Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Obama owes me $50

Dear silly mongoose,

You thought you were going to venture into the city on the eve of the G20 summit and have a smooth ride, but guess what? Your connecting station is closed, biznatch! So here, have an extra 45 minutes to add to your journey. April Fools!
The Universe

The actual diversion didn't really cost me more, directly, for the journey. So I just pro-rated my imaginary fee for the time taken, and when the president comes to my neighbourhood tomorrow, I'm going to fold my bill into a paper plane and fly it his way. Of course, it will probably be shot down by tiny secret service arrows before it even catches a wind, but that's to be expected. I didn't actually sense much of the hype around today's meetings, but that is not to say that there wasn't plenty hype to be sensed.

The media are already wagging their tails over what Michelle O is wearing, which admittedly is becoming more and more of a thing to behold (although she had something of a miss today what with the granny cardigan and gingham skirt, but after the yellow, cinched-waist dress she arrived in, we can forgive her that transgression.) I always love to hear Michelle speak and see her very expressive, always smiling face as she greets colleagues. You just know there's a load of smartness and sincerity about to spill forth.

But outfits and celebrity chef-procured dinners notwithstanding, most of the attention, believe it or not, was on the president today, with quite a bit also on the protesters of whom we were all meant to be so fearful.

Police made at least 24 arrests as anti-capitalist protesters tried to upstage the G20. They included 11 demonstrators trying to drive an armoured personnel carrier towards the Bank of England.

Thousands gathered outside the Bank and scuffles soon broke out. The most violent action came when a group of hardline protesters stormed a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which received billions of pounds of taxpayer funds last year but has been widely criticised for rewarding its former chief executive with a huge pension.

I'm right now blinking slowly at all this, because while I firmly believe that citizen participation - whether by protest, letter drafting or other methods - is necessary to such processes, I don't understand how destroying a bunch of crap and breaking and entering sends any message other than "we really like to break things." Of course, we also have to bear in mind that we're talking about the Metropolitan Police here, who, if last year's Notting Hill Carnival experience is anything to go by, have no clue how to contain small skirmishes without bludgeoning scores of unsuspecting bystanders. So we might want to await a more balanced account.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has also been attracting plenty attention, what with all his threats to pick up his toys and flounce off tomorrow if the G20 doesn't deliver on his desire for tighter regulation of international finance. The spirit of his threat can be understood - he does not want to waste time with a bunch of fancy, touchy-feely language that yields only promises and no plans - but I'm not sure what such an upset would achieve. A better tactic might be to continue yelling from the inside, until the final communique at least resembles a plan for scheduled, direct action.

So the summit comes to the Excel Center tomorrow. Between the nervous bankers trying to look all down and incognito in their pressed jeans, and the security officers instructing you that you must take a roundabout walking route so as to pass within sniffing distance of their dogs, it may take me a while to report. But report I shall. Because of course everyone will want to know if I in fact managed to get my fifty dollars.

1 comment:

  1. The 'protestors' that smashed up the RBS, Mr McScamp calls them 'Anarkiddies', rich kids that have no real understanding of anarchy or desire to be involved in any positive dialogue.

    They just want to break things.


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