A Friend’s Place in a Hierarchy

Monday 17 September, 2001

07.00 E&M 30 mins. Had breakfast with Karaj, greeted Robert around lunchtime, cleared the loft for the Gas Board on Wednesday and picked Francis up from the station. Robert was displaying his usual non-committal, tell-me-what-to-do behaviour such that when Francis phoned to inform me his train was running late while I was clearing the loft with Karaj, Robert neither picked up the phone, nor did he tell me it had rung. As usual it was good to see Francis and he dropped straight into the socialisation of the day. He was also keen to be involved in the afternoon’s digging, so all four of us spent three hours in the garden shifting buckets – 170 of them (running total 276). It was great work – very physical, productive and efficient.

There was an interesting hierarchy which developed on the physical landscape of the garden. We were moving the earth up two levels to dump it and Karaj occupied the space on the top level, I found my place on the next level down while Francis and Robert were primarily on the lower level, digging the earth. Even here there was a split – Francis in his first visit to the house seemed to be the next one in the hierarchy as he dug and also assumed the duty of bucket monitor between lower and middle levels, whilst Robert was at the bottom spending all his time breaking up the earth with a pick axe and a spade. At times he even stood on the earth he had just loosened, compacting it again in a complete waste of time and energy. He had to be told about this.

In the evening Francis and I walked home. We chatted as we went. He remarked that I have given him some good angles on important issues, adding ‘I like the way you look at things these days’. He went on to say that it is important I represent Karaj’s ethics; I must maintain the high standards which Karaj sets, and challenge the other men accordingly.

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