Sunday, March 09, 2008

London Deadlocked as Demonstrators Demand Niceness

Much of central London was shut down yesterday. A taxi driver gave one of those immemorial taxi driver shrugs when I asked him why. A seven-foot tall motor-cycle cop was standing in the middle of Lower Regent Street next to a temporary no-entry sign erected to prevent traffic reaching Piccadilly Circus. I asked him what was going on. The answer was interrupted by a scooter attempting to sneak past him. 'If,' said the cop to the scooterist with a deadly pause between each heavily italicised word, his leather pants creaking as he bowed, the better to fix the attention of the offender, 'you don't know what this sign means, sir, perhaps you ought to get a 'Ighway Code. I pointed that way...' he gestured down Jermyn Street, '... because I wanted you to go that way.' He turned back to me, his back straightening stiffly. 'It is a demonstration ...' his tone had now become ironic/official, '... about the rights of women in the Middle East and countries like that.' 'Oh,' I said, baffled. Soon afterwards I found the vanguard of the demo bearing down on me. I tried to work out from the signs what it was all about. The word 'women' was visible everywhere and there was a big sign promoting the view that violence against women was a bad thing. Rows of bystanders were watching, bemused. It was, I now know, International Women's Day. Neither I not the women in my life had ever heard of this and nobody had the faintest idea why a demonstration closing down central London was necessary. No particular, urgent issue was a stake, rather there was simply a determination to support women. They may as well have been marching to demand niceness or good manners. I suppose it was happening because, when the organisers approached the authorities, nobody had the balls to say no. I bet that cop would have told them where to get off.
'Madame, I cannot get my 'ed round your desire to paralyse the 'ub of empire on a Saturday afternoon all in the name of your deep hintuition that women is a good thing.'

11 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you didn't hear about it on Woman's Hour.

    (so, why is it International Women's Day but only Woman's Hour?)

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  2. Heh heh. Great post, Bry.

    I don't really have anything more useful to add - just showing my appreciation of your continued excellent blogging (even if you did rank Sign in the Window as Dylan's third most perfect record).

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  3. A corker indeed, Mr A. From this dispiriting list, you will see that something very like International Niceness Day already exists - November 16. I trust it is marked appropriately, i.e. by doing nothing. Pick of the bunch for me, though, is November 6 - must make a note in the diary...

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  4. Were the mounted corps on standby, as the are for Notting hill or a football match. Either way, they will be in the wrong. For if waiting in some strategic side street, are accused of expecting violence from a peaceful women's march. If not the accusation is lack of respect and equality.

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  5. Is there an international atheists' day? Perhaps there should be. A chance to get steamed up about something - er, whatever - that really is appalling, to the chant of "We want nut, nut, nuttin'!"

    And I wonder whether this strange site is a spoof or a hack, given it's name and Irish origins - www.catholic.ie

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  6. I bet that cop would have told them where to get off.
    'Madame, I cannot get my 'ed round your desire to paralyse the 'ub of empire on a Saturday afternoon all in the name of your deep hintuition that women is a good thing.'


    ...on the other hand, of course, he might just have said "Bloody women! Just get it f******sorted! It's doing me f****** head in!"

    Though, in either case, I would not be inclined to expect an immediate breakthrough.

    Dreamy

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  7. Surely the answer to this disruption is to have a National Causes Day, when anyone who wants to protest in London can. Painful for Londoners, I realise, but probably better to get it all out of the way in one go.

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  8. Isn't there a corner of Hyde Park for this sort of thing?

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  9. Not big enough, Susan. They seem to feel obliged to parade through the streets carrying placards. At one recent colourful occasion these included exhortations to kill the infidel kaffir, behead the non-believer etc. Maybe that was International Tolerance Day...

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  10. There was something like this going on in Manchester, a protest about Palestine or something. Lots of drums and earnest young people high on drugs and self-righteousness. The noise was deafening and stupefying; it reminded me of the sheep baaing "two legs bad! four legs good!" in Animal Farm - just noise designed to shout anyone else down.

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