Thursday, 19 January 2012

To St Paul's Occupy London camp, via court


Wednesday, and a familiar face, or rather pillow-case. Anon is on duty in Occupy's information tent. Today his outfit is a combination of Mickey Mouse and Peanuts patterns. He rings the changes with five pillow-cases.

His beautiful soft young hands with oval manicured nails form graceful patterns and gestures.
'They weren't like this when I was a KP,' he says.
'KP?'
'Kitchen porter. I used to bite my nails. I'm only as happy as my nails are long. I invented fingernail weaving. I used to cut slits in my nails and put white cotton threads through them. It's poor man's dreadlocks.'

'You do no manual work now,' I say. 'You have long nails like a Chinese emperor.'

A young male Chinese fashion student walks in: 'I want to know what people here wear.' I point to Anon.

I ask how Anon's partner feels about the camp.
'What partner?'
'You're wearing a wedding ring.'
'I'm wearing it in case I meet a partner.'
I pry a bit more, uselessly.

He shows me miniature portraits of Occupiers that he has drawn on the screen of his mobile phone with his fingertips. I think of Jane Austen's 'two inches of ivory'.

A youthful reporter from The Sun asks about this afternoon's court judgment. The Occupiers have been instructed to leave St Paul's within seven working days unless they appeal successfully.

I was in the pressure-cooker courtroom but the law forbids anyone to describe what happened in the way I want to. A flame-haired male law student, pale and slender like a pre-Raphaelite lily, was in the public gallery throughout the trial, taking notes in a sloping hand.

I tell the Sun reporter that I was at primary school with Jilly Johnson.
'Who?'
'One of the first page three girls.'

He says something profoundly offensive about Jilly and me.

When the reporter leaves, Anon sagely describes the trial's outcome as a 'Pyrrhic defeat.' Sid Vicious's My Way is blaring out of the speakers outside.

Jack
One of the more fragile campers harangues Anon: 'In seven days' time I'll see yer face! Gerra job!' He gives me a yellow rose and calls me miss.

'What does shill mean?' I ask Anon. 'It's a word I've heard a lot in the camp.'
'Liar.'

People wander in to offer help on the day of the camp's departure.
'I used to be a kitchen helper on the Aldermaston marches,' says one.
'You have to explain Aldermaston here,' I murmur.
Someone looks attentive.
'Every year,' he begins, 'we used to......'

This is like dropping into a club. There is nowhere like it.

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