Its only 11.30am and I've managed to be a huge wuss once already today. Not entirely knowing what I was attending, but knowing it was against the cuts, I travelled along to spot someone with an orange umbrella outside the Ritz at 9.30am this morning, to await further instructions with fellow dissenters. Already this mere instruction filled me with a mix of excitable energy, feeling somewhat like a low key spy - hoping not only would he have an orange umbrella but perhaps a sharp black suit with red hanky peeping out of the top pocket, a bowler and a password response to allow proceedings to continue - and some concern not entirely knowing what it was I was about to take part in. A small gathering huddled around as we were told that there would be a peaceful sit in at the Vodafone flagship store to force its closure in protest of them owing the same amount in taxes that is being taken off the disability benefit. Its a horrible fact and further proof of this country's downward spiral to complete capitalist structure when big companies like that can skimp on millions while those who need it suffer. A very good thing to protest about indeed. However I was already worried that we might be protesting somewhere that needed a SOCPA license, let alone sitting in a shop a la guerrilla stylee and I walked at the back of the marching group like a total wuss. Then, near the shop, a group of police ran to the front of the group to confront them and I immediately, without even seeing what would happen, pissed off to get a coffee with my friend Rosie and left the hardcore protesters to it. Now before you quickly judge my huge inability to be a provocative activist or perhaps question my care about such matters, let me put my excuses into two bands.
Firstly, here's my pathetic excuses for escape:
1) Today I have to drive four and half hours to do a benefit gig for a children's hospice. Being arrested or even just sitting in the shop for too long would mean I wouldn't leave in time and would ultimately be screwing up another good cause.
2) Were things to go wrong, getting arrested really isn't in my top list of fun things to do. Yes I had a slip of paper telling me what to do if it happened, yes I know some of my rights about it all, but if I ever want a career in kids TV or various other areas of where I want to go in my life, I can't imagine it'd help to any extent. Even a pic of me being there could be detrimental in some ways.
Ok, and now, the real reasons:
I AM A BIG WUSS. True story. I'm reading Chris Coltrane's tweet updates (follow him @chris_coltrane) from the protest now and it all appears to be pretty peaceful and I feel stupid. Properly stupid that I deserted the camp. If it had all gone tits up then at least, much like I did at the G20 demo when I left just before the police cordoned everyone in and beat a man to death, then at least I'd have some sort of knowledge that it might've been for the best. I constantly worry that we live in an age of CCTV and DNA samples, meaning that you are never off record books if they have you in their sight. Instead I now just reside in the fact I've never be a rebel. I've always harbored dreams of taking down 'The Man'. I've assumed it would just be a simple case of pushing him over or sticking a leg out as he walked past, but in actuality, I'm all mouth till I get there and realise 'The Man' is 6'8" and skilled in kung fu. At that point I just pretend I'm merely loitering and depart. I've never been a fan of trouble of any sorts, even if its entirely for the right reasons. At school I was only ever given a detention in the 3rd year (year 9 for you young un's) by my art teacher because I had never had a detention before and she was mean. Then I got a few later on for doing all my work but distracting other people by talking because I'd finished everything I'd done so quickly. Not entirely that much of a protagonist, more a super nerd pushed to mild disruption by being too bloody good two shoes in the first place. Sickening.
Now, with the current state of things, I really want to have my say in changing it. I am happy to do this via stand-up and by going on demonstrations, but as soon as it steps out of that realm of comfort I'm all a bit crap and it makes me sad. I look at my parents who went on several demos and tussled with the police on many occasion. I look at famous protests through history and how their desire to make a stand against the government meant they cared not about their own health and safety. Then I look at me, today, seeing two running policemen and taking a sharp about turn into Starbucks to have a skinny flat white like a total cock. So far it appears they are all still at the Vodafone store and it remains closed despite police intervention. I have the utmost respect for them and hope it makes the news and highlights the situation. I, in the meanwhile, will fully accept my position as head wuss and hope that I can do something with my own less active ways. Sigh.