the dream after the demo

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….

‘Don’t buy flown, Grow yer own’

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.

… and just look at this ‘orrible lot.

No wonder they needed these beasts to control us all…

The amazing, one and only, Rinky-Dink, rolling into Sipson village. Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang blasts out from the sound system, and everyone is singing along. Yep, it was that wild.

The police hold us up for ages as we try to leave Sipson village. Mixed reports as to whether they’re trying to help us – by clearing the A road we need to cross to move onto the next village – or whether they’re trying to stop us from continuing on our way towards Harmondsworth.
Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets!
Whose world? Our world! Whose world? Our world? Whose world? Our world!

‘You fly, We die’

Finally, we get going again and head off to Harmondsworth. The guy with the hat was powering the Rinky-Dink sound system, together with that very energetic kid infront, and singing along at the same time, into the microphone. I just can’t remember what…

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…

Patient protesters here: thought some, too patient. I overheard this:
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!’


Another dangerous protester relaxes while waiting to enter Harmondsworth village…

… and here’s another. Meanwhile,

George Monbiot tries to negotiate with the police…

Eventually, we’re let through. I was second into the ladies’ at The Five Bells, as a long queue began to snake out of the door. A lot of the locals here were delighted to see us, but some less so:
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).

Eventually, we kick off again – to the main target, the BAA building. I even got a ride on the Rinky-Dink (and in case you’re wondering, that’s not me with the mic…) We were singing ‘Heath Row! B-A-A! We don’t want no third runway!’

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.

We saw a lot of this: people watching with their thumbs up. What a shame they wouldn’t come out and join us.

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…

We made it to BAA. Riot police all over the place. Someone said: ‘Can anyone else see a riot here? Can anyone at all?’ We all trotted into the car park, kids waiving banners, the Rinky-Dink chugging on, the wheelchairs turning, the violins being played, the guitars being strummed. Flapjacks handed out to hungry arrivals… and there were the riot police. It really was pathetic. On the right, here, is my better half, Mr J.

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.

We stayed a while, walked around, talked a bit, sang a few more songs about climate change, and then, a little shamefully, we left. Even that proved tricky: the police wouldn’t let us cross one road, insisting we crossed another. When asked why – we weren’t breaking the law – the guy didn’t seem to know. We tried another, he didn’t even answer, just turning his head away from us and stiffening that lower lip. The protest’s legal observers noted all this – and so much more – in their notepads. It’ll be interesting to see what the overall legal picture of the day was.

Greatest respect to those who spent the night there (the lady above, on the left, with red top and red necklace, sang for most of the day, into the Rinky-Dink mic, and had an amazing voice). It was cold and damp, and they have done us all very proud. The shame of the protest was the fact that there weren’t more people on it. Perhaps that was the location, but frankly, it wasn’t exactly far away from public transport so I’m not really sure I buy that. It was a very good idea to go through the villages that will be destroyed if all goes ahead. It was a very good idea to let the locals see that they are not alone. But what a shame there weren’t more of us.

Where, oh where, were you all?


5 thoughts on “the dream after the demo

  1. Sorry Sharp Side? What about me? Turned into a politically infirm Oedipal kitten-man chimera. Isn’t this actionable?

  2. Good report Lara, thanks 🙂
    As you say, where were people??? I have posted again on this at the Tomb. Okay you might not think the form of a protest is the best available, but you still support/ participate (e.g. sectional strikes)…
    I think that the climate camp movement has really moved on from last year (although obviously there are still problematic issues, e.g. attitude to the media). Partly this is through them camping somewhere that was in London, not in the middle of the countryside, and because Heathrow is hated by local communities, even – often – when they work there…

  3. Thanks Rachel. Unfortunately I think a lot of people are just sticking their head in the sand. Not me, not my problem, it’s inevitable etc. My own view is, that apart from the fact it is important to protest because we should push our rights and not take them for granted, but also because the act itself raises your own consciousness e.g. the fact taht the police were so over the top and, I thought, aggressive on Sunday reminds you just how far this gvot will go to protect big business. But we’re a minority, that is the sad truth, a small minority. People in the UK won’t wake up until it’s too late. Of that I have no doubt!

  4. oh, and of course, there are those who believe that it’s too late already and any amount of protesting won’t make any difference…

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