A blog for her friends to check that she's still alive, when she's been missing for a while, and what she's whinging about now.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

A Working Class Hero is Something to Be

First thing I thought of when I woke up is, 'Fucking Hell, Kathy's dead.' It's sinking in more today. Yesterday was shocking and, by the evening, when the PG Society were all logging in to read the announcement and respond, I was getting upset. But it was coming out as stress - blink the tears away before they fall, html another page of the Witchgrove web-site, quick! Today, I've just let myself feel it.

That isn't to say that I've actually done what I've felt like doing a few times today, ie sob my heart out like there's no tomorrow. But I've considered the possibility of doing it, and I have let the tears fall, as long as no-one was looking, and it was only one or two. I'm no good at crying in front of an audience.

Ivy Wolfmoon, from Witchgrove, went and asked a Jehovah's Witness friend for us about whether flowers are appropriate. The friend informed her that they were, so it was decided on the PG Society that Paul Bailey was going to sort it out, as it's easier for him to nip into town. Then Mike Fullen called me and he said that Kathy left word that she didn't want flowers, she wanted any money which would have gone on flowers to go to St Mary's Hospice in Selly Oak instead. So the PG Society quickly amended that to us putting together a donation and I'll write a cheque and take it with me to the memorial.

The memorial is in Kingdom Hall, in Highgate, Birmingham. Birmingham. I fucking hate Birmingham. In particular, I hate... read fear... driving through Birmingham and a quick scut on multimap informs me that Highgate is on the south side. Joy. Train and bus then. But if Kathy could come to Wolverhampton for me, I can go to Birmingham for her.

I've been thinking about her more or less incessantly all day. I keep turning over scenes in my head. The time when we went to Whitmore Reans for Laura's quiz, parked up by the Avion Centre, then walked around the streets looked for St Andrew's Church. It was only after about quarter of an hour wandering around that a passing woman led us back to where we'd started. If either one of us had turned around after getting out of my car, we would have noticed that we'd parked outside the church.

That night too, me going outside for a fag and Kathy following me. She asked for one and I said, 'I didn't know you smoked.' She told me that she hadn't smoked in 30 years, but she fancied one now. We stood there, freezing to death in the ice and snow, putting the world to rights - her telling me about how often she nearly said sod the doctorate and just went back to being what society wanted the like of me and her to be. I asked her why she was doing it and she said because I'm interested in the subject and because I want my daughters to know that if they want something, they should go for it.

Then driving back to the station that night and Kathy telling me about when she and a friend became plumbers and handi-women. Back in the days when Feminism was radical, they'd come up with the idea that some women didn't want strange blokes in their houses, and Kathy's the sort to pick up a tool-box and just work it out.

It wasn't long on that when she came into my office and this rant happened: Lifting the Ceiling. She was keeping a scrap book of things which mentioned her invention in the newspapers, but there was very little at that point. I think her printing that out was about the third thing in it. She read it through before I posted it and make a couple of factual corrections, then I sent it off. I forwarded to her the responses from Witchgrove. All I did was make her rant relevant to the Grove and put it in my words, but the 'lifting the ceiling' part of it was her phrase and the rant was all hers.

I was also remembering when all the politics happened with the PG Society and the GSO. I'd posted to list earlier and at that point, I was outside having a fag and calming down. It was only as I was coming back in that I noticed Kathy standing a few feet away. She hadn't wanted to disturb me! *rolls eyes* I'd met her before, but that was in a work context, this was the first time as what was about to be friends. She nervously gave me her subs, the first to do it, and said that she would be a paid up member of the PG Society - basically saying that this is a worthwhile thing and if I was prepared to brave the GSO politics, she would do her bit by becoming a member. In relative terms, that was like the first dude saying, 'I'm Spartacus', and before we knew it, there was a whole chorus behind her.

There was no way, politically, that I could have been President. I didn't even consider it and that was cool, because I know from other situations that I don't make a good leader. I make a shit hot second in command, but I have panic attacks if I think I'm in charge. Instead, I held the politics at bay, while they built up the Society. I ended up chairing the elections and Kathy became President. I sent a post to list saying that I now gracefully bow out and become a simple member. The resounding chorus from President Kathy, Treasurer Paul and Secretary Paula was 'like Hell you do!'

I was in on all of the meetings. Me and Kathy sitting there with Fair Trade coffee, putting the world to rights, waiting for Paul and Paula to arrive. The decisions we made were a consensus of four. Those early days seemed to have an energy of their own - all those people turning up for the first get together, coming from Telford and everywhere.

I remember Kathy's speech and how her nerves didn't sound in her voice at all, telling everyone that she might have been elected El Presidento, but the Society was all of us. I was only going to stay an hour. I stayed all night.

The last time I actually spoke to her, I'd just organized a hotel in Leeds for her to stay in, to attend a conference on behalf of the PG Society. The last time we had an e-mail conversation was in April/May, I've worked out. She was more interested in my whiplash than spilling the details on her illness. That was pretty played down. I thought she was saying that she needed to give up the Presidency because she was ill and likely to be for a little while, then she'd be back. She didn't let on once that she was dying. She just went on about my whiplash.

The university are on about naming a wing of the new building for her. I've got to ask the family about it on Saturday. After work, I went around members of the PG Society, who'd e-mailed to say they wanted to make a donation. Paul Bailey had said what room at what time, so I meandered in there to find a load of students. He was lecturing! I immediately assumed professional University staff member interupting mode, but Paul wasn't having any of it. He just hugged me in front of them.

I think my eyes filled up after leaving each of them. They did the same each time I walked past Costa's in Queen Square, and the Varsiety; and I couldn't stop them pouring down in the middle of bloody Clinton's, choosing a Sympathy card. I went for one with purple flowers - purple being her favourite colour - and one about being an inspiration, because she was and is.

If I grow up to be half the person she was, then I did my bit for this world.

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

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