Name The Pet.
Betty Frances launches her spooky new bluesy folk EP at The Electroacoustic Club, with support from The Johnny Parry Trio. Get there by 8, though, to catch the amazing, 6’9”, delicate-fingered story-crooner The Black Maria Memorial Fund – this chap is a mild-mannered superhero of the first order.
The Slaughtered Lamb 34-35 Great Sutton St, Barbican EC1V 0DX
The Black Maria Memorial Fund.
Televised Crimewave are playing an Instore at Pure Groove.
6-7 West Smithfield, London EC1A 9JX
The Long Lost play at Prick Your Finger on Wednesday 18th March at 7.30pm. A band on Ninja Tune that sound like Astrid Gilberto dropped into a bubblebath with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Belle, and Sebastian. http://www.ninjatune.net/thelonglost – London, There is a password for the resourceful with pricked fingers.
Prick Your Finger, 250 Globe Rd, Bethnal Green.
The Long Lost.
Gold Teeth and Crystal Fighters, two bands from the Amelia’s Intray are sure to pack a lively night with afrobeat rubbing up against dark pervertronic shocks.
The Paradise, 19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green W10 4AE
Sparks, the band that cannot die, will be fondling their keyboards for their hardcore devotee fanbase. Infiltrate, if you dare. Is Kentish Town big enough for the both of you?
HMV Forum, 9 – 17 Highgate RD, Kentish Town
Meanwhile, Piano Magic perform their sugary wisdom. For fans of classically trained Warp records.
Barden’s Boudoir, 36 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 7XJ
There’s also a warehouse party at the Busey Building.
133 Rye Lane, SE15
Upload Alldayer Festival. Trek out to Grays, near Thurrock for a loutish slobfest hosted by Front magazine. Highpoint will probably be Kunt And The Gang with his Bontempi synthpop ditties about unspeakably rude things. Did you spill my pint?
In a field.
A bit more relaxing and central, on the other hand, you could see Perunika performing their all-girl acapella Bulgarian Folk music.
The Cross Kings, 126 York Way, King’s Cross N1 0AX.
Nadja, Cappilary Action and DJs in your dream-local.
Barden’s Boudoir, 36 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 7XJ.
Maybe I have become a bit blase after so much rushing, ask but for some reason the brilliantly termed “swoop” didn’t phase me. To the point that I decided that I had time to visit the G20 Meltdown goings on with a mere half hour to spare before the swoop at 12.30 on the 1st of April outside the European Climate Exchange. Attempting to locate the Climate Action march, viagra approved led by a green horse, approved I headed down Threadneedle Street towards the Bank of England. A friendly female officer ushered me onwards as I sauntered past police lines and I decided that there was no chance of a kettle here, at least not just yet. Ahead of me was the most amazingly constructed dead canary, held aloft to symbolize the death of Canary Wharf.
Increasingly aware of the clock ticking I darted further into the morass of people spilling into the junction from all sides, snapping as I went.
In ten minutes I was ready to leave, but by now the atmosphere had changed and the kettle was on. Trying my best not to panic I asked a second police officer if I could please please leave. To my utmost surprise – having ascertained that I was on my own —he let me past the cordon where other journalists had failed.
With minutes to spare I grabbed my bike and sped off to Bishopsgate, noting the preponderance of people with trays of food, backpacks, pop-up tents and even great wreaths of flowers en route, apparently unhassled by the police. The road seemed already closed to traffic, as if we were expected!
Suddenly there was a commotion at the north end of the street, and a flurry of people clustered together in the road. Someone yelled “not yet!” to which I retorted “too late!” I mean, once you’ve started pitching your tent on a major thoroughfare in central London you’re hardly going to stop politely and wait a minute more to meet GMT time are you?! The police tried half-heartedly to drag people off, as they hastily climbed inside their tents, with one joker popping out the top of his kids’ tent in full hunting gear.
By the time I had glanced up again the whole street was a bustle of people and tents as far as the eye could see. A Carbon Casino with ghetto blaster sound system was hoisted up onto a carefully scouted bus shelter.
Bunting was unfurled and strung up between lampposts, food was trundled in on trailers, a toilet gazebo hosting the compost loos arrived and a vegetable stall was set up beneath a banner emblazoned Farmers Markets Not Carbon Markets. Vivienne Westwood walked past. All so surreal, all so very good.
Gradually the infrastructure took shape, with a kitchen sited near the centre of the site and three separate workshop spaces successfully set up at intervals along the road.
Here people could learn everything from the latest climate science to effective self defence, and of course the more intricate ins and outs of Carbon Trading and why it is such a bad idea. Perhaps now would be a good time to mention more on why Climate Camp decided to focus on Carbon Trading.
Our previous targets have included Heathrow and Kingsnorth, where huge new projects will put in peril our ability to rapidly cut carbon as quickly as we need to if we are to keep Climate Change in check. The government and big business justify their plans for a third runway and a new coal fired power station with Carbon Trading, whereby carbon is bought and sold as if it were any other commodity. The trouble with this concept is that it encourages growth which is simply not possible if we are trying to cut carbon emissions, as any sane person realises.
So by picking out the European Climate Exchange (which is a worldwide hub for this activity) Climate Camp hoped to highlight a problem that very few people talk about. We chose to swoop on the day before the G20 because this meeting of leaders from the top 20 richest countries was intended to sort out the world’s financial problems. They intend to do this with the same failed economic system that has dreamt up Carbon Trading as a solution to Climate Change. By setting up Climate Camp at the heart of the problem we sent a clear signal to our leaders that we cannot continue putting our faith in the current financial system when it so clearly doesn’t work. Needless to say, the outcome of the G20 has been as ill-considered as expected.
Over $1 trillion dollars will be magiked out of thin air to push into our failing economic systems. Hurrah, all is well!
But back to the street that I so often cycle down, now so transformed. Guerilla gardeners wandered past with mini barrows of primula and spray cans in hand – a nod to the guerilla gardening movement which aims to reclaim our common land, planting useful plants on public spaces.
Ironically, April 1st was also the 360th anniversary – to the day – of the moment when the Diggers reclaimed Saint George’s Hill as common land, and on which they planted parsnips, carrots and beans. The area is now a gated community for the rich and a sad indictment of the way that land has been parcelled off for the elite across the world. We later sang, en masse, the famous Digger’s Song – A World Turned Upside Down, by Leon Rosselson.
The media centre was busy fielding journos, and a welcome group coalesced to meet and greet newcomers, which by now numbered many badly dressed down bankers who were easily spotted a mile off.
If you got closer they could generally be heard saying something moronic, but I think they found it hard to find fault with our actions and we may even have educated some of the more open-minded ones.
However, I think it’s worth noting the sad truth is that some people will never care about any issue unless it directly affects themselves or their family. Happy in their comfortable lives they remain content to consume far more than their fair share of resources, whilst others across the world starve because of their activities.
Faces were painted, samosas were sold, guitars were strummed. A giant game, an adaption of snakes and ladders – runways and windmills – was played, complete with oversize dice. The police seemed to be leaving us alone.
As the day wore on more and more people drifted in from the surrounding protests to see what was going on. On the northern perimeter the legal observers for Climate Camp got stuck in a strange sandwich between police lines and black block.
When I returned later the mood had altered dramatically – a group of 5-Rhythms dancers dressed in orange and gold had organised themselves into a self-named gold block. They were dancing frantically, periodically dragging others into their merriment, sweating in enlightened ecstasy.
Gingerbread bankers were handed out to passersby, and everywhere I looked people were sharing their food. I bumped into a bunch of schoolgirls still in uniform from the morning’s classes. One of them recognized me – I looked after her as a small child on a camp. Legal observers sat in a row sketching the police in front of them.
Occasionally I would bump into another Climate Camper from our London neighbourhood, looking similarly frazzled to how I was starting to feel. And I bumped into Robots in Disguise, and half of Tatty Devine.
The atmosphere was still up, jovial, but I was worried that my camera battery was getting low and decided to head home to download photos and recharge batteries before the mood changed, as I suspected it would when dusk fell. On my return twilight was approaching rapidly between the tower blocks and the atmosphere had turned still more carnivalesque, with people really getting into the stop-start nature of human powered bike pedal sound systems. Limboing was all the rage and some cheeky girls got on top of a police van to boogie.
Many more people were joining us from a day at work, but the police were also increasing rapidly in number as they were called off duty elsewhere. Suddenly (at about 7.30pm) and without warning, they pushed forcefully into the site from the south end, beating people out of their way as they did so with riot shields and battons, even as surprised protesters raised their hands in the air and chanted the now familiar refrain “this is not a riot.”
Up until now everything had seemed so relaxed, but I for one knew that it was only a matter of time before the police decided to use more force. They may have stood by mildly amused as we entertained and educated each other in the hot sunshine of the afternoon, but by nightfall it was clear that things were about to get significantly more messy. We were now in a kettle, with people unable to get in or out, a state that remained for the next 5 hours. Those who had just arrived were utterly bemused as to the reasons for this, but there wasn’t any reasoning to do. A big consensus meeting was held at the north end to decide what we should do, and hundreds of people took part in hand wiggling to confirm that they would be staying the night. (I had my doubts about this outcome – those there to party no doubt mistook the implications of this, ie. that it would mean standing our ground and keeping the police out, not more dancing and getting drunk.)
Now seemed a good time to hold the much hyped celidh, so I located our new Climate Camp celidh band, the Carbon Raiders, and we put into practice the music we’ve been practicing over the past few weeks. Soon enough there in front of me was the familiar sight of hundreds of smiling people dancing together.
We only managed to follow a few steps correctly, but it didn’t matter; freestyling joy was the order of the day. It was as if the lines of riot cops were a million miles away, rather than 2 metres over my shoulder. For awhile afterwards much carried on as before, with many enjoying the fluffy baked potatoes for tea that remained warm to the touch – despite having been cooked the day before – many in my very own oven.
Towards midnight many were getting anxious – they’d been planning to get home, to get to work the next day. We started to become aware that there were hundreds of people outside trying to get in and those sitting on the bus shelter could see people being violently beaten back from our perimeter.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I found out the full extent of the surrounding kettles – one friend was caught in a mini kettle of 25 people for 2 hours in a narrow and claustrophobic alley, some beaten to the ground before finally being released. Marina had come down from the Meltdown and, finding herself unable to get in set up camp in the middle of Broadgate with her kettle and teacups. She showed me the bruises from the police the next day – huge great welts down her arm, but she was proud that her fine china remained unscathed throughout the ordeal. Why were these people kept away from us? Many of my friends were unable to get into the camp, despite having travelled long distances to protest. Still others were trying to retrieve belongings left inside the camp, which have since vanished – the police sent in cleaning crews at the end that apparently sent everything straight to landfill. Is this lawful? To keep someone from their belongings and then consign them to oblivion?
Once the police had beaten everyone away from our perimeters they drafted in huge amounts of riot cops (10 deep in places) to drive us off the road. There was clearly no way they were going to let us stay there for the full 24 hours and risk having us block the road for another day of commuter traffic. I believe their orders were something along the lines of needing to keep the streets clear in case a world leader wanted to get past. Most people, tired and intimidated, left as soon as they were able to, with just a dedicated few left to guard the lines. The police surged forward with no advance warning once more, picking up and tossing carelessly aside our beloved Pedals bike powered sound system. A great cry of dismay went up from the crowd – this was willful destruction of property for no discernible reason.
Police, jaws set in aggressive grimaces, were flailing out at cowering protestors who sat on the floor with their hands in the air. Is this what democracy looks like? When the right to protest is treated with such disdain? Despite promises to the contrary, no attempt at communication was made. The same old story seems to be repeating itself time and time again.
As a camper climbed a traffic light to retrieve a banner I overheard a policeman sneering that he hoped he slipped and fell. Is this what we pay our taxes for? The police are not here to protect the interest of the ruling elite, they are here to facilitate lawful protest and protect the welfare of all citizens. Yet this attitude is sadly lacking. For every friendly humane copper there are 50 behind him or her who revel in the carnage that provoking a riot ensures.
My friend was snatched from the front line and so I retreated from my position inches from the police to retrieve his belongings and take them out to him. I was also concerned by this point about my camera being taken and the photos erased – there were already reports of this having happened to other photographers earlier in the day. It seemed increasingly obvious how things were going to end, and sure enough when I made it back around the block ten minutes later the street was clear, apart from a dreadful mess of abandoned tents and bedraggled bunting. It was very sad to see the state of the street, when Climate Camp is so committed to clearing up so that no trace remains. But what choice did we have? We just didn’t have the resources to clear up more than those individuals left behind could personally manage. We stuffed as much bunting as we could into a backpack and trundled home, feeling emotionally bruised and battered.
…But what a day! We swooped, we camped, and we raised the issue of Carbon Trading higher up the political agenda than it has ever been before. I feel certain that many people came away feeling much more empowered and assured that it is possible to create another world. Now we start work on ideas for the Climate Camp this summer, August 26th – September 2nd. Throughout 2009 we will be focusing on the failures of our current economic system, for the same principles of free markets cannot possibly save us from Climate Chaos. The only solution is to decrease consumption, increase efficiency, and find alternatives to fossil fuels, fast. Put the dates in your diary now. And follow us on the main Camp Twitter and Twitter for London-based campers.
- Climate Camp London – Carbon Trading Weekend.
- COP out CAMP out
- Climate Camp – Heavy Handed Police Tactics
- Climate Camp: Where do we go from here?
- The Great Climate Swoop 2009: A retrospective