Saturday, February 4, 2012

Occupy London

Occupy London

There's one thing you can say about the Occupy London protest - it is quite civilised. Yes, there is a bit of trouble from time to time with various sad street people and other flotsam and jetsam, who can hardly believe their luck at finding hot foot and shelter magically sprung up in their midst. But even these are not turned away. Meetings are held and Action Plans come up with.

St Paul's grins and bears it.

Then there's the lectures, presentations, workshops and seminars. Whether the street people appreciate these is unknown, but you can't really accuse these protestors of being thick boof-heads. You might, of course, accuse them of being a little bourgeois, with morning coffee at Starbucks, protest, lecture, cocktails at 5, and in some cases home to feed the cat.

But those who snicker at these goings-on are really just looking for a little blood-sport, like the protests in the good old days (actually just last year, now I think of it) where out-numbered protestors valiantly face mounted policemen and are dragged away to the clink bloodied but unbowed. Occupy London is nothing if not Very Twenty-First Century, inventing a new form of civil disobedience. Kind of like Ghandi with theatre and a piano.

Music to protest by.

When I passed by their encampment outside St Paul's, one communal tent indeed housed a piano. There is now a plan to stage a dramatic reenactment of the four months of protest at a theatre in East London. St Paul's, which got itself into a terrible hand-wringing ethical soup early on, is in discussions with the tented folk to establish one 'permanent' marquee in return for the grotty little tents being removed. I understand that the City of London objects to this compromise, which does seem to rather give the Occupiers yet another chance to say "I told you so".

Here's what one organiser had to say about his hopes for the theatre production:

"We want the show to explore sides of the movement that have not been heard.
We're hoping to reach people of all ages who feel they've made up their minds about the Occupy movement. People who either think of the protesters as a bunch of lazy hippies who don't want to get a job, or see them as martyrs fighting the good fight against a system that is unbearably corrupt.
Of course neither of these are completely true, and we want to show audiences our responses as artists and help them make up their own minds."

"This is what democracy looks like"

Here are a few pictures to mark this protest encampment, which is likely in its last days. The High Court has rather disparaged the Occupiers' high-mindedness by decreeing them to be "a public nuisance". Once they are cleared away, I think I'll pause and have a cocktail myself, raised to them. Perhaps they weren't angry enough. Perhaps they placed too much faith in reason. But they gave it their best shot, and fed a few homeless in the process.

A symbol of capitalism.

Occupying dog joins protest.

Dozens of heart-felt home-made signs abound.

And lo, St Paul's did forgive...after three clergy resigned.


  1. Looks like their trespasses will not, in fact, be forgiven. Their days appear numbered.