Thursday, 15 December 2011

Occupying nuisances

A visit to the Occupy London camp at St Paul’s, London

On Monday, I visited the Occupy London group that are currently encamped at St Paul’s Cathedral expecting to find a gaggle of unhinged lunatics and they did not disappoint.

Some of the tents of the Occupy London movement at St Paul's

The camping oddjobs, who call themselves “hibernating socialists,” claim their occupation is driven by a desire of:

“Reclaiming space in the face of the financial system and using it to voice ideas for how we can work towards a better future.”

A tent bearing statements of "Hell No, We Won't Go" and "Power to The People"

Instead, I’d argue, what I found was a smelly encampment that included a man who told me that the police were “setting him up.” He went on to show a photo board he’d produced naming them and giving their addresses. When I told him that his suggestion seemed a little far-fetched, he went into a rant.

The yoghurt pot wielding PROUT proponent

Another, holding a yoghurt pot, regaled an assembled group with talk of something called PROUT. He looked like he needed a wash and appeared to be telling those who bothered to listen about some kind of odd socio-economic paradigm.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, a supporter of a “Robin Hood” style tax on the rich, recently commented that if Jesus were alive, he would spend Christmas with the Occupy movement:

“WWJD? He’d first of all be there: sharing the risks, not just taking sides but steadily changing the entire atmosphere by the questions he asks of everybody involved, rich and poor, capitalist and protester and cleric.”

Tricia Walsh-Smith visits the Occupy London movement

Visitors to the camp have included the rather eccentric internet “personality” Tricia Walsh-Smith. She lay down in front of the tents and even sang them a song named “Tell it like it is.” Another person who had to negotiate their way through them was my friend Aita Ighodaro’s sister, Natasha, whose wedding at St Paul’s went ahead despite the messy protesters. In true British spirit, she entered the building through a side door and didn’t let the noisy unwashed ruin the ceremony.

Natasha Ighodaro and her husband Nick Cunningham leaving St Paul's

“People are determined to stay,” another of the camp stated this morning on Occupy London’s video stream. I, though, think enough is enough. This lot have had their say and now it’s time they moved on.

Watch a video of Tricia Walsh-Smith’s visit to Occupy London at:

Find out more about Occupy London at:


Anonymous said...

Send in the water canons!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What dirty dogs.

Anonymous said...

Smelly buggers. Send them some soap.

Sally said...

Tricia looks like she needs a bath too. Mind you, she is BONKERS. I pity them for having her pester them.

Anthony said...

I have to say I was a little disappointed by this post. I normally enjoy reading your posts as they are well researched, interesting and illuminating, on whatever topic they are on. You clearly have an opinion on the matter which is good, but this feels like you have not attempted to challenge or investigate your opinion with any real effort or sincerity, which would create more interesting reading. I guess you don't have to - it's your blog! I think I just felt let down as  I thought it would be an interesting counterpoint but instead found like someone said, the usual Clarkson, complete with fixation on smelliness, which seems a little childish.

I have no real opinion on the protesters, I'm glad that I live in a state which allows then to peacefully protest and voice their views there, but I am not sure how helpful what they are doing is.

Anyway sorry to moan, much love and respect and perhaps I will bump into you in a bar again sometime soon!

Simon said...

Steeples, my friend - you are waaaaay off the mark here. If you are going to judge an argument based on how well the presenter is dressed, and the perfume they use, then we might as well just hand over politics and the economy to Marc Jacobs and DKNY.

At the heart of the Occupy movement is a recognition that the current economic system is designed in such a way as to ensure that there will always be unemployment, growth is the KPI for success and that the majority are effectively enslaved by an economic system that denies you any democratic rights to opt out of the system.

There are other economic systems that we could explore. And there are many who believe that to be a debate that needs to be had. However, the politicians, businesses (including media) and banks are the ones who will benefit the least and they are the ones who own the frame of the debate.

The Occupy movement, along with culture hacking and other alternative forms of protest and dissent, refuse to engage in the debate on the terms defined by the existing status quo. Why? Because that merely reinforces and justifies it.

Check out:

These alternative forms of protest are in such stark contrast to the conformity of the establishment, that they provoke equally bizarre responses from those who represent the status quo - including our police force, clergy, media, politicians, and the privileged. But really, why is someone who wears jeans and a t-shirt any less credible than someone who wears a pseudo-hunting costume from a previous era (the suit) with a penis symbol wrapped round their neck?

In terms of taking up public space - this is at the heart of the problem we face. The current system effectively provides security to protect the narrow interests of the corporates and wealthy on the basis that this is in the interest of the majority. This is now being questioned as an inversion of a democratic system. Check out:

Yes - the arguments do become a little bit alice in wonderland. But no more so than the, quite frankly, bizarre argument set forward by those who support the status quo.

The Occupy movement does not pretend to have answers, and therefore does not stand 'for' anything. It is instead, trying to provoke conversation and discourse so that we are better able to create a society that is fit for purpose.

Personally, I welcome the diversity of voices in the debate, including (and especially) yours. Please join in and engage with the substance of the conversation rather than dismissing those voices as lunatic and unwashed and obsessing with the superficial nature of fashion/clothing conformity.

Jeanette O. said...

Are they still there?

Matthew Steeples said...

They do need a bath. The whole place does smell. How could you argue otherwise?

Matthew Steeples said...

Sadly the exchange rate was not favourable and the brand is now focusing on other markets. A great pity as it was a great product for a reasonable price.

Hope all is well otherwise and I'll be sure to follow your column.

All the very best


david said...

passed by an 'occupy everywhere' group yesterday who simply seem to be using a convenient slogan for having an endless party funded by state paid benefits. These are people who simply want something for nothing and if any of them were to actually be offered a job, asked to put on a uniform, be nice to customers and 'tolerate' having a boss and annual performance appraisals, they would undoubtedly stick two fingers up at the offer.

They complain of taxpayer bailout for banks without having ever paid taxes. Presumably they are concerned it might eat in to their benefits.

Representation without taxation it seems.

One thing for sure, they do not represent the 99% who work hard everyday to make a living for themselves and their families.

Tricia Walsh Smith said...

I remember meeting you. Done with the vodka?

Matthew Steeples said...

Glad you liked it. You may recall we met when a company I was involved in, Vodka O, sponsored your party at Amika.

"Eccentric" - I am often described as such myself and think it is a perfectly good thing to be called.

You are quite right in your comments about the mockery these people have made. I found them ridiculous in the extreme and their reaction here proves them for the oddjobs that they are.

Keep "Telling them like it is"!

Tricia Walsh Smith said...

Love your blog dashlink! I may be eccentric but the "Occupy" movement should have made a difference -- we have serious problems with companies etc registered outside UK and not paying British taxes etc and dishonest politicians, but the St. Pauls crowd have made a mockery of the situation.

Matthew Steeples said...


merlin said...

Do you have anything original to say, or are your opinions entirely informed by Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Littlejohn?
I suppose you'd have told Gandhi that he'd made his point now bugger off and have a wash.
By the way they did use your beloved water cannons on Martin Luther King and the civil rights protesters.

Peterpiper said...

The fuckers have moved!

Kchapman said...

Looking at Tricia's video it seems there's nobody there. Just tents. Where are they all? How can they call it "occupy" when the tents are all "vacant"?

Henry said...

Burn their tents. They'll soon flee.

Hattieharman said...

A good bar of soap is in the mail to them.

PippaPipPip said...

Vile beings.