A Day in the Life

Today’s single sheet, special issue of Guild Gazette includes this account of life in the occupation by ‘Our man at the sit-in’:

Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.

One got up of the floor; the bed was a highly luxurious carpet and a sleeping bag; the comb and the head? The comb, a broken, semi-toothless lump of plastic; the head, highly muzzy from little sleep.

Yes, the floors were hard, even though the carpets were thick, and few people got any sleep during the whole of the occupation. Towards the end people were wandering around in a permanent daze, a sleepless stupor.

The next thing to do – wander across the foyer to the food table, for a cup of coffee and a jam butty. It’s often eaten quickly, as there’s a rush on to make the morning lectures or tutorials.

A return, as soon as possible, to a seminar. It could have been on racialism, Marxism, or Northern Ireland – the topics were many and varied, and as by this time people were waking up, the conversation and discussion was interesting and intellectual.

The afternoon comes and worries are rife – rumours fly in all directions. “The fuzz are here,” ”Burchnall has served injunctions,” “Pete Brown’s just come.”

Emergency mass meetings are called, and little is decided, but to sit and wait – there was nothing else to be done.

Meanwhile, many people during the day had been in the special study room, well away from record players and radios. This room was used very frequently. Many people did a lot of work that week.

The evening came and people drifted across to the Union for food, and drifted back to Senate House. The normal evenings were generally spent talking, discussing, playing cards or working. The nightly mass meeting was a must. Policy decisions were taken here.

Later in the evening the usual comment goes round – kettle’s on the boil. No coffee or hot drink ever seemed to transpire from this. Perhaps the kettle in question was old and thoroughly clapped out.

The high-spot of the week came on Saturday, the Sit-In Dance. Music, weird lights, and couples in compromising positions pervaded the place. Party games were organised, including a ”Pin the phallus on a good old friend of ours.” A rather crude game, but good for morale – especially taking the phallus off once it had been put on.

It was a good sit-in from the social side. Morale was certainly very high and there was much to do. No one, despite the fun and frivolity, ever forgot why they were in there. Through discussion and talk, people got to know much more about each other.


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life”

  1. In respect of contingencies such as food, it is my recollection that a Steering Group of ten was elected in the hour after the actual occupation.
    This included leading players such as Peter and Jon and also included a couple of first year scientists. When the Sit In finished, the University used that Steering Group membership as the basis of its disciplinary response. It was these ten who were punished or victimised (remember number five of our demands

    John Crawley

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