By way of a pot boiler, I thought I'd describe the scenes in central London today. I was going to a No Sweat demo at the Disney store (but it was called off...). I went instead to sign up to the LSE library. Wikipedia tell us:
The main library of the LSE is the British Library of Political and Economic Science (BLPES). It is the home of the world's largest social and political sciences Library. Founded in 1896, it has been the national social science library of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and all its collections have been recognised for their outstanding national and international importance and awarded 'Designation' status by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).Basically, anyone can join this library. You just have to go along, fill in an online form and present proof of address, and you're in!
BLPES responds to around 6,500 visits from students and staff each day. In addition, it provides a specialist international research collection, serving over 12,000 registered external users each year.
I signed up but didn't have proof of address, so I went instead to the Waterstone's close by and browsed their second-hand department. I bought a few obscure titles which told me how people used to feel about the EU (or, as it has been severally known down the years, EC, EEC, Common Market, etc). (This is called 'original research', I'll have you know.) And I wrote down a great long list of slightly less obscure titles which I hope to read at the LSE library in the coming months.
Then I went to Downing Street to catch the tail-end of the rally against the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla (there, I've said it). I don't agree with all the politics on display on such demos (I am a two-stater, though more and more pessimistic that this is a possibility). But I still think it's important to go.
Then I was due to meet a friend in Parliament Square (appointment missed).
As you know, the weather was great today. I was hot and I plonked myself down in a corner of the square, just opposite the statue of Nelson Mandela and over the road from St Margaret's Church, which lives in the shadow of Westminster Abbey.
There was much to see. A steady stream of people stopping to take their photo with the Nelson Mandela statue, including, while I was there, two small, white boys in England football shirts, whose mum took a pic of them and their teddy with Nelson Mandela (once an international terrorist), and a very short, Russian guy who looked like he'd just come off his national service.
Behind me the assorted mavericks of the Democracy Village pow-wowed among their tents. They have a number of sideshows - including the 'Soldiers, come home alive' banner and the Tiananmen float - rather well made medieval type pennants, and the area is picturesquely scattered with straw.
Brian Haw is miffed at this lot turning up, muddying his message and jeopardising his protest. Or something like that. There's also a bloke shouting on a loudhailer with some placards blaming various deaths of named individuals on the freemasons.
If you were inclined to think this lot a messy rabble, you had only to look in the other direction at St Margaret's Church, where a society wedding was taking place (I take it they were society, as the guests were all quite tall and very well-dressed). The bride was of African heritage, and a band of drummers was there to mix their music with the peals of the bells. A crowd of tourists gathered around to take pictures, and became mingled with the guests, although you could still tell which was which.
At the far end of Westminster Abbey, motley crews of Morris dancers were displaying their skills, their grey hairs, and collecting money for an Alzheimer's charity. I got unncessarily excited about the women clog dancers' red, white and blue costumes, which I felt sure must have been inspired by French revolutionary costumes. But they said they picked the colours themselves a few years ago, it wasn't traditional, and didn't I know that red, white and blue were British colours too?
Someone decent looking tried to chat me up as I admired the statuary on the front of Westminster Abbey. This doesn't happen every day. I went and had an Oreo McFlurry from McDonald's to cool off (I don't recommend it). This is what happens when the sun shines.
P.S. OK, this post took me about 40 minutes to write. When I could have been reading Can We Save the Common Market? instead.