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Ian Pollack

Ian Pollack - The Young Pretender

Christopher James Stone

CJ Stone is an author, columnist, feature writer, part-time postal worker and grandad.

He was born in 1953 in Birmingham, UK. It was the year of the Queen's coronation, for which the new born baby Chris received a medal, though he didn't recognise it at the time.

He had a very happy childhood.

As well as being a writer, he has been (and done) all sorts of things.

He's been (in no particular order): a barman, a dustman, a cleaner, a machine operator in a steelworks, a carer, a barman (again), an accountant, a machine operator in a rope factory, a road sweeper, a car washer, a door to door salesman, a barman (yet again), a deliverer of leaflets, a labourer on a building project, an archaeological digger, and a barman.

Did I tell you he's been a barman? That's about the level of his skill in the job market. He knows how to drink with the drinkers but stay sober enough to get home at night, how to pour a pint of bitter without spilling it, and how to get rid of the drunks when it's closing time.

He's done a little travelling too: to India and Nepal, overland on the so-called “hippie trail”, via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was in 1975. Virtually no one could do that journey these days, which shows just how much the world has changed. It was open then. People were getting to know their world, and the folk within it. Youth was on the move and hope was in the air. Everyone all thought they could make it a better world.

He's also been to Crete, to Thailand, to North America, to Romania and to the Sinai desert.

He first became a writer just after his 40th birthday, in September 1993, with a column called Housing Benefit Hill, which appeared in the Guardian Weekend for three years. Other columns have appeared in the Big Issue, the Independent, Mixmag, Kindred Spirit and Prediction magazine. Features by him have found a place in a most British newspapers, and he has had a number of guest spots on Radio 4.

He's written seven books. His first, Fierce Dancing, is generally acknowledged as a cult classic, focussing upon the protests around the Criminal Justice Act in 1995, while Dear Granny Smith, an account of his life as a postal worker, written under the name Roy Mayall, was Book of the Week on Radio 4 in November 2009 and went on to get to number 8 on the Amazon chart. Other books include the semi-autobiographical Last of the Hippies, about his life as a belated semi-hippie in the unfashionable parts of Britain, and the Trials of Arthur, written with Arthur Pendragon, about an ex-biker turned Druid, who takes on the mantle of the mythical King Arthur in order redeem these lands from the corporate invaders.

Stone has been a chronicler and observer of some of the most important counter-cultural events of the last thirty years, including the Poll Tax Riots, the Criminal Justice Bill protests, the Newbury Bypass protests, Reclaim the Streets, the struggles around access to Stonehenge, anti-fracking camps, peace camps, occupations and much more.

It was through these experiences that he first began to notice a specifically magical aspect to these events. People on road protests weren't just talking politically, or environmentally: they were talking about magic too, about the sense of being immersed in nature, about communication with the plants and wild creatures they encountered, about communication with the spirits of the woods, and with the ancestors, about deep communication with their fellow human beings on an archetypal level.

It was through contact with people in the underground scene, at raves and free parties, on protest camps and sacred sites, that Stone learned the redemptive power of action: Action Yoga, Engaged Spirituality—Satyagraha, or Truth Force, as Ghandi called it – using your spiritual focus to a political end. Our world is in crisis. We need to change. But the only way real change can take place is by positive engagement with other people, whether politically, magically, ritually, in celebration, or all four.

We are magical beings conned into a diminished existence by the forces of deep repression, by the dark spell of corporate capitalism.

The only question is, how do we end it?

You can read more of CJ Stone's work here