What a fierce winter. Bid and I agree it is the coldest winter for years. We are now guarding the Adelphi Theatre, of a different period from Scarborough House, but glorious in its Moorish decor of star lined roofs and twisted barley sugar pillars. I find myself more and more against the mindless destruction of the beauties of the past. What do they want to erect in its stead? Grey anonymous office buildings or concrete slab apartments, which Bid tells me have a built-in obsolescence so they can be taken down and rebuilt in fifteen years. We have our mohair rugs, our thermoses of tea, our mobile phones. We pull our woolly hats down over our ears and launch into what Bid calls a’good old chin wag.’
I have been in prison! What would my father say? ‘I don’t know what’s got into you. You’ll lose your job in the public service. You can’t have a criminal record. I never thought I’d see the day when you’d be hanging around with Communists. You know what the Church says about them.’ And what would he say if he knew I rarely went to Mass now? I’m just too busy. But I won’t lose my job. It was only a very short stay in the lock-up, as we old lags call it. It happened like this. The Council had, against the wishes of the residents, sold the Pitt Street gardens to a developer. Now I know they say the Pitt Street gardens are small and dark and overgrown (because they don’t look after them, having wanted to build a swimming pool and community centre there for some time). But in the centre of those gardens is a mighty Moreton Bay Fig Tree that is (I think) hundreds of years old. Bid and I as plant lovers put our names forward to protect that tree. We didn’t take our chairs or mohair rugs. They gave us orange boiler suits and chains and we joined some large Builders’ Union men in chaining ourselves to the tree. We stood in the rain all Saturday afternoon and their wives and friends came round with tea and sandwiches. I had told Sophie from the office we would be there and she (just out if curiosity I’m sure) came by with her boyfriend Jon and a parcel of hot chips, which I must say tasted delicious in the cold night air. In the early hours of the morning when we were dozing we heard the sound of heavy machinery. They rammed through the perimeter of the park and drove right up to our tree. We linked arms and braced our selves, but they had bolt cutters and were too many in relation to our numbers. Soon we were pulled away from the tree, and I found myself kicking and biting and pinching. When the police came to restore order they arrested the whole lot of us and took us down to the lock up. They did give us a cup of tea but we had to wait around for hours while they took statements. In the end we were let off with a caution. Bid drove me home in her little car and we gave each other a hug before we parted. On Monday when I got to work Sophie was already there and my fame had preceded me. They all clustered around me while I told them of the night raid and our arrest. ‘You’re so brave,’ said Sophie. I could see Ern and Des weren’t too impressed. They don’t think much of the Unions.
to be concluded next week