Saturday, 23 March 2013

Occupy: dreadgate

Tom (left) is refused permission to speak further
Inside the Royal Festival Hall the Philharmonia plays Charlie Chaplin's music to his 1936 film Modern Times, a satire on the Great Depression.

Outside the auditorium, Occupy is having a meeting. Activism and satire are an awkward mix. They create conflict in the soul of Johnny Teatent, aka Tom.

In the squat
From Tom's belt dangles a white man's dreadlock - the only one the man possessed. It is long, springy and shiny. It gives Tom a faint air of My Little Pony back to front. It is described as a scalp, a body part.

What follows is comic and tragic. The glaring need for professional intervention gets lost in a thicket of bureaucracy and self-congratulatory meeting-itis. The victim has asked me to cut what happened. (I suggest he goes to the police, but then I'm a taxpayer.)

Some people leave the meeting in a sweary flurry. Chaplin's sentimental music swells.

Next, the squat pub quiz.

The quiz is at Eileen House, Elephant and Castle, a brutal architectural disaster and subject of an eternal planning dispute. I am accused of seeking glamour in going to the squat. I wish.

'Is the asbestos on this floor?' says someone. Shrug. There is bright cheerless office lighting, a room full of bikes, grey everywhere, a couple of friendly dogs.

My friend Orlando goes to buy himself some tobacco. He comes back. He's left the tobacco in the shop. He goes back for it. Orlando and Tom are probably cool but I don't have a cool gauge. Tom has front teeth missing - knocked out by police, he claims.

Tom, Orlando and I are a team, the Radical Quiz Faction. The questions are monotonous.

'What does LASPO stand for?'
'Name two open-air squats in London.'

1 comment:

  1. Strange... yet true truths always expected and delivered here x