Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Sticks And Spittle... With Frothy Latte.

It's enough to get the heart pumping and the adrenaline rushing through my furred up veins. I could almost feel my iris widen when my producer, safe in her plumped up seat back at the studio, coffee in hand, hair neatly sprayed, said the word...  'Protest' followed by 'Demonstration.'

The People are revolting.....

Now any news junkie, or colleague of the news gathering persuasion will know that these days, the word protest can mean a lead story, a day of frantic filming and reporting as the gathered masses of the Proletariat vent their spleens in the general direction of the ruling Bourgeoisie. Various objects hurled towards batton wielding law enforcement officers, eager to try out their new training technique of stamping down the great unwashed, without leaving marks.

Ever since the last general election, students, workers and various pressure groups have protested their various grievances sometimes with alarming ferocity, trashing buildings, running amok through city streets, and generally poking Royalty with sticks, enjoying their new found reasons to demonstrate.

So it was that i found myself scrabbling through my truck, looking for my shin pads and helmet, and the protective lens cover, in case things turned really nasty. So i pumped myself up for the fun ahead. The thing is, today i was working for the local news. In my heightened state of expectation of a good old British punch up, i forgot that this wasn't London, but Portsmouth. The protesters may be in their hundreds, not thousands, and that the student population of this fair city have been rather benign of late.

Placards... Food for thought.

So i found myself in a sunny city square, surrounded by about 100 or so assorted union members, socialist party members and the generally disgruntled. They chanted a few well worn slogans starting with the words 'No if's... No but's... etc etc. They waved their placards with an alarming lack of zeal or passion, and were spoken to by a short list of speakers who preached to the already converted and said thank you as they left.

I agreed with much of what was said. I heard what was said because i could hear every word over the silent crowd, who clapped in the right places and generally nodded their agreement with the words 'He's right y'know...' There was to be no raised fists in angry defiance, no rushing and trashing of the nearby council offices who were by now, already plotting the cutbacks to the very peoples jobs and futures who were gathered before me. Although at one point, i thought things were going to kick off when a passing man muttered the words 'Left wing wankers' before scuttling off towards the train station. He was met with a very stern response of 'Excuse me...?' but things went rather downhill after that.

It was only when my reporter, a rather charming journo by the name of Alex, asked if she could buy me a frothy latte from the kiosk not thirty feet away from the seething masses, doing a roaring trade in coffee and assorted cakes. By now the placards were drooping and the banners were being folded away, and in a few short minutes the small crowd had dispersed. Mainly to get a frothy latte from the coffee vendor who charged a small workers fortune to taste the sweet flavour of his Arabica blend and a slice of lemon drizzle. Capitalist bastard.

Oh well... Let them eat cake.

Paul Martin