Dan Seeger was a Vietnam era conscientious objector. At that time, 50 years ago, COs had to answer numerous questions before exemption would be granted – one of which was:
‘Do you believe in a supreme being?’
In British law, even as far back as WW1, exemption was not reserved exclusively for religious objectors. But in US law it was.
A gleaming drum kit in front of a large wooden cross – right where I would usually set up my wooden crates… ‘Bert Brocklesby and the COs’ might sound like an early rock ‘n’ roll band – but they weren’t. What they were was a band of determined pacifists.
Then I notice that the drums are sitting on a square of carpet.
25th March 2018
Sunday morning. A snow covered landscape bathed in glittering March sunshine. Old Chatham, upstate New York.
The venue for Sunday afternoon’s performance.
After eggs and hash browns, my host Joseph takes me to the Meeting House, a few minutes drive away – where we have an hour or so to get the sound checked and set-up before we make way for the 11am Quaker Meeting for Worship. Only we don’t get it set up. Connectivity and compatibility issues again. Absence of an important cable. Absence of anyone who can help us out.
Friday morning – March 16th
Stomach still playing up. But a simple breakfast in the hotel lobby doesn’t do any harm – apart from the fact that the milk comes in quarter-pint individual cartons. I use very little of mine and ask the staff what will happen to the rest.
‘Oh, you can just dispose of it, sir.’
‘But…isn’t that a bit wasteful?’ I suggest.
‘Let me take it, sir, and I’ll bear the burden of disposing of it.’
‘Oh. Okay,’ I reply, handing him the almost full carton. ‘But maybe someone else could use it?’
‘Let me take it, sir.’
A morning to myself, lying low in my very clean but characterless hotel room, and then Maria and Cara collect me at lunchtime to head to Wholefoods Market to get a healthy lunch. My local branch of this store in Clapham Junction back home is the size of a broom cupboard compared to the vast emporium we visit. (Everything’s smaller in Clapham…)