(For security purposes all the names in this article have been supplanted by the codename Dave. This is especially true of the real Daves who thus retain their anonymity in the vast Dave Collective. The girls I have named Davinia for the same reason.)
I had said to myself: “pop down at Christmas” but the chance to listen to Caroline Lucas MP, John Pilger, Bruce Kent (CND), Seumas Milne (The Guardian), Kate Hudson (CND), Josie Long (UK Uncut/comedian), Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students’ Campaign), Stef Newton (NUS LGBT Campaign & National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts), Weyman Bennett (Unite Against Fascism), Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition). [A shameless cut & paste] …is not one to be turned down.
And thus it was: Happy Campers that I found myself travelling once again into the Heart of Darkness that is the City of London Corporation and a Cancer of Compassion that will hopefully grow and metastasize: destroying the real cancer that is our current body politic.
The first Dave I met on the tube was a Banker! I drew him out about what he understood about the Occupation and its aims and found a Concensus. We ended our conversation with a handshake and hopefully he will take up my unilateral offer of a free meal and opportunity to teach the Occupation about the positive aspects of his occupation.
So Daves and Davinias around St Paul’s please make him welcome and try to learn from him as much as he can learn from you.
My second Dave was from Poland and not being long in this country did not speak English very well. However he was not too impressed with our Nation or its People: “English is Shit” On drawing him out with hand gestures and slow simple words I discovered why: he had been assaulted by four men objecting to his presence here. So much so that he had been hospitalised for three months.
Ironic that these violent morons should cause a further drain on our imperilled NHS and the threadbare public purse by senseless violence.
I tried to explain, the best I could, the debt of gratitude that Britain owes Poland for their valiant effort in the Battle of Britain and that Poland has lessons in Solidarity Solidarność Trade Unionism and overthrowing a brutal dictatorship. Also its place as a major power in the new extended European Union. I would like to think that at the end of our conversation he had a slightly better appreciation for our country. And that he remains as a taxpaying citizen.
Naturally I asked about Solaris and Stanisław Lem (Yes to both. Result!)
Indeed it was a day of “Results” all round!
On arrival, noting that no-one had tidied up the bits of broken Cathedral, I plonked myself down in front of St Paul’s; in what I like to think of as the cheap seats. To listen to Dave the Environmentalist setting out the details of making the Camp more eco-secure. Since this is one area where our Wiki could be improved, I caught up with him to provide a few links and suggestions.
But during this John Pilger arrived! Within 10 odd minutes and here was, I your humble Voice from the Outer World, shaking hands with a journalistic legend. Result+2
Somewhat dazed after this I decided that this time I would recover my composure in the Tea & Empathy Tent. Like most of the facilities of the Camp it had improved even during the week or so that I had been away. The tea was plentiful but alas the the hot water was not! Nor were the cups.
Note to self: next time bring own Mug!
After bumping into Livestream Davinia and returning the stolen earbuds (Long story.) …I returned to the GA; settling down beside Dave the Facilitator and just in time to catch Davinia Lucas (the Green Party MP for Brighton) deliver a superb speech. Followed by a succession of impassioned speakers.
After the speechifying I gathered up some abandoned cups and returned to the Tea Tent.
There is talk in various Eastern esoteric tracts of finding your ‘spot.’ I think that the Tea Tent is my spot in the Camp. The tea and biscuits seem never ending, the conversation political but always polite and frequently punctuated by music from a piano. The program was wide and diverse from a spirited Beatles sing-a-long, to -much later in the evening- a delighful diva naturally called Davinia, whose pure and melancholic songs were a delight!
Unfortunately I missed the “Pilger Report” too busy talking radical politics and sharing life histories with complete strangers! And catching up with new friends! And, alas, I had missed the Demo too! They had gone without me! Engaging with Greenpeace Dave I discovered that a rearguard was about to set off and joined them on a mini-Demo of our own.
London is full of protest! Zimbabwe, China and something, I am not quite sure what, taking place in Trafalgar Square. Here we paused for a while. I had totally lost my bearings and was intently staring at a mini A-Z when my companion Dave pointed out the profile of Big Ben clearly on the city skyline. Major Fail on my behalf. But, significantly not the only major fail on the block!
Passing through Trafalgar Square, that eternal upraised finger to France at the heart of London, we were surprised to see a single line of police officers blocking the road.
“Looks like a kettle is on.” Said Dave.
We approached and I clicked into my confused elderly citizen mode.
“Excuse me officer what is going on here?”
“There is a demonstration going on!”
(Looking pointedly around!)
“I don’t know Sir!”
“But we can pass through here Officer?”
So we did. Marching in: “Whose Parliament Street? Our Parliament Street!” with a virtual demonstration of one million LSXers!
[One thousand according to official police sources!]
My virtual placard varied between: “Eat the Rich” and “Feed the Poor!”
I was feeling hungry.
The Police had done a fine job of stopping the traffic and most of Whitehall and the highway, all six lanes, were ours. Except for the taxis, who like the demonstrators know their way around London better than our poor Metropolitan Police and their Commanders in “Riot Central.”
On our way to Parliament Square I engaged with many Officers with the bemused tone as indicated above. Some I think regarded the whole exercise as a joke. And how right they were!
One striking moment was when one Officer removed the rather intimidating helmet and replaced it with a standard cap. Appreciated Sir. Appreciated!
On arrival at Parliament Square I noted that they had caged Dave Churchill: standing before Parliament in eternal vigilance against fascism! His bronze visage did not look too pleased! Clearly the National S authorities were keen to stop more Happy Campers setting down on Parliament Square. Which was odd because there were already tents there. An occupation that was started some 11 years ago.
The spirit of Brian Haw lives on. Result +4
I had an interesting chat with some LSXers and fellow travellers and took the chance to rest my weary legs. And watched with bemusement as troops of Police dogtrotted left and right and back again. Vans zoomed around sirens blaring. All in all causing a deal more ruckuss and disruption than a real march! Even one with a million real marchers instead of a motly crew of 500 or so.
[Official Police estimate: five.] Result +5
At this stage of my narrative, I must make a small confession. I took the Tube! Back to the sanity and the sanctity of St Paul’s and my spot. A parallel parable of the Loaves and Fishes writ in tea and biscuits!
The sharing of food and conversation, of ideas and revelation are building a new community of hope. In stark contrast to the offerings of our current political class.
Chatting to Davinia from New Zealand: part of the female night watch contingent I discovered she was off to Occupy Berlin in search of a warmer Tent! But during this time we were joined by Military Dave supposedly a “neutral observer” but at heart one of us to the core. I hope that our camp can put him at ease and grok him in his fullness.
At the end of a long day, I met with my friend Spiritual Dave (see last post) where we had a further meeting of minds. And some cunning ideas…
But alas the last tube train home was calling and I had to leave.
But I will Return. I have some new Ideas…