We met in a side room of small terraced house in Chatham. I’m shown into the room and quickly given a cup of tea and a biscuit. There are four people already in the room, all from different backgrounds and all with one main thing in common. We have all been blocked by Tris Osbo.
A woman, 27, sips from her tea, and smiles shyly. “I can’t even say why I’m bothered, I just, I just find it upsetting, I should be grateful, to be free, but it’s the not knowing why.”
“Agreed,” says the host, “nobody is saying he isn’t allowed to block. I suppose it’s the surprise of being blocked as much as anything.”
“I know why,” says the 45 year old member of the Socialist Workers Party. “Its because I didn’t properly apologise for not supporting his campaign.”
“Which one?” I ask.
“The general election. TUSC had put up a candidate, and well, the politics are different, aren’t they? Seemed an obvious choice, I just didn’t realise it would come to this.”
There was a legend, that during the late hours of the result; when it was obvious that Tris was going to lose the general election campaign and a rumour that he might even lose his council seat, that he had been changed by the experience. Some say that he softened, regained his sense of humour and even opened up. It’s laughable to think people actually believe that.
A gruff northern voice speaks up, “What you need to know about Osbo is that he is a cu..”
“Stop, easy now”, our host shouts in.
“What?” He continues, “I thought this was Chatham House rules!”
“No,” says the host, “this is a house in chatham, we can still be polite.”
“He’s brilliant really” says the woman, “His election strategy, I mean.”
“What for a guy that lost overwhelmingly, you mean?” says the gruff voice.
“Yeah, with the PCC elections coming up. He doesn’t explain or give any reason to vote for him. He either ignores you or demands to know why you aren’t supporting him. It’s brilliant.”
“Agreed,” says the SWP member, “Thanks to him, I’m very aware that it’s my fault the Tories won. I just wish I could message him and let him know.”
There is a gentle laughter, even from the gruff voiced man, and they start sharing stories, stories of life on the outside, stories of being blocked by Tris.
I sit and sip tea and listen, and think, it’s not so bad, I could get used to this, being here, being blocked by Tris, and not seeing the dazzling political intellect at work.
The not knowing eats away at me, not knowing what I did that put me with these lost souls. I haven’t really slept, I’ve just picked at food.
Oh who am I kidding. Why? WHY ME?
My mobile phone goes.
There is a slew of messages, and I see that yes, yes! I am no longer blocked by Tris.
See ya later suckers, I hold my tongue from saying out loud. Stay polite, I might be returning one day, and these aren’t bad people, even if they have been blocked.
I sneak out the back door, not making eye contact, just catching up online. The insights. The humour. The end.