Typing by laptop-light, with the smell of woodsmoke nervously trickling from a shopping-trolley so close to where there used to be a "No Smoking on pain of sudden death" sign... my fingers are cold. "That fire's not really presenting the right image, is it?" someone asks rhetorically. "Maybe not - but how else are we going to keep warm? Anyway, pallets are renewable..."
On Friday night, 300 weary cyclists had emerged over the hill "like the 7th Cavalry come to save the world from industrial capitalism". They found the service station on London's City Road already petrol-free and be-bannered. Read the banners.
City Road is one of London's most polluted streets and one of its least lovely. Take the worst of suburban sprawl - yes, the very worst, there is a drive-through McDonalds - and scatter it among the high-rise flats ("the dogs get bigger and meaner as you go up"). Take the New Labour Yuppies of Islington at one end and the City at the other... just take it. And they did.
Bill Clinton came, with devil's horns wearing a suit with dollar tie and handing out Ignite.
There had been bicycle-powered sounds from the inimitable Rinky-Dink, but I missed them. Food Not Bombs had finished doling out dinner and were running a press-gang for a game of charades.
Pensioner woman: You're those mad people who did that mad party in Trafalgar Square, aren't you?
Kids from the flats came by to decorate the bottoms of the towers with stick-people & sonic suns. There was a bit of a problem with the teenager who really, really wanted to be wossname, Silent Bob's gabby mate out of Clerks, and insisted that tagging people's walls was just the thing to do on a November night in London. But mostly there was goodwill. I don't think the woman who offered any of the squatters who needed one a bath was being sarcastic, at all.
It made a good photo for the papers to run alongside the opening of the Kyoto farce. BBC Radio Three - that's the seriously posh channel - came too. We think they wanted a PhD thesis on political action. Sorry, the PhDs were busy putting banners up.
What type of politics would you class this as?
On Sunday night some people turned up and decided to stay, so they pitched their tent on the service station roof... and so it went on for a week of a petrol-free zone in the cold, dark city. There was a Car-free Commuter Cafe -- if you walked in you could refuel with nourishing (organic) hot soup for donations... and on the last day there was street football.
The laptop guy
Last update December 5, 1997