Careful Now – Shit Gets Real

27 03 2011

For two hours we were left to our own devices. Young people climbed the foot of Nelsons Column to dance, laugh, talk and wind down from the days’ adventures. This is what young people do, they don’t go home to have a microwave pizza, check the lottery numbers and sleep.

The police had a hands off approach at this point, most graffiti was of the chalk variety (as in easy to rub off the morning after)and though we had a few fires going to keep warm things were festive not scary.

In one corner we had rousing drum battles, in another the sweet dark sound of Dubstep with amateur MC’ing from atop a Trafalgar Lion. It was a glorious sight of free will and expression. Not a boy band or talent show winner was to be heard, this party was organic, instituted by the young for the young and not to sell watered down drinks in a nightclub or single sales for a vast media corporation.

Trafalgar Square is a public place, so long as we don’t abuse it then we have as much right to be there as anyone else, whether you find our lifestyles to your liking or not.

By around nine things were starting to wind down. Despite my tweeter pleas for some kind of Situationist/Zeitgeist event to flower forth the cold was starting to bite. By midnight I would have reckoned only a hundred or so hardcore Trafalgar Ravers would have still been there, to have blended in with the usual drunken detritus of the town on a Saturday.

Sadly events took another turn.

One of my party,  the “folky bollocks” singer songwriter Cosmo was doing his thing at the south east corner of Trafalgar while the remaining unsold piles of Socialist Worker were put to use for the people on a big bonfire. From our vantage point we could see a bright line of dayglo police officers causing a ruck around the monument to Lisa Simpson’s oral talents otherwise known as the Olympic Countdown Clock.

Already the air of the crowd had changed. A number of scrawny and dare I say chavvy youths had stormed past us from the south corner, followed by a clutter of empty Fosters cans. At the time it seemed something had kicked off around the clock, as if it were the most important artefact in the venerable square and it must be left untouched to please Boris Johnson at all costs.

Clutching my phone and my “Careful Now” placard I went to investigate.

I’m a lover not a fighter (and perhaps more a joker than lover) so I don’t like to see violence. I waved my trusty reference to Father Ted above my head (gathering the attention of BBC News I later learned from Twitter) and called out for everyone to calm down, have a cup of tea and talk things out.

I didn’t want this to go the same tired old route of destruction, violence and recrimination. The sort of thing the media hacks from Sky News or the BBC love to hoodwink the public with every time a group of people disagree with the Overmind that runs British consensus. I wanting something beautiful to happen that night, something magical and unexpected.

I learned after (it was only rumour at the time) that the more violent agitators who had decided to burn Piccadilly Circus down while those of us in Trafalgar were having a more festive evening had fled from the scene of the crime and decided to join us….bringing battle-hardened police with them.

We might never be sure exactly what set things alight at that point, it may have been someone having the audacity(!) to plant a sticker on the hallowed Olympic Clock, it might have been the “snatch squads” barging into the crowds and whisking their prey away into the night.

Chaos is like that, one tiny mistake in a charged situation and it all goes pear shaped and the situation falls right into the tumescent lap of a mind like Rupert Murdoch or Bob Broadhurst.

I’ll be honest about my feelings at the moment, I was partly saddened to see a wonderful party go tits up when it didn’t have too but with the sound of police sirens, helicopters hovering apocalyptically above and searchlights strobing across the crowd while the sound systems kept out pumping bass…….it was exciting! Scary, but exciting like the best parties can be sometimes.

Part III – Escape From The Kettle?

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