‘The wrong place at the wrong time’ is possibly going to be my epitaph, such as my lack of luck in avoiding embarrassment, mishap and violence.
I’m starting to think its more than a coincidence, such is my poor record in walking right into bad situations. So when, in 2001, police illegally kettled 1,000 May Day protesters in Oxford Circus for seven hours, guess who just happened to be walking through that very point when the police blocked off all routes out? I was only there to show a French friend the street the cover of an Oasis LP was shot on, and next thing I know I’m on Channel 4 news as riot police randomly clobber the captive crowd with shields and batons. Yep, the same bloke who decided to climb the High Atlas the year Morocco suffered its worst winter in 37 years; the same bloke who who decided to go out into Beeston the night last year a party on Foster Avenue burst into violence, when a youth stabbed another, fled to a pub, and decided to use my table as a hiding place just as his pursuers, armed with bottles and sticks, chose to appear. The same bloke who writes an unflattering piece on Anna Soubry, pops out for a coffee and finds her SourBerriness sipping a Latte the ONLY other customer within The Bean.
If I had any belief in God, I’d swear he was out to get me. But atheism frees me from being a Happy Shopper Job*, so I merely think that when Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox eventually unravel the chaos of the universe they’ll find its all being driven by a goblin with a vendetta against me. In a black hole.**
So, I hear you all cry, what is this wallow in egotistical paranoid self -pity in aid of , Lord Beestonia? As you may know, I like nothing more of an evening after a hard day at work sitting in sultry meeting halls listening to MPs try and sell themselves. Its an addiction I acquired through the fraught battles of the Beestonia Election, when Soubry, Watts and Palmer*** would lock horns while I sat in a puddle of my own arse-sweat jotting notes for this very site. Then came my meeting with David ‘Dan’ Miliband, and his promise to grant Beestonia independance when he becomes PM.
So its with no hesitation that I say ‘Yes please’, to an invite to see Diane Abbott, and practically salivate when I hear there will be free tea and bourbon creams. Miliband never offered us a biscuit, not even a RichTea. I grab my notepad and stick a pencil behind my ear, and head off. The first sign something was amiss was right outside the venue (The Mechanics Institute, just off Shakespeare Street). Stencilled in white paint on the paving outside are the words ‘NATIONAL FRONT’ . I only half take this in, rather hopefully assuming its some publicity by a local band who had badly misjudged their name, ignorant of the violent bigots that swopped bovver-boots for brogues and became the BNP a couple of decades ago.
It was a good-natured meeting, and I really warmed to Abbot. She is, as she explained, the only real left-wing candidate; the only grassroots candidate; the only candidate that wasn’t an advisor to either Blair or Brown; and she chatted with a non-pragmatic, ideologically strong vigour that was refreshing after the rather moribund centralist cynicism that her opponents speeches are drenched in. She skillfully toyed with my own political g-spots, throwing out phrases such as ‘bankers tax’ , ‘nationalisation’, ‘civil liberties’ and ‘core socialist values’ with a wantonness that made you think the Third Way had never happened. However. When she was talking about such lovely things, I couldn’t help but see she looked very much like my eleven year old niece does when I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, staring upwards with a blissful grin as she described various flights of fantasy that you really hoped would happen but knew couldnt. ****
As I made these notes, a fracas kicked off outside.
I briefly saw three policemen drag someone away from the ground-floor windows, then heard chanting. As the meeting broke for a tea-break, we were informed that the EDL, those twattish clowns that really are not just an excuse for explicit organized racism, no no no, were trying to storm the building due to a Unite Against Fascism meeting upstairs. I decided to take a closer look, so went to the front doors to investigate. I was told by a rather stressed looking policeman that this was a rather bad idea, and I should really get back inside. I did, but not before seeing a shabby group of chanting, howling idiots in terrible leisure-wear bunched outside the Orange Tree Pub, taunting the thickening police cordon stopping them from storming the building. Instead, I went upstairs to check out the UAF meeting,and see if they were aware of the commotion outside. I got the wrong room though, and walked into what I think was a Bridge club occupying another suite, a cluster of old ladies sedately playing cards, blissfully unawares of the potential riot about to kick off a flaw below. I eventually found the UAF, and had a chat with a few of them,darkly chuckling over the incredibly misjudged scheduling of a fascist-baiting meeting with the campaign stop of one of Britain’s most left-wing MPs. Who also happens to be a few miles the wrong side of pasty when it comes to pigmentation. The rest of the meeting was spent nervously realising I might not be able to leave the building for some time, at least not without having my face heartily juxtaposed with the kerb.
I still had some concentration left in me, however, and got to briefly chat to Diane, asking her if there was room in an Abbot cabinet for Portillo (a flat, definate no), and get her autograph. Check it out: ‘Love’? Two kisses? Does another female MP find me sexy? Watch this space… As the meeting split up and everyone wondered how the hell they were going to get home with the baying fascists on the doorstep, I joined forces with Beestonian Cllr. Steve Barber and his son and headed out a fire exit and a twisty route through backstreets, back into the city centre. Steve talked of his memories of Forest winning the European Cup as we hit the security of the Market Square, the anxious worry of earlier now dissipating in the soft evening glow.
One of the EDF’s chants was ‘No surrender to the Taliban’. Heres an idea, nob-cheeses. How about you put your money where your gobshite mouths are, and get your arses over to Afghanistan and take the fight to them. Or join them. Seriously, you’d make great bedfellows. Bullying, intolerant fascists, meet bullying intolerant fascists. Then kindly have a schism and suicide bomb yourselves into human gravy. Please, cos you’re as welcome here as a fart in a crowded lift.
I will NOT comment regarding those who texted me when I was under siege, inquiring if one of the protesters looked anything like Mr Craig Cox.
*Im making a biblical reference, not referring to employment at a convenience store. Do keep up.
** I’m making a Cosmological reference, not referring to Stapleford.
*** A vastly under-rated prog-rock band from 1974
****No offence, Becky, I’m sure you will become at least something akin to a ballet-dancing, noble-prize winning doctor cum human rights lawyer someday. Definitely two of those.
On a happier note, I can’t not show off a rather brilliant photo taken by an old friend of mine, Mister Phil ‘Fuzz’Tooze. A cracking photographer, and a lovely bloke. ‘Ave a butchers at this,me ole Chinas… its here http://www.redbubble.com/people/riotphoto/art/5696488-1-the-swing-and-council-house