Careful Now – Never Leave A Mate Behind

30 03 2011

Though I had escaped my friends had not and I was concerned for them. Being trapped is not a fun experience, especially when there is no explanation for why. I had managed to contact two of my friends  aside from Gail who were inside the cordon and so I circled round to the west end of Nelsons Column to to see if I could find them and attempt to get them out.

As you can see from the end of this clip others outside the kettle were trying to do the same. These are not the hardened thugs Sky News and the Daily Mail would have you believe, these are people just like you who don’t turn their back on their friends when they are in need, especially when drunken idiots are throwing bottles around.

One of the main feelings you have in this situation is frustration. The Police don’t speak to you apart from a few empty robotic phrases (the ones that do are taken aside and given a word by their superiors for daring to show empathy.)

It never ceases to amaze me how when protests about the inherent  inequality in our society occur in central London some people still drive their ostentatious displays of wealth right into the trouble. So, like the Charles and Camilla in the December 9th Student Protest this limo has bumbled into a group of people who aren’t too happy with the super-rich.

Notice though the limo isn’t being attacked, merely inconvenienced which is the aim of Direct Action (ideally.) People stand in front of the gaudy thing, defiant and no longer wishing to stand by while the rich trample over the rest of us but they aren’t behaving like “mindless thugs.”

When we live in a society where people who pull in 30k a year still struggle while those in the tax band above can pressure the government to get favours ( Vince Cable plans to abolish 50p tax rate for those earning £150+) you have to question the disturbing divide developing. You also have to ask yourself whether you want this thing to carry on or to make a stand?

Halfway through this clip you can see how the police (again the ones who hide behind the masks, not your average bobby) move along people. I don’t move in a violent crowd so seeing violence in happen in front of me is a little unsettling, a little unreal. It’s even more unsettling to see authority figures use violence as seen when the cop uses his shield, lengthways to move people. I’ve been fortunate to have never experienced the sharp end of a policeman’s shield but I’m told it hurts like buggery!

Again, instinct attempts to kick in and deep down within me came a urge to get stuck in. Thankfully that urge manifested itself in my trusty placard and the ideals portrayed in Father Ted, so I admonished “Careful Now” towards the violence cops.

Though my words were lost on them a passer-by was pleased to hear them, like a uniquely British island of tea drinking calm and whimsy in a see of utter mentalness.


Careful Now pt VI ” A Thoroughly Surreal Evening”

Careful Now – Concerning Gail

30 03 2011

With adrenaline pumping in my veins following my escape I turned to find out what had happened to my friends. The pincer movement had closed and those inside were for the most part trapped. As I moved along outside the police line I could see some were defiant on top of Nelsons Column but not everyone was in such a boisterous (and possibly drunk) mood.

Bystanders were walking past, partly amused and partly in awe of the kurfuffle. I explained to one visiting tourist the meaning of my sign, though I think the TV show reference was lost on him the simple message of “Careful Now” resonated.

At 3:30 into the video clip I find my good friend and fiery anti-fascist Gail, trapped behind the line. Her own account of events can be found here. Already suffering from concusussion as a result of a steel barrier being thrown over her head the police were not letting her out. At that point a bottle smashed across the helmet of the police officer, thrown by some drunken idiot further back.

Despite the danger of the situation Gail still wasn’t being let out. I attempted to reason with one copper, saying it wasn’t a big deal to let out one lone woman but clearly orders were orders and any sign of initiative, empathy or reason is drummed out of government employees if they want to progress up the greasy pole, a fact I’ve found recently with Job Centre staff!

I was told to move back for my own safety, which was fine but what about the safety of Gail?

Moving back behind the flaming pile of Socialist Workers the intoxicating madness of the situation had taken hold. I spied a suspicious looking figure weaving in and out of the police lines unhindered and carrying a checkered backpack whilst talking constantly into a Blackberry.

Caught up in the wave of paranoia and fear I presumed him to be either a journalist or one of these “agent provocateurs” which had been spied in similar protests. Policemen in civilian clothes kicking up shit in a crowd and then nipping behind police lines once it all kicked off.

I had dismissed such things as conspiracy theory but since the revelation of undercover police officer infiltrating environmentalist groups (and dipping their wick in anything that moved) it could just be true.

Part V ” Never Leave a Mate Behind”

Careful Now – Escape From The Kettle

28 03 2011

At this point in the evening my friends and I had retreated from near the front lines where my attempts to have everyone calm down and have a bit of a talk about things were unsuccessful.

We got a vantage point from one of the empty fountains and saw the police line increase in number and attempt to circle us. Sam needed a wee, Alice was keen to stay so long as we had a clear way out. I had been told that it is impossible to entrap or kettle a public space like Trafalgar square which is why so many public demonstrations take place here.

It turned out I was wrong, it was possible to kettle the whole of Trafalgar square. Behind us at the southern and Charing Cross end we could see the police line rapidly move across.

Having experienced the frustration and fear of a kettle before, (in the December Student Protest) I said to my friends “it’s decision time.” I had no desire to spend the small hours of the night being pushed, beaten and then possibly arrested and have my phone taken off me and never returned as has happened to others before.

It was a fight or flight response, almost instinct so I ran. Coming up to the police line (which was still quite thin and not made of masked police with sticks and shields) I asked them a common question in these circumstances why are you doing this?!

No response (naturally) so I jumped past and managed to escape. My other friends were not so lucky so I turned round to see if I could find them and help them out.

Fireworks were let off from within the crowd, the atmosphere was electric, I commented “at least this beats the royal wedding”

Careful Now Part IV “Concerning Gail

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?

Careful Now – The “Battle” Of Trafalgar pt 1

27 03 2011

Many things will be said about the events last night in Trafalgar Square, mostly by people who weren’t there yet still feel like they’re some kind of authority on the matter.

Well I was there. I’m not some masked “anarchist” out to destroy, I’m a concerned citizen who feels this government is taking out the mistakes of bankers on those who can least afford it.

I feel parts of this country are taking almost a delight in the punishment of those who are more needy or less well off, I see the gap between the rich and poor grow larger and larger and more lies spun to justify this selfish belief system.

I see the Earth’s resources stretched to a point when the next the generation face a worse standard of living than the previous and then see that same generation villainized and marginalised in the media.

I also like to not take things too seriously.

Hardened Anarchist Destroys Property!!!!!!

Fun & Games

Now don’t get me wrong, I do take these issues seriously but it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while protesting as well. I figure the more people see you having a good time, making people laugh whilst making them think  the more likely they are to come round to your way of thinking.

Much better than waving a black flag and smashing shit up, which though fun for yourself isn’t great for those around you.

As the sun set over a group of us huddled around a dwindling camp-fire in the centre of Oxford Circus (which I believe were the remains of a wooden terror horse) we heard the distant thunder of drum and bass come up from Piccadilly. Baring in mind my predilection for fun it was only natural that I and my friends would follow this youthful band on it merry adventure.

As we marched and danced through Soho the general public were not running in terror of us and we were not smashing shops as we went. We were a  political party, in the literal sense of the word. Bystanders with amused smiles and bemused faces took pictures, thankful for a little impromptu street theatre to perk up their day of shopping and eating.

We were esc0rted/followed by a few police officers in everyday uniforms. No sticks were wielded, no masks over the face to hide their shame. We weaved merrily through the streets of central London, through Leicester Square and into Trafalgar.

And then we started to party.

This video was taken just as the sound systems were firing up, spirits were high and the air had a feel to a festival about it (except we were dancing beneath the shadow of a major London landmark.)

(part II – “Shit Gets Real”)

Police on Strike?

8 03 2011

Police pay review: officers threaten protest march over cuts

From the January 29th 2011 Student Fees Protest in London

Because I never grow tired of this picture.....

I’ve been on two big protests recently, both against the hiking of student fees and the end of EMA and at both events one of our many chants at the Police (at least one which can be recalled in polite company) is on the matter of “The Cuts” the Boys in Blue would be next.


And lo and behold they are! (source)

The Police, like all public servants face a massive pay cut at a time when living expenses are going through the roof and such cuts will be felt twice as hard. It strikes me as remarkably short sighted of the Coalition government and the Bankers who tug their strings as the Police are the only thing stopping the rest of us from storming Parliament (or my preferred target, Canary Wharf) and lynching the whole damn lot of them, Arabian style.

Of course violence never solves anything, (well not in a nice way) and the robber barons that live in this collapsing realm can still rest safe in the knowledge that the British public are two tame to actually stand up for themselves and redress the inequalities which we’re told are “just the way things are.”

Or are they safe? Remember any country is three good meals away from revolution and with the soaring cost of food and fuel (which have already caused the events sweeping across the Arab world) and the general sense of injustice of having to pay for other people’s mistakes maybe we could be in for a “Poll Tax Moment” on March 26th.


I’ll see you there, and I hope to see some Police Officers on our side of the March too. Hell, I’ll even share a bifta with them 😉


(Revolutionary Posing courtesy of The Chubbywordsmith)