"The Charlie Dimmock Experience"
- Guerilla Gardening in Parliament Square (May 1st, 2000)


It was inevitable, given what occurred on June 18th 1999, that the May Day anti-capitalism protests would be so heavily policed as they were. I got a taste of what was to come at the Critical Mass ride the previous Friday, when there was a considerably higher turnout of police than usual and t.v. news crews were out to get the scoop of scoops. I myself was interviewed by a reporter for BBC TV news with a cameraman in tow. He asked all the usual questions, which I answered (tactfully, of course!). He then asked me if I had a message for the protestors gathering in London over the weekend. "Enjoy yourselves and don't do anything naughty," was my reply. The reporter seemed a little disappointed by my remark, but that was all I had to say (did he really think that I was going something imflammatory, which, with a bit of sly editing, could
be used out of context? Somehow, I think not).

Here's the first pic I got that day and it was taken on Parliament Square, where everyone had gathered. The police had sprayed the ground to stop demonstrators from sitting down and gathering there, but that didn't deter anyone at all (particularly if you've got yesterday's paper helping you from getting a soggy bottom), and later on the authorities were to regret that action (more on that soon).
I met a lady who's something of a regular at the South library in Islington, where I work on Saturdays come up to me and talked a while. She usually asks for the 'Time Out' we have behind the counter, but I found her selling party whistles (she v.kindly gave me one for nothing, how nice!) and as I left her to flog those she had left, I noticed a protestor who was cunningly disguised as a
policeman waving a flag with his friends.

It's amazing who you meet at events like this, y'know. Here's a person taking a break from attending his wife's ante natal classes to take in what was going on nearby. After three spin-doctored years, the first signs of a radical stance from 'New' Labour? Dream on!

Here's a statue of a bloke named General Smuts, who fought in some war or other (any amateur historians know
which one?) flanked by various protestors.

The 'Square had gotten a little crowded for my liking, so I stood in the middle of the road instead. Just at that moment, a gleaming black Mercedes coupe drove through the crowd, complete with police escort. Having seen what
had happened to some brand new Mercs in a showroom
near the treasury building the previous year, I can't
say I was all that surprised really.

This pic was taken while I found myself talking to a lady with a mountain bike who'd come to enjoy whatever was to occur during the day. "Oh look," she said, pointing to some people perched in a tree on the 'Square to our right. "Got a lovely view of everything going on, don't you think?"
I agreed with her and got a snap of them.

Here's Sir Winston Churchill's statue, before protestors (following precise & exact orders from daytime t.v.'s Richard & Judy) gave it a makover. I found myself in front of a news camera for the second time in three days (this time, the reporter worked for a dutch t.v. station). Unlike on the previous Friday, the reporter asked the lady with the mountain bike and myself questions that were probing, but not provocative and she wasn't disappointed that both of us hadn't said anything imflammatory. While we were being interviewed, someone wrapped green 'Reclaim The Streets' exclusion tape around the four lamposts forming a square within which we stood. Here's two pics I took of the tape and who was ringed within it below.
 


 
 

Standing where I was, I saw a bloke to my right who'd climbed up a street lamp-post and began to secure a banner. As there were CCTV cameras aplenty in the area, he had his face covered with a scarf and wore dark glasses
(he wasn't looking to feature on 'Crimewatch').

Here's some policemen who were a little underdressed compared to their colleagues I saw later that day. I always refer to this particlar RTS do as the 'You've Been Framed demo', as both police and demostrators came with camcorders to record their version of the truth (and claim £250 from the lady off 'Emmerdale', if they got lucky).

 At a sudden signal, some of the protestors rushed into the 'Square and began to strip the turp from it (this was made far easier for them by the police spraying the ground
earlier) and those of us who'd been given a bag of manure
at the 'Citical Mass' on Friday (lion dung, I've been told it was) handed them over to those who began to indulge in a spot of guerilla gardening, laying the turf in the middle of
the road and sprinkling seeds all over it (this never
happens in 'Ground Force', would Alan Titchmarsh approve, I wonder?).


 

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