Thursday 8 December was a cold, clear night. There was frost on the trees and the puddles were icing over. It was a perfect night for staying in, cuddling with a loved one and playing some good tunes. Sadly we weren’t staying in that night.
The Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall had planned to hold an event for holocaust deniers, including headline guests Ian Fantom (who organises the “Keep Talking” underground fascist talks) and Alison Chabloz (who’s been to jail for antisemitic hate speech). Some people may remember the Tea House Theatre from a previous incident: sadly they’re up to the same tricks again.
The event was publicised quite poorly at first, as if they were ashamed that it was happening, or else knew that the people of South London wouldn’t stand for it when we found out. When news of the event emerged, the theatre owner first complained that they were being “cancelled.” Then they cancelled Chabloz, apparently only just having discovered some of the things she’d said about Auschwitz in previous years. (That must have been a shock! Lucky for them that we reminded them!) A few days later they cancelled the event entirely, claiming it was for safety after “threats of violence against staff and customers.” We’re not sure what threats those were – their social media simply reposted our general callout and claimed that it was a threat to beat up “pensioners” – as though either pensioners are the only people who go to tea houses, or the only people who go to holocaust denial lectures, we’d love to know which they meant.
A few of us turned up anyway to make sure it was 100% not on. While we stood out in the cold making jokes, we chatted to locals. It turns out many local people hate Harry, the theatre owner. One person came out to tell us how, during lockdown, the theatre had hosted “lockdown breaking” parties, and how Harry had put speakers outside so he could blast covid-denial songs on repeat. What a charming neighbour.
Finally, just as one person felt like putting up a sticker as a present from us before we left, the doors opened and the owner came out. He had been sitting in there in the dark all night, without friends or companionship. We’re sorry to discover that you’re a literal Harry. Lots of people feel lonely and manage not to be holocaust deniers. From the conversations we had, maybe he wouldn’t be so lonely if he wasn’t such a bellend to all his neighbours.
When we left, the Vauxhall Tavern (a much-loved gay bar) was doing a roaring trade that night. South London loves gay people, Jewish people, and every other minority that Harry, Alison, Ian and their friends hate. We’re one of the most diverse communities in the world and holocaust deniers have no place here.
Fantom says he’ll be holding more events. We’ll be there too. South London, like all of London, is and remains antifascist.