Saturday, April 16, 2016

Party News (1983)

Party News from the December 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

It was a fine, sunny Friday morning in September and this was my usual afternoon for selling literature at the junction of Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street. Picking up my portable literature stand I made my way to Central London and arrived at my usual place at 11 o'clock. I set up my stand in front of the big, yellow sand-bin which is part of the local scenery. Hundreds of people hurried along the street and I studied the expressions on their faces as they passed by. Most had looks of intense desperation, as if they were thinking that unless they could get to where they were going in time all would be lost for them. Time moved on; nothing sold as yet . . . more time went by. It was 2 o'clock and in spite of numerous requests for directions to Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum and various well-known book shops, I had sold nothing; I had not made contact with anyone who was interested in discussing, supporting or opposing the idea of socialism.

I decided to walk slowly around the sand-bin and then, if no buyers approached, I would call it a day. After four trips around the bin my peregrinations were arrested by a tall, broad-shouldered, well-dressed young man who towered above me. "Hello", he said. "I have been a supporter of the Party for some time and was a fellow student of some of the members at college". He asked for a copy of the Marx Centenary special issue of the Socialist Standard. Feeling triumphant, having at last broken my duck. I handed him the Standard and, to my great surprise, our young friend insisted on making a £10 donation to the Party.

An interesting conversation followed, during which I sold another Standard to a passer-by. After a while our comrade had to continue on his journey across London and I decided that I would continue selling for another half an hour. Even without another sale, my efforts so far will have been worthwhile. Then, another surprise: I saw coming towards me the familiar figure of a former Party member (now living in Africa) who had done great work as a propagandist in the past. Result: another sale of literature and a very pleasant conversation, during which 1 made further sales to some other interested people.

It was now well into the afternoon and there were more people about. It was Friday afternoon and, as workers made their way home after a week of employment, it seemed to me that their faces looked more relaxed. Perhaps this impression was reinforced by the fact that I was able to sell many more Socialist Standards after 4 o’clock. I then decided to call it a day: a very successful day.
Harry Walters

1 comment:

imposs1904 said...

"Then, another surprise: I saw coming towards me the familiar figure of a former Party member (now living in Africa) who had done great work as a propagandist in the past."

That would have been Tony Turner: by common consent one of the greatest outdoor speakers in the history of the 20th century. No exaggeration.