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Protest!

Picket Report 2001/aug/18 LONDON (UK), "What is Scientology"
18 Aug 2001
Dave Bird <dave@xemu.demon.co.uk>

Picket Report 2001/aug/18 LONDON (UK), "What is Scientology"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  /\\
                                                  .:;;;;;;' (  ))
                             Westminster        .;;;;;;;;'   \//
                                  ==0==         ;;;;;;;;;   wheel
                        -----------------------\_________/
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                            | |PSq| |Parliament|:::::::::
                            | |___| |           '::::::::.
                    Middx  /  ____               .::::::::'
                    Guild  | |**
                ____Hall__#| |*Westminster
       --      ::::QE2:::+| |*Abbey
                ::::ConfCt:| |**
                Westminster| |**
                CentralHall| Broad
                           | Sanctuary
                          / /
                         /VictoriaStreet
                          /
                        |/_victoria rail
                           (and==0==)sta.

I had problems with travel and arrived a bit late, damned if I could find the (first time) rendezvous. From Westminster underground, rather than east to Parliament and across Westminster bridge, you go west and across parliament square, a traffic island with grass and some statues -- you can see the giant millennium ferris wheel "the London Eye" across the river -- to the southwest corner leading into Broad Sanctuary. All the east side is Westminster abbey. On the west side are three large halls, and the conference centre owns all the cobbled forecourt and pavement right to the road: your choice for picketing is before, after, or across the road. I was all dressed up in my nice clean pale blue jeans and red check shirt, looking moderately tidy for a change.

I had wandered past central hall, and damned if I could see where we were supposed to meet. However the demo started on time and I followed the sound of the boombox across the forecourt to the northeast corner(#) where our lot had pitched up; the Jive Aces were inside the forecourt and up 2 metres of steps(+), about 10 or 15 metres south of us. Basically we were lined up north to south from martin P as main leafleter, me(Dave) as 2nd leafleter, Jens with the gas cylinder and balloons, John R on boombox... or rotating different people onto the boombox. Two more, Damian and Hartley, were across the road leafleting.

FIVE MINUTES AT THE ABBEY

Huge crowds of tourists, many in guided tour groups and speaking mainland European languages or Japanese, were doing five minutes at the abbey then five minutes at parliament then... They had zero interest in a "what is scientology" exhibition. Our people who went inside say it was practically empty. This area is near Whitehall and various ministries. The conference centre is a place where ministries do major presentations to industrialists or vice versa, and is priced accordingly. It was utterly useless to the clams. They were putting out a major amount of leaflets in the street -- mostly to tourists who would leave the country in a week and file it among their holiday souvenirs -- but the sales response rate on leafleting is low if other fields of selling are anything to go by.

The small number of people who were NOT tourists looking at the abbey passed on our side of the road. The Jive Aces played their hearts out, and the clams sent furious amounts of people to come out and handle us or counter leaflet -- maybe eight at any time, with some rotation? -- we had their entire attention. All their outside people were on us. They did not seem very happy. The Spanish twit from London Org seemed to think I wanted a gift of washing powder and would be photographed with it. A fat girl with a Scots accent asked for a couple of balloons then burst them: wow, that really put us in our place. I was feeling tired, but if they wanted to be nasty to us that increased my resolve to stick out the full 2 1/2 hours and not leave till they had.

FELLING SNAPPY.

The best bit was at the end. A tall skinhead type with cropped blond hair came over and started abusing alternately me, or Jens, or John, whoever came his way, shouting abuse inches from their faces. Eventually he wound up admitting his paedophile tendencies by accusing everyone else of it. The Spanish twit held a leaflet in front of our videocam, until I reached out for the leaflet and she withdrew it. Another shorter skinhead type with identical cropped blond hair turned up and started to drag him off. These, I gather, are JIVE ACES MUSICIANS. There was no way this was faked, the guy just lost all self control and TRs, and came over shouting abuse at people; gawd knows why, since we hadn't been specially tough on the band in particular. They must really by in a bad way if 3133t d00dz of the Sea Org like the Jive Aces loose control and embarrass the CofS in public. It makes me wonder whether there will be an exhibition, or even much of a cult, by next year. The cracks are definitely showing. The whole event so far has been a complete disaster for them, and we have not even been particularly tough or effective: they are falling apart as we stand by and watch.

So, three of us stood on the corner and watched until the band's white van drove away. Then we wandered off along Victoria Street and found a pub nearer Victoria to celebrate on the way back. All in all, we had a grand day out.

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               .'  '.       "OUR GRAND DAY OUT"
              :      :
              | _  _ |     cracking clams, grommit!
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