A Week in The Life… of LSX Occupier Hazel Hedge

Monday. Big debate during General Assembly today, ending in a decision to make the camp an alcohol-and-drug-free zone. While we can’t stop anyone having a sneaky dram or can in their tent, a reduction in public drinking and drunkenness will make the camp a calmer, cleaner, safer place… and will be good for PR.
After Assembly I swept the steps to St Paul’s.
Finally got decent lighting in the kitchen tent – LED spotlights donated by a workers’ co-operative.
Elderly Christian lady holds an all-night vigil in support of the Occupiers on the steps of St Paul’s. Is overwhelmed by offers of tea and blankets from the protesters.

Tuesday. Early morning solidarity march with striking electricians.
Later, thermal imaging is the theme of the day. Media claims only one in ten tents are inhabited at night. That’s so wrong. First off, those cameras are not very good at detecting people in tents – as our own experiments and a military photographer questioned by the Guardian confirm. Secondly, not many people in the camp go to bed before 1am; The Times photo was clearly marked ‘11.12pm’. And… how come when I crawled out of my tent in the morning, three people in the vicinity were simultaneously crawling out of theirs, while another two were cleaning their teeth?
I’d say about 75% of tents are occupied at any one time. Camp occupants do occasionally go elsewhere to fulfill other commitments or to get a good night’s sleep and a shower. So what? The media would rather we stank and then they could complain about that.
My tent leaks in heavy rain. Luckily Tent City Surplus has a stack of spare tarps and some string.

Wednesday. St Paul’s Cathedral finally comes up with a health-and-safety demand. We must move nine small tents and a couple of bicycles into a previously fenced-off area… and the kitchen tent must shift forwards about five feet. Italian chef refuses to cease cooking lunch. Future of camp hangs in the balance. Sweet potato, pumpkin and pasta soup is served. Small army of protesters lifts entire kitchen in air, repositions it in new, healthy, safe location. Cathedral can now open. Occupiers jubilant… heathens back on good terms with Christians.
Launch of quality newspaper The Occupied Times.
Flashmob Evensong attended by hundreds – approximately 50% media, 25% protesters, 25% public.
I addressed 500 people at the General Assembly today and didn’t spontaneously combust with stage-fright. Subject: even more important than a change in structures and systems is a change in values – away from self-interest, towards co-operation and social/ecological responsibility. Then we discussed evolution versus revolution and whether we need to put Capitalism out of it’s misery… could we revive and transform it, or is it a lost cause? No big answers yet but lots of big conversations.

Thursday. Canon Giles Fraser resigns. Media frenzied. Occupiers and members of public moved to tears. Yesterday’s optimism premature. Church in cahoots with City of London in wanting to evict us.
Flashmob meditation on cathedral steps.
Starbucks has banned protesters from using their toilet but not their wifi. I prefer the shopping centre and local pub loos anyway – these are designated public toilets so there’s no need to make a purchase to pee.
London Debating Society host “This House would Occupy the City” at Ye Olde Cock Tavern.
Night raid on camp by anti-terrorist police looking for firearms. No weapons found.

Friday. Cathedral opens with a well-attended celebratory service.
City of London and St Paul’s officially announce intention to evict. This provokes a second resignation within the church – Fraser Dyer, part-time chaplain, is ’embarrassed’ by St Paul’s decision to pursue legal action.
Camp documents leaked to the Guardian. Perhaps not entirely a bad thing… the published statement, while still a work-in-progress and not mandated by the camp’s General Assembly, gives a glimpse of the archaic, ‘unconstitutional and unfair’ legal structures of the City of London Corporation. We’re going to strike at the heart of the beast and will be revealing its ugly, greed-riddled flesh as we go.

Saturday & Sunday. At work. Even though ‘work’ is my own small ethical business I don’t want to be doing it this weekend. The OccupyLSX camp has become my home and away from it I feel strangely dislocated, ineffectual. I’d rather sleep on the cobbles than in a real bed right now. Can’t wait to get back to Tent City.

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