John Hirst, the chief executive of Destination Bristol, the former manager of the Galleries shopping mall has a job that is about distraction through consumption. While many of us are stuck elbowing each other out the way to get the elusive best deal, buying stuff we don’t really need and sinking deeper into debt in a vain attempt to feel like we’re doing ok, John and his business class are doing very nicely. They get expensive cars and exotic holidays and we get bailiffs and debt recovery. One thing we do share is a planet on the brink of ecological collapse due to destructive mass consumerism championed and toasted by people like John. He claims he cycles 100 miles each week and is keen to show off how he does his bit for charities, but presides over the accelerating privatization and corporate control of our city, the encroaching concretization of green spaces like Castle Park and ever more CCTV surveillance of our every move. No dogs, no skaters, no street drinking, no street stalls, no demonstrations… the list goes on and quickly ends up as no unlicensed anything. Nothing without permission and nothing without payment.
John may be all smiles about making good business for Bristol but as always the wealth creation is only good for a few; the winners, like John. For most of us, the losers, it means getting trampled on by the needs of the rich and forced to work harder to pay so much more for everything. There’s a lot of us but we’re not all defeated and although we don’t dress as sharply as Lord John, we too can get things done.
On the night of Sunday 15th November we visited his posh (easily over half a million £!) house in quiet, suburban Downend to give some rewards of capitalism. As a reminder of all the shit jobs and environmental mess and as a contribution to the upcoming international day of action against consumerism, we left animal waste and coat hangers all over John’s garden and cars. Punctured tires and spraypaint on his sports Jaguar and her Range Rover showed our contempt for his easy money and how John and his friends make their wealth at everyone else’s expense. Now we’re wondering if King Georgie red trousers [clownish leftie Mayor of Bristol] has a 24/7 bodyguard…