Friday, April 03, 2009

G20 Summit, part 1

AOG, London

The night before the G20 Summit in London, I thought of traipsing over to check out the premises and pick up my press pass, but reading the instructions, it would have been useless: it had to be turned in the minute you left the premises. So no.

I was in the City, just outside of Liverpool Street Station, jabbering away when I overheard a man telling a couple that they would be "better off" walking since no buses were getting through due to the protest down the street.

I glanced over but saw nothing, so I continued to talk and make my mind up as to how best to get back home: bus or train?

When I finished talking, I walked back to the station’s entrance, and there, in the distance, I could see and hear the protest.

Some of the people around me were intrigued by it and decided to get a closer look. I too was tempted, but chose against it. But there is definitely something very vertigo-like about a large group of people trying to get to where you are.

I remember reading once that the definition of vertigo at great heights was not the fear they caused, but rather the desire to jump when we see the void in front of us. Something like this is what I felt when I saw that mob. And, of course, I let it be.

I had a long day ahead of me (just how long it turned out to be I had no idea), and for a minute thought if I should go to the West End.

Once again thinking about next day’s events made me go home and do some reading so as to be prepared for the G20 Summit.

I took the escalator down and popped into WHSmith. I bought a copy of Newsweek and The Economist and took the train replacement bus back home. I remember hearing the crowd outside as I left the newsagents.

In the end, I’m glad I did not witness what happened. RBS, just across the street from the station, was attacked by the protesters.

I have never been one to enjoy violent forms of protest. I never see the point. You don’t like bankers? Fine, do something constructive about it.

Rioting seems hardly the best way to put your point across. I am not saying they don’t have a valid point. It is just that the delivery does away with the content.

I read in the press that many protesters, when demonstrating across the city, were shouting “Jump” at the bankers who were leering at them from their glass towers and, as the press said, “taunting” them waving 10 pound notes at crowd. Childish and unnecessary.

So I went home, and the next day had a very early morning. Made my way down to the Excel, in East London as fast as I could, and I can’t say that I had any problems getting there. Except, of course, that the venue is very far from my place.

And the rest of civilization.

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