Sunday, October 23, 2005

Anarchy in the UK

An unoriginal title to describe what turned out to be a pretty unoriginal - if entertaining - evening. The annual Anarchist Bookfair got underway in Holloway over the weekend, and I was on hand to witness some first-class idiocy by a handful of its attendees.

The Coronet on Holloway Road is a smoky, cavernous north London boozer, converted from an old 1930s-style cinema. Except on Saturday night, the place was filled to bursting with sweaty, dyed-haired, multi-pierced, scarrified yoof from the Bookfair rather than the usual old men and Arsenal fans (although a few of them were there as well, looking on in amusement). Being a Wetherspoons pub there's a no-music policy in effect. So imagine the fun when a particularly pissed-up table of "anarchists" began to blast music from a portable CD player hooked up to a couple of humongous old-skool speakers. Long story short, the bar staff refused to serve anyone until the music was turned off, the idiots blasting it ingored pleas from other drinkers to switch it off until one bloke got so fed up he grabbed one of the speakers and hurled it into the crowd, the police were called in, the pub was shut down and everybody (well over 200 people) piled out onto the street outside, resulting in arrests, batons and stretchers.

And for what? Nothing to do with anarchy, that's for sure. Res Publica has a similar take on the evening, but unlike me he actually used to be involved in the anarchist movement, and offers some interesting insights here. For me, the real interest of the evening came once our group had made its way to another pub nearby. I've never been made to publicly announce my political ideology before, but that night, it was all, "So if you're not an anarchist, what are you?", "Whose side are you on?" and, hilariously, "Are you a Sinn Feiner?" Bloody hell, what is this, the McCarthy trials? With a few noteable exceptions, the impression I got was that many of these people hadn't had any social interaction with non-anarchists or communists in years, and that as a result, they just didn't know how to process my existence. Bizarre.


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