Scientology Crime Syndicate

03 Dec 2000

"I.S.Rennie" <LIP00ISR@sheffield.ac.uk>

This may not look like the average picket report, mainly because I've never written one before, and this is one of my first proper pickets.

First a bit of background:

I have a small confession to make. The first picket I went on (Manchester, April 4 1998), I attended because my sister was friends with the organiser, it was her birthday, and post-picket we were heading to her birthday party. This isn't to say I wasn't wholehearted about attending that picket, in fact I had a great time (especially after we turned the megaphone off and did some improvised 'street theatre' about A History Of Man) and I did care about the subject, but I was there with my sister and her friends. What I'm trying to say was that picketing yesterday was a big deal for me, especially as it was my 'debut' picket on lisa mcpherson's memorial.

Anyway, on with the show.


I live in Sheffield, as some of you probably know, or can probably surmise from my email address. For those who don't know UK geography, Sheffield is a medium size city in the North of England, not as far north as Manchester, but further north than Birmingham. It was a steel city (lots of foundries) but due to lovely Mrs Thatcher, it no longer has much of a steel industry. What it does have is a very good university, lots of good pubs, and a friendly atmosphere. Sheffield is about 4 and a half hours north of London. The picket was due to kick off at about 12:00. I have nary even the slightest clue of London geography. Therefore I made the at-the-time sensible decision to get the overnight coach to London. 'after all' I thought, 'I can sleep on the coach on the way down'. Bzzt! First wrong answer. It is almost impossible to sleep in a seat built in such a way that your legs are wedged against the seat in front.

4 and a half hours (and 20 minutes' sleep) later, I pulled into London. It was 6:00 in the morning. I was tired. my neck and back ached. I quickly perked up, however, when I spotted one of the single oddest devices I have seen in my life. A payphone with a keyboard so you could email from it at a price of 20p per email. With the calming thought that technology is even odder than I thought it was, and an inexpensive cup of probably the best coffee I've had in my life, the Yorkshire Boy prepared to hit the Big Smoke.


four hours later, I had wandered the streets, bought yet more coffee, browsed Tower Records, and generally killed as much time as I practically could. I headed for Tottenham Court Road. For those of you who do not know the area, TCR is a long commercial road, lots of electronics shops, a few classy cafes, a nice road, but one with high-rent and low-rent areas. The COS is slap bang in the low-rent area. The storefront didn't look too well cared for (a hastily laser printed sign in the window reminded all ald sundry that the Co$ is officially part for the C.O.S.R.E.C.I, although it neglects to mention that this is because South Australia is the only place it could register as a religion that would also let it operate as one in the UK). On one side there is a fairly nice cafe, with a genuine 'help wanted' sign in the window, to contrast with the fake notice in the window os the COS asking for the same thing. On the other side there is what refers to itself as a 'casino'. Actually a lot of slot machines and video games. At about 11:45, I met up with my fellow suppressives in a cozy watering hole and mentally prepared for a days Nturbul8tion.

the cast for our dramatic comedy were as follows:


Myself (wearing a 'xenu world order' Tshirt)
The inimitable Dave Bird.
Hartley Patterson, who provided the picket signs & most of the leaflets
John R
Steve C


Smiling man (a sap in a suit who was grinning at the world. I suspect he was on nitrous oxide. Or he had his pager set to vibrate) Grumpy woman (handing out Freedom magazine, seemed pissed off that we existed) sandy-haired guy (the same guy who walked into a door when Barb was visiting) other grumpy woman (younger than the first, came out later) plus full supporting cast of londoners who already knew the Church were a bad lot, dogs in water wings, loudspeakers, etc

We kicked things off at about 1:00 with a few jolly carols. Within 20 or so minutes, the opposition faced us. Smiling man and Grumpy Woman, in a kind of good cop, bad cop routine.

passerby response was split 3 ways:

* the people who didn't stop, they seemed either busy or they just didn't want to know about anything to do with the Church. Many people had leaflets thrust in their face by Smiling Man (who reminded me of Mike Flex from KYTV if any UK comedy fans get the reference), and lots of these were binned, or just dropped. I didn't see a single anti-cos leaflet on the floor.

* the people who had already heard about the cult. There seemed to be quite a few of these. More than ten people actually thanked me for 'doing something about them'. One guy even wanted to give us money. We just told him not to give it to the cult and we'd be happy. Probably about 1/3 of the people walking past had already heard of the Church, and not in a good way. Lots of people stopped just to talk. I don't think a single person was hostile to us.

* the people who hadn't heard about the Church but wanted to know what we were doing. Almost all of this group seemed interested, both in what the cult were up to, and why we were protesting them. They seemed glad that we were informing people of the dangers of the Church.

people seemed fairly amenable, even eager, to get leaflets. So much so that we ran out. After heading off to get some more from a local print shop, I ran into a slight problem. The photocopier seemed to be infected with Copy Thetans, and there were 6 paper jams in the space of about a minute. Finally, I got the copies done, paid the guy in the copier place an extra couple of quid for the inconvenienced and headed back.

This load of leaflets ran out at about 3:30 and we headed back to the local hostelry and raised a few. It had been a good and worthwhile day. Passerby response was fairly positive, lots and lots of people had already heard of the Church, few if any had good things to say about it. The day was, if I say so myself, a resounding success. I look forward to the next one.


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