diamond geezer

 Monday, October 24, 2011

They claim to be the 99%, the protesters at the Occupy London camp outside the front of St Paul's Cathedral. They're possibly the 50%, representing the views of mainstream Britons uneasy at the influence of business and banking in our recession-hit society. They're really the 0.001%, based on the proportion of the UK population who can actually be bothered to set up tents in central London and live in them forthwith. I've been down, because I wanted to see what could possibly be so awful that this esteemed place of worship has closed its doors. And you know, I'm 99% sure I can't tell what the cathedral's problem is.

They've been here a week now, the protesters, part of a global campaign to rally society against the iniquities of corporate greed. Initially the Cathedral welcomed them, at least cautiously, as they set up camp in the piazza out front round the Queen Anne statue. A sea of tents, mostly the small cheap type you get from Argos or Milletts, to create the ultimate pop-up protest in the heart of the City [photo]. A good choice of location too, because there aren't many public-ish open spaces in the Square Mile, let alone with a ready-made stream of passing tourists to impact upon (and some convenient shops and caf├ęs for refreshment purposes).

Capitalism Is Crisis, says a large green banner strung out between lampposts, with People Are Not Profit added alongside for good measure [photo]. An entire community has evolved, with first aid tent, canteen and information point. Recycling bins and portaloos are in place, the former with a stern sign not to dispose of urine bottles within. There's even a Tent City University, whose aim is "to create a non-hierarchical, open and inclusive space in which people can come together to share, teach and learn", because it's that sort of place. Most, but by no means all of those sitting around are young, and are busily engaged with one another (and with visitors) in earnest conversation. The atmosphere is entirely totally 100% non-threatening. Unless you're a banker with a conscience, that is, in which case it may give you the willies.
Dear General Public.
Our democracy is broken, and we are staying here until it is fixed.
We are angry at the bankers' bailout, the corrupt politicians, the cuts, the privatisation of the NHS, the undemocratic power of the IMF, the untrustworthy media, the wars waged without consent and the Corporatisation of Everything.
We are angry that this country, like so many others, is being run by a few people for their own profit instead of for the benefit of all.
We are not some special interest group. We are you.
If you have any ideas about how we can do this better, please tell us. Better yet, join us. Come down for a day, or stay for weeks. Come to an assembly and voice your views.
We are not going away. This is not a protest. This is the resistance.
We are the 99%. Expect us.
The protesters would prefer to be closer to the London Stock Exchange, their primary target, but the LSE is based in Paternoster Square nextdoor to the cathedral and that's private land. A sign at each entrance announces "any licence to the public to enter or cross this land is revoked forthwith" and "any such entry will constitute a trespass". Official tenants are allowed in, on production of proof of identity, but otherwise the Square is a no-go-zone. That's bad news for the bars, restaurants and businesses within who suddenly have no footfall, but the protesters unsurprisingly aren't bothered by that. It also gives the City Police somewhere convenient to park a fleet of riot vans, in case the protest suddenly turns nasty, and somewhere to stand around while that turning nasty continues not to happen.

And what of the religious life of the cathedral? That would appear to be seriously compromised, as the tall wooden doors remained firmly shut on Sunday morning for the first time since the Blitz. The Dean put out a statement on Friday, announcing that the cathedral would be closed until further notice "because of the legal requirements placed upon us by fire, health and safety issues." This came as a surprise to the protesters who'd taken the advice of the Fire Brigade earlier in the week and rearranged their tents to ensure emergency access. The side entrance, the one with the wheelchair ramp, remains entirely unobstructed. Even round the front, approaching from Ludgate Hill, a broad protester-free path is freely available. Indeed, I have to say it was damned simple to walk through the camp, or indeed not through the camp, and climb the steps with ease to the cathedral's closed doors [photo]. Bad news for tourists - no admittance, not even an apologetic pinned-up message explaining to disappointed visitors what was going on. The only advice for worshippers was to go and celebrate Eucharist at St Vedast's Church in Foster Lane instead... but no further clues as to where that might be, which seemed more than a little unhelpful.

I think we can assume that capitalism is unlikely to crumble in consequence to a tented village round the corner from Merrill Lynch, however noble its intentions. I fear that the Dean of St Paul's is unlikely to reconsider his risk register, however seemingly unnecessary his safety shutdown appears. And I suspect that this communal occupation is entrenched for the long haul, at least until the portaloo system collapses or until forcibly evicted by the powers that be. So expect stalemate at the Cathedral for the foreseeable future. The 1% will not be changed, and the 99% will not be moved.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this Easter?
Monday 21st April (noon-6pm)
The Feast of St George
Food stalls and bun fights
in Trafalgar Square. Ho hum.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
thelondonphile
in the aquarium
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
london daily photo
london reconnections
150 great tube things

read the archive
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv