Waking up after yesterday’s protest – Heathrow! B-A-A! We don’t want your third runway! – was altogether an unpleasant experience. A dream had filled my night with depression: I had given birth to two stripy grey kittens. One died immediately at birth, the other was strong and keen to live. I began breastfeeding it, still a kitten, only to discover, as it drank the milk, that it was in fact my partner, J. Me the adult I am today, he the part-kitten, part-man of my dreams. His body was of kittens, his head the same very head I saw when I woke up. But the worst part of the dream was a post on The Sharp Side which said that Unstrung was breastfeeding a kitten who was not a real revolutionary nor a real socialist and that I should be ashamed.
Christ. Sorry Sharp Side. There we are. This must say something about yesterday’s demonstration and our role in it.
Well, here are the pictures. I think they largely speak for themselves…
Sunday, at about midday, we all set off from the camp….
I was a wee bit jealous of these guys, who had strangely high voices… and gave one journalist a bit of his own medicine with a quick Q&A (and shortly, he hurried off).
All the while, we were being watched from above, by helicopters, cameras, policemen on horseback, policemen with cameras, and policemen with eyes. I didn’t count how many police were there but we were continually and at all times surrounded by them.
Everyone was treated as a threat, including this dangerous-looking man in his three-wheeler wheelchair.
No wonder they needed these beasts to control us all…
Whose world? Our world! Whose world? Our world? Whose world? Our world!
Half way to Harmondsworth, and we all get stopped again. Many of us took the chance to pee in the bushes, and share deep insights with other protesters. Particularly of the female variety: a long march and endless hanging around while the police dither about is never great when you’re on. You men don’t know how lucky you are…
Tall man: ‘Fucking liberals, this isn’t direct action. We should just attack!’
Shorter man: ‘Oh, shut up. We’re not doing politics on this protest!’
… and here’s another. Meanwhile,
Middle-aged woman: ‘I don’t want no fuckin’ punk spitting ‘n’ pissin’ on my village green. Give ‘em one drink and get ‘em out.’
Middle-aged man: ‘This pub’s gonna make a fortune outta of ‘em all. Whether you like them or not, that’s gotta be good for us.’
More police (looking bored).
The walk was getting very tiring… This guy went the whole way, shaming many of those who looked out of their windows and couldn’t face the rain, the wind and the police. He marched right to the end.
On the final leg, we passed the local detention centre, where hundreds of asylum seekers – many of them children – are being held. Someone made an announcement, that there are more asylum seekers coming into Britain today because of climate change than political reasons, which I have to say, I thought was a slightly redundant comment. How is that measured? Where does that figure come from?
Or maybe I’m being churlish… but anyway, it made me think a lot about the places those people have come from and, whatever anyone says, the fact that we can demonstrate without being shot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also deeply suspicious of demonstrating here, particularly since it’s been used as a political weapon by the UK and US governments who say, ‘They demonstrate, therefore we are democratic’. It’s nonsense. Nevertheless, I think a lot of people haven’t got the first clue how fortunate we are – I mean, really not a clue. And – can I say this without making enemies? – I was pissed off that a few people marching (a tiny, half a handful) were way off their heads, almost unable to stand up. It does our case no good at all. I kept thinking about various countries I have worked in where few people dare demonstrate because they believe they really might be killed. I thought about the demos I’ve seen where people were killed. And then I look back at these guys, tumbling about the A4 because they’re so pissed, and I wanted to kick them way up the arse. But anyway…
The police didn’t seem to know what they were doing at first. Closing us in, then moving out. They were very panicky, very angry and very aggressive. It was credit to all of us that nothing got out of hand: if it had, police provocation IMHO would have been the major factor.