An excerpt from Statement of Occupation
So the reality we found was one of carefully speculated abandon and ruin. The water pipes were open leaving water to run through two floors. Everything was soaked and stained with mould. The toilets and shower were smashed. The wiring was ripped out and walls were smashed. No-one cared about the place. There was only one thing they cared about.
Standing in midst of the debris that early Saturday morning, we almost turned back. We almost abandoned our dream. We breathed in mould and looked at each other for a number of minutes. In silence. But we are dreamers... and what is the point of a dream that cannot be turned into something real? With a passion we put our backs into the work. Others soon got involved and we fixed up the building. We brought fresh air and human warmth back inside. It's a work in progress. There are always two questions - What needs doing? What can you do? Actually, there is a third more vital question: Are you enjoying yourself?
What is normal in these days?
Early on, we had the unfortunate presence of two policemen inside the place with all their usual prejudices: squatters are junkies, squatters are all unemployed, squatters are this, squatters are that. They made it clear that they thought we were just rats. But who cares what they think!
'Why can't you live like normal people?', they asked. But what is normal in these days? Speculating on a ruined building whilst others are homeless or can't afford a decent place? Does it seem normal surviving another round of the working week? Labouring - commuting - shopping - resting - back to work. Some money but no time. A little time but no real enthusiasm. A two week holiday as some kind of escape. Yes, this is the normality of ourselves too!
It was at this end point of the policeman's questioning, that one bright burning spirit among us replied: 'We are dreamers...' and the words hung there, in silence, with nothing else needing to be added. Neither seeking approval nor apologising for what we are, this was a moment that we could have almost let go of but instead our good friend had let something loose amongst us all. Something that remains in the air. It pervades the building. It inspires. It fixes. It rebels.
As dreamers, we try to refuse what passes for being 'normal' because no-one is 'normal'. We try to make alternatives to the daily grind. We try to open up escape routes here, now. Everyone knows that this grind cannot continue. We are all looking for a way out. For us, it cannot be an individual solution as we are all in this together. So the dream we dream is a collective one.