Not protesting, not a chance.

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"Excuse me, what were you protesting for?", approached a summer frocked lady from behind her sun glasses. "Nothing" – I was a little less detailed in my reply than my fellow law abiding citizen who had seemingly rehearsed for this delayed public response. "We were not protesting, to do that would be illegal", he gently informed her in his warm and unabashed northern manner, "it is illegal to protest within 1km of Parliament without prior police permission". "So what is written on your placards?", she asked with her hands, leaning in and reaching for the sheets of cards resting by our sides, "nothing!", came our choral response. Somewhat perplexed, or even disappointed, she moved on half informing us, "I'm going to that Brian guy, he's been arrested!".

In fear of losing balance between words and actions I found myself on the Strand, London debating what kind of investment I would make into A1 white card to both use and not used for around one hour. We wanted something sturdy, of which foam-board did the trick, but wow is that stuff expensive, "Is it cheeky if we bring them back after for a refund", I asked semi-seriously. The less offensively priced heavy-weight paper however didn't seem like too much of a compromise considering it would still make us only half equipped. With ten minutes to go we were finally armed, we'd settled on a combination of foam-board with heavy weight card, catering for only one extra person yet with the option of halving the papers if we hit critical mass.

Big Ben brought its hands up to two O'Clock as we rested ours down at half-six following our one hour battle with gravity. Like Moses this battle with gravity came with the help of my family whereby my sister brought our numbers up to three, not including the friends' reunion – two additional friends who were not, not protesting beside us on the grass. Like the protest, the response wasn't, we'd gotten a thumbs up and wink from the Brian camp, saw some police officers altering the height of the seats on their bikes yet generally we were something for lunchers to direct their eyes at during a break. "This is not something to be disheartened about", I repeated to my fellow law abiding citizen, thinking back to one of the first comments I'd left on his blog about avoiding tactical voting, "low numbers should not be a reason to not do something".

It's a technicality, he isn't starting a protest, he'd started years ago and hasn't stopped

Brian may have been arrested in the past, but for his personal battle (concerning a great many things wrong in a decreasingly great Britain) he will not be arrested for the laws concerning Parliament's no-protest zone. It's a technicality, he isn't starting a protest, he'd started years ago and hasn't stopped. Brian's a kooky chap, his face has been in the kiln too long which has also resulted in the heavily badged soldier's helmet being glazed to his head. He looks like a guy you avoid in train stations and lives like him too but I prefer to consider him a landmark, one casting a shadow over Parliament or even Big Ben.

"Shall we get him to sign them or write something on them", I embarrassingly voiced out as we waited to speak with Brian, I thought it'd a poignant use of the blank white sheets yet worried it might offend the man. Brian made his way round the usual topics to a small and partly participatory crowd: depleted uranium, starving children, civilian deaths and a lot of Blair. I glanced around his growing territory, a titillating mix of images and slogans, all of which careful to not infringe council by-laws. Four camo-green tents had been added since my last visit and were leaving squared patches of malnourished grass in their rotation.

"Gordon's gay and he should admit it to the people, more lies from New Labour", parped a tubby chap with Brian non-plussed. "...murdering the children, those poor innocent children - those are our children...", Brian looped, "...that fucking Blair...", he continued as the tall gentleman to my side paused from his ice cream and politely asked that he didn't use that language in front of his children, referring to the young boy and girl weaving between our legs. "I will use language like that...", Brian firmly retorted leading the tall guy to almost square-up to Brian, "listen, we're all doing our bit", he begun. Again Brian retorted, "but we're not doing our bit our we...", to which the tall guy enlightened us of his charity work in setting schools up in India. A stalemate was met in an unnecessary stand-off, Brian was brash – I wouldn't be so bold – but I feel he can afford to be.

I toiled over that heated moment, over those who are, "doing their bit", and Brian sets an admirable standard in method. I came as a tourist – meeting words and actions (not to mention friends) in the presence of Brian made me feel more so, but I came to do something and like my voting green, I don't believe it was a waste.

An Email sent out prior to the day:

> Forgive the generic,
> I'm linked to some group regarding citizen's rights and
> got this email (below). I've seen one of these before on
> some website, people standing in silence holding blank
> placard, it's weird. As I'll be in the neighborhood I
> thought I'd check it out, anyone else fancy some
> pre-Sunday lunch dissent?
> For some background, read:
> Blair laid bare: the article that may get you arrested
> Britain's liberties: The great debate
> Look forward to seeing you all.
> ddmmyyyy
> ----- Original Message Follows -----
> From: Andrew Nominus
> To: ddmmyyyy[at]yahoo.co.uk
> Subject: Not a protest, not a chance
> Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 08:54:10 +0000 (GMT)
> >The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005) makes unauthorized protests illegal within 1km of Parliament Square.
> >Do not protest.
> >Do not protest in Parliament Square on 1pm Sunday 20th May.
> >Do not carry a blank, white placard with nothing on it.
> >Remain silent.
> >
> >Pass it on.

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