My weekends in August were taken up with the YCL Summer Camp, followed two weeks later by the 50th YCL Congress.
I spent a few afternoons before the camp trying to repair a splintered tent pole for my old tent. I made an unsuccessful attempt to cut a replacement tent pole section down to size and thread the elastic through, before giving up and buying a new tent. I should’ve really prepared for tent repair much earlier, it was never an urgent task until it was too late.
It rained a lot, mostly overnight, and just enough to make for an unquiet sleeping experience. Thankfully with a brand new tent, well pitched (under a tree), it was cold but I stayed dry.
J had evidently been to visit an army surplus store, he was well prepared, but spent the first night covered by little more than a sheet of camouflaged canvas.
On Friday night there was a showing of ‘Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Occupation’, the story of a man with a broken time machine who looks a bit like Ivan the Terrible. It’s a quirky Soviet comedy, and there were a few moments which raised laughter in the village hall.
As usual on Saturday we went to march up Kinder Scout.
The fog at the rocks was thick, and we stopped there for tea and sandwiches before heading back down.
Yorkshire YCL brought up their banner.
The march was super well organised, we went up in groups, and there were stewards with walkie-talkies. Nobody took a wrong turning, nobdy got lost, and the worst injury anyone reported was a few blisters.
From past experience, it’s not as easy as you might think to successfully lead a large crowd of young people up and down this mountain,1 the stewards did a fantastic job.
After a weekend of rain, lots of walking and lots of conversation, the camp came to a close.
I made my way back to Leicester, joined by R and another comrade on the train.
We parted ways at Sheffield station.
Another weekend I went down to Croydon for our congress.
I had a happy moment on the Friday evening, strolling slowly across the mostly empty streets of central London. There was a light breeze, I had showered, put on a fresh set of clothes, had a kebab and a can of cola. My friends were all back in the pub and I wasn’t in a rush to get there, nothing left to prepare or actually worry about. So, there was this rare feeling of inner contentment.
I made a note of it because it really doesn’t happen that often.
In the garden of Ruskin House someone had constructed this huge wooden logo.
I witnessed the process of internal democracy in action, all elegantly facilitated by the outgoing chair. The political direction and organisational priorities of the league were reviewed and updated. We made some good constitutional changes, and a new central committee was elected.
We had a big meal at the end of the first day, I like the soft sunlight in this photo.
I had one last meeting and then made my way back to the hotel. The room had a view over the 50p tower.
The fact that the league is even in a place to be block-booking a hotel for congress only demonstrates how far we’ve come. Just as a sign of organisational growth, that kind of thing wouldn’t have been possible three years ago.
The congress ended in a rendition of the Internationale.