UK Uncut Fortnum and Mason Occupation


We peel off from the main march, individually or in two and threes and meet here, an unruly group of 200 or 300 now with a common cause. Not sure exactly what we’re doing but we know we’ll be doing something. Something different to marching, marching, pacing the streets like we’re waiting for something to happen. This government, these millionaires, who have emptied out all compassion and emotion to make purses of their hearts, have declared war on us. Enough is enough. We will make something happen. We kettle a couple of stray cops then tumble down Oxford Street like rain water after a drought. “Whose streets? Our streets!” we shout. And something about the royal wedding and shoving it up their bum that we can’t quite make out, but we throw back our heads and roar anyway. Joyous, liberating laughter the soundtrack to this thirst quenching, soul quenching waterfall of cartwheeling, freefalling revolution and hope. It’s like the loved-up intensity of ecstasy except this is real. Through the crisp London air comes the wailing, whining shriek of police sirens and we glimpse their vans lurching towards us down a side street trying to cut us off. We grab each others hands, me, Eve and Cat, and run faster, harder, pulling each other along, our feet slapping the tarmac and laughing so hard we can barely breathe and suddenly we’ve outrun the police and we’re back in the gently undulating tail of the march we left an hour ago. We keep hold of each, panting and exhilarated, our eyes flicking through the ranks of demonstrators, worried that we’ll lose our new UK Uncut comrades. But we keep sight of them, spotting their red breathless faces and brilliantly, a red umbrella bobbing above the hundreds of heads. We push our way through the bodies and placards towards it and suddenly we’re back together, we’re on the pavement. Movement becomes urgent and in a flash we know what our target is: Fortnum and Mason, shopping emporium of the rich and privileged, owned by millionaire tax dodgers. Perfect! We have the element of surprise. The first twenty or so protestors pour through the opulent doors, then just in front of us the police snap down like the oily blue blade of a guillotine to cut us off. They link arms across the door, bulky, towering over us, faces set like gargoyles, guarding those who will soon be putting them out of a job as well. This is the moment. A split second where our eyes meet, we make our decision. Our mouths curl into smile. Eve and I launch ourselves at the thick blue line. We shout, “come on, push!” and Cat hurls herself into the fray. More people join in and without warning there’s no resistance. We hang on to each other to stop ourselves falling and look up. We can’t believe it; we’ve broken through, we’re in Fortnum and Masons. For a moment we just stand there looking at each other, then we high five each other and hug. Eve says it was like giving birth. It’s a surreal scene. The shop is filled with laughing, chanting protestors. It’s peaceful, it’s happy, it’s amazing. We are handing out leaflets, chanting, singing, playing the bagpipes, reading poetry, knitting – all against the vicious cuts this government is imposing on its people. Except, we are not its people. This government is acting against the interests of the majority to protect the minority of rich, privileged people to which it belongs. So we will refuse to be governed, we will refuse to obey their unspoken rules; this is dissent, this is civil disobedience. Peaceful and powerful, for we are taking our power back and will make our own rules, our own discourse. And as riot police pour through the doors, the rich carry on as the rich do, clinging on to their cream teas and stiff upper lips as chaotic, noisy, beautiful reality ricochets round their expensive, controlled bubble of a world. Most try to ignore what is impossible to ignore, but one bullish man comes up to us, plums exploding in fury from his manicured mouth as he shouts in our faces to tell us how disgusting and aggressive we are. He cannot see the irony. We ignore him and he blusters off, zigzagging away from us under the steam of his own hot air.

Outside, news of the occupation has spread and the street is bursting with hundreds more protestors cheering, chanting, sound systems blaring, hanging from traffic lights, street lights, from every bit of space. We glimpse them through the glass panes, through the barrier of police. Our energy, our cause connects us. Outside, the police are setting up lines, trying to assert order and control but they’re lumbering monoliths in their armor and boots; they’ve sent dinosaurs to try and contain a shining shimmering cloud of butterflies. Their monochrome blue suits, their visors, their shields are a riot of colour, a blazing palette of our defiance. Returning to our coach we pass buildings transformed by cracked windows and spray painted slogans and we thrill from the sight of it. Not at the violence or the destruction of it, not because it is wanton and thuggish as the press and the government name it, but because for once these are our streets and for once they reflect our reality; the passion, the anger, the rebellion of the majority for whom the ballot box is no longer relevant, who are under attack from an arrogant, cruel elite who are intent on destroying the NHS, the welfare state, all the institutions upon which ordinary people rely, with no mandate to do so. And because we understand the sickening hypocrisy of a government who condemns the ‘violence’ of a few damaged windows and paint smeared walls whilst ignoring the violence of the policies they are imposing of the people of this country. And on the coach back to Manchester, we hear that Charles and Camilla have been poked with a stick; the protests touching the symbolic heart of the inequality and injustice we are fighting.

put the kettle on

the subjects are revolting

what a smashing night

NaPoWriMo 2013: Day 3

Today’s prompt was to write a sea shanty so I took inspiration from my favourite pirate sea shanty, The Muppets’ ‘Shiver My Timbers

Sea Shanty


she anchored her feet on the ocean’s deep floor

she salted her locks and the wild winds roared

her shoulders built waves fifteen fathoms high

the green northern lights were the sweep of her eye


and the sailors with maggots’ eyes stayed on the shore

and the sailors with death’s breath stayed fast on the shore

and the sea that they feared was now safest of all


she grasped fast the manes of the waves’ white steeds

her muscles rippling with power and speed

she threw back her head to call up a storm and

shiver me timbers, the salty sea swarmed


and the sailors with maggots’ eyes stayed on the shore

and the sailors with death’s breath stayed fast on the shore

and the sea that they feared was now safest of all


orcas and sharks and shrimps so small

all manner of creature heeded her call

they swam and they surfed and they shoaled to her side

starfish and mussels arrived with the tide


and the sailors with maggots’ eyes stayed on the shore

and the sailors with death’s breath stayed fast on the shore

and the sea that they feared was now safest of all


they sat round the fire of the anemones’ glow

tall stories they told and the rum it did flow

urchins inked nautical art on her skin

she danced with the fish with gold hoops in their fins


and their laughter gave oceans their heave and their ho

their laughter gave oceans their heave and their ho