteers in the Pembroke Arms at noon. Then, the “25-strong group” (according to the Herald) trooped up to the Vicarage and gained entry through the hole in the basement door.

By the time I arrived in the van the house was the scene of great activity.

Morris and Keith and others stood around in the debris-strewn hall talking while the rest of us explored the house, shouting to one another with child-like enthusiasm. I saw a few neighbours with mouths agape as we removed boards from the windows and came and went on crucial errands. Keith called the police and the bespectacled and quietly polite policeman took our names. Our small army of WHA volunteers and Art College friends set to sweeping the rooms, removing the litter and deposits of four years of dereliction, and by the end of the day we’d swept most of the rooms clean and taken the boards off most of the windows.

The police returned twice more, apparently at the behest of a few outraged neighbours, and when they came back they were aggressive. One of their number railed at us through the basement door, threatening us with the nick if we weren’t out in five minutes, before it was revealed to him that one of his colleagues had been round earlier and OK’d our occupation. Oculus Bancorp security made an appearance too, but loss of face for them also. Morris gave a discreet wink in our direction as he fended them off.

Mattresses were unloaded from the van and we hauled them up to the topmost room (which will be my room). Barry went into town to buy a camping stove and Gav and I took two letters round to the Oculus building on Astlow Road, one from the “Movement for Fair Housing for Watermouth,” the other from us, ‘The Occupiers’, in which we declared our intentions. More neighbours came over to offer support and look around. Even the press arrived.

Morris came back late and is spending the night in case Oculus “tries any funny business.” He produced some dope from a small bag he’d tied around his bollocks (!), and is going to bed still clad in his snorkel parka.

I wonder how it will work out?

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