Seat at the table

I came to London this morning to try to stop the world burning, or drowning, or whatever it's going to be. Such hubris, but I don't know what else to do. I've given up my car, I've stopped flying and I buy local food. But that's nothing, just nothing in the face of vast bank investments in vast oil and gas-extracting corporates. Nothing in the face of a government that pays lip service to the climate emergency then ignores it. Anyway, here I am, having my head counted and trying to beat back my despair enough to sing.

The way this key junction in Covent Garden was occupied was a precision bit of organisation. We marchers thought we were just marching up one carriageway of Charing Cross Road. Then we were asked to move across the whole road. We waited, then we were directed back the way we'd come. As we arrived at this junction it was filled with pink smoke and we were invited to sit on pink seats around a vast pink table.

Everything had been put in place very rapidly from a truck and a van blocking two of the six roads leading to the junction with brave people then locking on to the vehicles so they couldn't be moved. See first extra for advised reading when you are locked onto a truck. By the time the outmanoeuvred police had regained control and blocked the six roads, most of us were already inside their cordon.

The theme is that everyone is entitled to a seat at the table and the focus of the talks was on listening to the global south. We were challenged on our demand for Truth. Whose truth? When (if) the world is rebuilt, whose model will we use? Excellent presentations from the diaspora.

My long-term despair was challenged by asking us all to turn round and smile at a stranger. Then another. Then another. It had an extraordinary effect.

We were told about another exercise where people were asked to talk with a stranger about what family meant. I panicked at the prospect because I knew I would cry. But we didn't do it. We were just told that when it was done in a packed room in Bristol no-one could speak and everyone cried.

It reminded me of a friend of mine from Bristol I haven't seen for two years. I looked up and there she was 20 metres from me. We hugged and yes, I admit there were tears. I feel quite thin-skinned at the moment.

The next unexpected person to turn up was comedian Mark Thomas (second extra) who riffed on the importance of being annoying, ©Pritti Patel, and her bill to prevent annoying demonstrations.

We all played musical chairs and listened to whoever we happened to sit next to when the music and our dancing stopped. But no chairs were removed. We don't need competition and there are no winners.

This evening the arrests, ©Priti Patel, have started.

I'm not able to process any of my pictures, taken on a very old phone, so please forgive the quality. I'll replace them with improved versions after I get home. 

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