Monday: Back to camp. Gave a guided tour to Croatian TV, attended a medley of meetings and discussed the future with visiting bankers and clergy.
Cough kept me (and probably my neighbours) awake half the night. Hoping this doesn’t lead to a proper chest infection. My caring other half is beginning to make “you shouldn’t be there if you’re ill” noises. I’ve promised to make a GP appointment on Friday if I’m not better.
Tuesday: Today I stripped wires, staggered about with hefty leisure batteries, stood on chairs, inexpertly wielded a screwdriver… Finally, sometime after dark, installation of low-energy LED lighting in the University, Information, Welfare and Library tents was completed and LED spotlights were on their way by foot-courier to Finsbury Square for the Occupy kitchen there. Thanks to the brilliant D of LEDfantastic for teaching me as much as my non-techno brain can cope with about 12-volt electrics and low-energy lighting systems and for providing the bulbs and other bits now installed. Thanks too to Hank for donating his precious battery to the cause.
Wednesday: The student demo (approx. 10,000 marchers and 4000 police) was attended by many Occupiers. I remained at St Paul’s base camp, on duty in the Information tent, gathering and relaying info. Reports trickled back to us from the frontline, by word-of-mouth, text and twitter. Electricians (protesting about massive pay cuts) were kettled, with police refusing to let them join the student march. Shocked tourists asked us whether such massive police operations were the norm at British demonstrations. Police on horseback, police in riot gear, police on motorbikes, police helicopters overhead, police road-blocks… all rather extreme. Around lunchtime a tweet came in – “OccupyLSX has occupied Trafalgar Square with 40 tents!” Cheers all round. It turned out to be something of a ‘flash’ Occupation, with cops tearing themselves away from the student march to come down heavy on the tented ones. Those attempting to defy the cops by settling in were arrested after a couple of hours. A grand bit of direct action nonetheless.
Billy Bragg gave musical support at St. Paul’s during the afternoon.
Thursday: I’ve moved into a rather more waterproof tent and my cough seems to be getting better. Phew.
Tom Hodgkinson of Idler fame responded positively to my invite to the camp and exceeded expectations by delivering not only a sermon on the Evils of Usury but also a rousing rendition of Anarchy in the UK on his tin-can ukelele (while wearing a very fine, vintage-inspired suit). Tent City University almost burst at the seams.
Evening General Assembly was possibly the longest camp meeting yet. It took us over three and a half hours to reach consensus on how (and whether) to formally respond to the City of London Corporation’s demands that we scale back the camp forthwith, leave by December 31st and promise not to occupy elsewhere. The minutes of the meeting and decision are on the OccupyLSX website; in brief, we chose to tell the City that we may wish to continue dialogue once CoL has reformed itself into a democratic and transparent institution (which is a bit like saying ‘when hell freezes…’).
Friday: We’ve agreed to respect the traditional two-minute silence to remember those who’ve died in war (soldiers and civilians). We’ve pledged not to disrupt Armistice Day (today) or Remembrance Sunday events at St Paul’s. A green banner has been hand-appliqued with red poppies. Hundreds of white paper doves have been cut out and the G.A. theme for today is Peace. Veterans are amongst those in the OccupyLSX camp and their input into how best to approach this day (given that many of us are anti-war) has been very valuable.
One of the greatest things about Occupying is that it forces us to meet people and situations that we wouldn’t usually encounter. Remembrance Day, soldiers and churches are not usually on my radar. Being here forces me to think, feel, react, interact…
However, I am glad that the police arrested members of the ‘English Defence League’ who were intending to cause a breach of the peace by giving us a bashing. Some people I’m happy to avoid interactions with indefinitely.
Saturday-Tuesday: I’ve a busy few days ahead, fulfilling commitments outside of London. Hosting a co-housing group; attending a Radical Routes quarterly meet (edit-in spirit only, didn’t quite make it in physical form due to too many commitments tumbling on top of one another!); heading over to Glastonbury to discuss next year’s Green Gathering; having a birthday; and helping at a Transition Town social event. All exciting stuff but I do pine for St Paul’s…