With at least 10 police vans parked outside and more than 60-70 police officers on one side of the building alone, what, i wondered could require such costly police commitment? Had there been some new terrorist attack? Or worse, was Tom Cruise in town?
Nope. It was 50 boho, well-to-do, Chelsea-dwelling, Chateauneuf du Pape-supping luvvies dressed in 1920's eveningwear, who were protesting against The National Coal Awards through the media of dance and crap slogans.
Why is it the police ALWAYS arrive in disproportionately large numbers and generally behave like sneering bullyboys? They seem to have two distinct roles: one good (serving the needs of the community), one bad (serving the needs of the ruling elite) and switching heads - Wurzel Gummidge-Stylee - depending on the occasion. Talk about indoctrination.
Anyway, I digress. The very notion of a National Coal Awards tickles me. I mean, how boring would your life have to be for that to count as a good night out? What, for chrissakes, were the categories?
- Black as coal Award (Positive Discrimination)
- Coals to Newcastle Award (Selling it back to the miners at a huge mark-up)
- Old King Coal Award (Best exploitation of a Third World country)
- Coal-ition of the Willing Award (Pit with least Trades Union membership)
They were clearly the kind of people who think "a night in the cells" is a reference to late night shopping at Harrods (think about it), yet, wonderfully, one of the organisers was handing out "arrest crib sheets".
And how do i know that this was a more refined class of protestor? One of the chichi throng was recognised by yours truly as being a Sunday Times "Style Magazine" hackette, who is probably doing some sort of piece on "Protest Chic". Hardly a direct action type of gal, hardly a revolutionary crowd.
As for the slogans, organisers Climate Rush really pushed the boat out with modern classics "No new coal", "No more death factories" and what sounded very much like "Meals on wheels" but was actually, i think, "Deeds not words".
Jesus, no wonder they were bored.
Best of all, rumour abounded that the Coal Awards people had changed venue at the last minute and weren't even there. We British sure give good protest.
I didn't stay long. Nor, I imagine, did they.