Monday, 28 March 2011
My role in the Fortnum & Mason fracas
[Apologies but some technical difficulties mean that when I publish this post it is not recognising paragraph breaks. If anyone can offer some technical help to solve this crisis I will a) be entirely grateful b) laud it as a victory for Bogg Society (as suggested by @MrDaveConroy)] I only popped into Fortnum & Masons on Saturday to get some fancy couscous and croissants for my Boat Race picnic. But I was so shocked by the prices that I exclaimed loudly "I am not paying £48 for 15 ounces of a North African semolina wheat grain product, the robbing bastards" and next thing I knew thousands of people protesting about the cuts piled in and occupied the store in solidarity. This may have had something to do with the use of umbrellas in organising the protest but it was nothing to with me. What I did learn was that contrary to popular belief Fortnum & Mason is NOT a posh grocer for the privileged that symbolises the deep divide in our society, but a charity. They give away literally millions of tweed umbrellas every year to protect the dampest in society. Yes really. Although this interpretation may not be true and has simply been over quail's egged by those who seek to undermine the right to protest. I got so caught up in the whole protest vibe that the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. It may seem crackers but I always felt it inevitable that the TUC march would target the Ritz. And then it all kicked off in Trafalgar Square. How sad that place named after a stupid battle between two sides that couldn't agree should have ended up as a stupid battle between two sides that couldn't agree. It was unfortunate that the protest degenerated into violence and many commentators seemed delighted by this while at the same time condemning it. To be so smugly pleased that there were ructions to prove a point is almost as bad as perpetrating the violence. And the media seemed to be almost willing violence so as to make good TV. There were reports that Sky News were offering protesters £25 to throw the Spectator journalist and activist Laurie Penny at a policeman. Penny is a brave and fearless campaigner who gets attacked by a policeman every 4 minutes on average. She just seems to attract trouble - maybe she is the one secretly causing it - the proverbial bad Penny. After doing their best to have a bloody good riot to film, the media then gave a disproportionate focus to the minority that wrongly cause the trouble even though people getting arrested in city centres every Saturday night after a few beers never get mentioned. Still, the UK was shamed by events and there were many people injured by the hyperbole and bollocks spoken in the media about what was really happening. While the Royal Family were strangely absent (Camilla apparently said there were more unwashed oiks than you could poke a stick at - though you wait until April 29th) you couldn't move for tripping over the relatives of 1970s progressive rock stars getting into trouble, looking for their own bit of Charlie Gilmour action. Keith Emerson's niece was arrested for stealing a vat of goose liver pate from Fortnum & Mason while the second cousin of the drummer from Tangerine Dream was spotted mounting Nelson's column and then denying she knew what it was there for. At least there was international support for the protesters. Gampddafi called for the UK government to stand down after seeing protests in our country's capital on the TV and he then launched air strikes to help liberate the protesters from their oppressors. All of this meant I didn't get to the Boat Race, which was a shame. I love the Boat Race. It is my favourite meaningless sporting event named after the Cockney rhyming slang expression for the face. This year's once again saw Oxford, naturally, and Cambridge in the final. And the winner was Oxford, naturally, though they were helped by the fact that the Cambridge cox got lost because she was holding her map upside down. I could finish with a lame satirical stereotypical comment about the juxtaposition of upper class toffs rowing down a river while plebs were rowing about cuts. But I won't.