On Peasants

I spent the weekend multi-tasking. That’s how I do things, so in reality, that is my life. I do several jobs and chores together – starting them at the same time, then spinning all the plates til tasks are finished. It seems to suit me.

As I was researching for a project I am working on, I decided to have a look through The Cupboard of Games and Old Media. The cupboard itself is a found object, left by previous owners in the garage. Most likely from the 1950’s and was in real need of restoration. I enjoy revamping furniture – the sanding, removing the old tired layers of dark, shiny rippled varnish and the recoating. The Cupboard is purple and turquoise on the outside and a glowing African orange inside.

Its contents are layers of board games, old VHS films, cassette tapes, CD movies that come free via newspapers and friends, vinyl, and random items like guitar strings (which you will find everywhere in this house) and some Christmas ornaments.


Lucky me, I thought when I found two films – both from Latin America – The Motorcycle Diaries and Buena Vista Social Club – both I enjoy and the timing was good as I am learning Spanish. An addition was a Paul Weller cd – the Modfather – made up.

I watched Motorcycle Diaries last night – a good tale of the travels of Che and his friend through South America and Che’s changing mindset as he meets peasants who have been thrown off their land, indigenous people, once again, losing everything. And he wonders, what America would be like, if there were no invaders from Europe. That’s some place to take your imagination.

I studied the Age of Discovery for A Level History at school. The usual Columbus stuff etc. The great thing was that we had a history teacher who asked us to think about the consequences of travel, exploration and coercion of an indigenous people and the impact on peasants here in Britain too. It was mind-blowing!

Of course, Che’s path in life altered and as we know, he was killed. But many speak of him with adoration – he was someone who stood by the people. These days, too many stand by their wealth.



As I thought about how the old lefties were leaving us one by one ( and we seem to be left with a breed of self-servers), I mourned the departing of Marquez too. Someone who wrote so wonderfully about the peasant soul. I picked up 100 Years of Solitude and began to read it again. Line after line speaks of our closeness to each other. Something we have chosen to abandon – human bonding – for material goods.

“Intrigued by that enigma, he dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her.”  
 Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezOne Hundred Years of Solitude

We have so much still to relearn from peasants, nomads, Gypsies and people who work hard to put clothes on our backs and have given us so much in culture and cuisine.

As always, when I go on a journey in search of a bit of extra knowledge, something will turn up – the sequencing comes naturally.

The Journal of Peasants and Politics : http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/bes/fjps-peasants-and-politics-vsi


For 14 days, you can access 40 articles for free.I signed up. And it takes me back to South America. Will I ever visit. I don’t know. It’s a long way. But the heat of the sun, warmth of the latin soul, art, literature, music, and cuisine of the  original American peasants and tribes call to me. Perhaps my journey is an internal one. For many reasons, I am drawn. So I will explore.


Diego Rivera – The Flower Carrier

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