Week 14 is the week of Glastonbury and the return of the #JusticeforLB flag. Today’s post is written by the Lawthom-Goodleys, Dan, Rebecca, Ruby and Rosa, and we share it as they make their way to Glastonbury. Keep your eyes peeled for them and do share your pics #JusticeforLB #107days.
Going to festivals is one of our family’s true loves. We love the mess, the carnage, and the mass humanity of these places. And the cider is not bad too. Glastonbury is, of course, the mother of all festivals and we have managed, luckily, to get our Northern souls down south for a number of years. For the majority of those trips our main concern, prior to driving the long trip down from Yorkshire to Glasto, has been the weather. You see, we don’t mind the rain. But if it pisses down all the time, everyday, without respite, then it can be very hard work (to say the least). We find rain and latex tend to go badly together. But less about our party outfits. This year, our main concerns are two-fold.
First, we are worried about our flagpole: does it boast the endurance and flexibility to last the hours of use of an extended weekend? The reason for our initial worry? Well, the latest flagpole incarnation (bought from the reasonably priced and well stocked Pontypridd Caravan and Camping – Google it) has the huge responsibility of hosting the JusticeforLB flag. The great dude’s flag and face found fame at last year’s Glasto: meeting many festival revelers and getting posted on the front page of the BBC Glastonbury website. In a tiny way we were able to contribute to the wondrous – though of course totally unacceptable to have to happen in the first place – JusticeforLB campaign. We were able to share LB’s story with total strangers. We found ourselves in some important conversations with Glasto goers. Not one person showed disinterest. Not one person suggested to us that we were ruining their hedonistic time off from work. Each and everyone we spoke to wanted to know about LB’s story. And they were on side. And, when they said their goodbyes, they were happy to shake hands or hug and agree with the social justice that the campaign was (and still is) seeking.
But this leads us to our second concern as we return this year: a quandary over explanation. How do we possibly explain the incredibly insensitive, depoliticized and inhuman lack of institutional response to LB’s death? A year on from the JusticeforLB campaign and now into a new campaign that pushes for the LBBill (amongst other things), how do we explain to our newfound Glastonbury friends (ok, maybe acquaintances and some of them inebriated at that) that we are still now, in June 2015, seeking justice for LB and his family? Moreover, how do we put across to people that LB’s life remains violently under-valued by institutional lack of responsibility and accountability? That replies from MPs to campaigners’ requests to support the bill are carbon copy party written responses? How do we push the agenda as far as it should go: that people with learning disabilities continue to be considered as less than human in our society? And, here is the nagging anxiety, how easy will it be to push the message of JusticeforLB that disabling society needs to change NOW: especially when so many of us are still trying to get our heads around the fact that loads of people (ok, mostly in England) voted for a government regime that is putting #austerityasideology before the real needs of all citizens? How do we articulate the key message of the campaign: Justice for all the dudes and dudettes?
We think we can address the first concern. We have bought the flagpole from South Wales so, as Rebecca rightly reminds us, the quality will be second to none. Furthermore, this year we will make sure that we don’t ask a total stranger to hold the flagpole for five minutes while we pop to the washroom (an hilarious euphemism for any loo at Glasto). They might drop it. And then scarper; leaving the pole on the ground by the John Peel stage (just before Clean Bandit) only to be found on our return. Like last year. Tossers. So, for this year, only members of the Jones, Hopkins, Dennis and Lawthom-Goodley families are entrusted with that job and the following clear instruction: hold the bloody flag steady (and do not let it waver) nor give it to someone who pretends to like Clean Bandit (or worse, Paul Weller). Or else, we will steal your dry poncho (or even worse not buy you cheesy chips later).
The second concern is trickier to address. But here is an initial idea. We will start the process of chatting about #JusticeforLB and the #LBBill by the Tony Benn Tower in the old Left Field stage. This is a wonderful space – the truly sacred space of the festival – an ideal location for a discussion. A chat. And a dialogue that seeks not to be throwaway but tricky, shitty, difficult and emotional. But fundamentally a conversation about what it means to be valued as a human being. Never have we missed Tony more than on the day after the 2015 election result. His clarity of expression about equality and the need to contest oppression has been conspicuous in its absence. We reckon that Mr Benn would have been a huge supporter of LB’s campaign and his legacy. And so we will start our meetings with Glastonbury right there by the Left Field stage that Tony always owned like the rock star that he truly was. In dreamland we would, of course, find ourselves hearing the background noise of The Divine Comedy playing a secret set… but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
So, please look out for coverage on the BBC: to see LB again flying the flag for social justice. And of course, keep writing to those MPs. And ask for bespoke responses. Surely a little humility from them will not go a miss.
And the good news is this… we have decided that the general forecast for Glasto is going to be absolutely wonderful. We are expecting tropical conditions: all day and everyday of the festival.
We’ll let you know how we get on.
Dan, Rebecca, Ruby and Rosa