Wednesday, November 09, 2011

We are under siege!

Today is supposed to be a day off for me. We were aware the student "protests" would be taking part in London (I am down here for a few days) but wanted to do a tourist day out in capital. So we got our lists of historic sites and planned a route.

Alas, all great plans hit a brick wall, or in this instance, a cordoned off route along which an extremely large number of police were to direct a pathetically small number of protesters. Our plan was to visit 40 minor historic sites, take photos and have lunch at the Viaduct Tavern, London's original gin palace. We got to see the first 11 before we realised we had to negotiate with the police to cross the road to get to the Viaduct.

Having achieved that, we found that once inside the pub and tucking into lunch, the doors were locked. No one could come in. That included the tv crew filming us through the window and wanting to enter to interview under siege tourists. And as the "protesters" approached, suddenly the bar stopped serving (I used my best persuasive powers to be the last person to be served before the taps to the beer barrels were turned off.)

And then the "protesters" arrived. The first banner was totally confusing. It was in German and was from the "New German Youth". Then the bulk of the procession passed us. It was populated by a mixed bag of differing messages. There were those demanding an end to Trident, an end to tuition fees, an end to world poverty, an end to capitalism, an end to Nick Clegg and, one demanding, "Eat the rich." How this latter one went down with the Vegetarians-for-World-Peace is not yet clear. There was also a modest sprinkling of "Socialist Workers" demanding a general strike and lots of money for any spending project going, except bankers' bonuses which they are all against.

And within a very short space of time, the "protesters" were gone. Small in number, incoherent, mixed and contrary messages with no clear message but blessedly free of megaphones. Clearly the ones who love the sound of their own voices must have had better things to do.

The doors to the pub have now opened again, the bar is serving again, but we won't get through the other 30 locations to visit on our history tour. We'll finish it tomorrow.

And watch out shortly for the photos I took of the procession from the pub.

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