the Disillusioned kid: Cold Cold Christmas
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cold Cold Christmas

Yesterday must have been one of the coldest days of the year. If not ever. So what better way to spend the evening than standing around in Parliament Square shaking a bucket full of small change? Of course, this wasn't all I was doing, I was also participating in a carol service, which may or may not have been illegal.

The dubious illegality of the service stems from the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) which prohibits unauthorised demonstrations "in vicinity of Parliament." This has generated considerable resistance, as many of you are no doubt aware: "mass lone demonstrations" were large numbers of people seek authorisation for ostensibly independent protests taking place at the same time; illegal picnics; Mark Thomas' record number of protests within one day; naming the dead ceremonies; and much more. The thinking behind the carol service was that as SOCPA doesn't define what constitutes a "demonstration," it is entirely possible that a carol service might very well be covered and that the police would look pretty stupid if they tried to arrest a bunch of carol singers. Last year's event,which I didn't attend, was such a success it was decided to repeat the exercise and, freed from the bondage of wage slavery this time around, I thought I'd toddle along.

I spent most of the day wandering around London sightseeing (read: getting lost) and took the opportunity to visit Santa's Ghetto, the gallery set-up by Banksy and friends, which very definitely gets the Dk Seal of Approval. I arrived at Parliament Square at around 6.30 in time for the latest mass lone demonstration, which ran the gamut of causes from calls for the decriminalisation of the Kurdistan Workers Party/Kongral-GEL, to criticisms of the Iraq war, via demands for improved working conditions for elves.

The Carol Service kicked off just after seven with our choirmaster leading on a saxophone. I was assigned the job of collecting donations for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children (we raised £85.93 and 75 euro-cents) and distributing song sheets. I carried these tasks out with the enthusiasm which friends will be familiar with and spent much of the service hidden away at the back of the crowd so that people wouldn't notice my near total inability to sing in tune. I also snapped a few photos (which you can find here) although the light conditions and my limited photographic skills colluded to render them not all that exciting. To the apparent disappointment of some, the carols were all traditional, with traditional, unaltered lyrics. We sang:
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away In A Manger
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Deck The Halls
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • The First Noel
  • Joy To The World
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
  • Amazing Grace
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Silent Night
Little Drummer Boy was skipped over, because of apparent difficulties with it last year. This was fine with me. It'd have been fine with me if we'd skipped over the whole list, but I mumbled my way through.

There was also a minute's silence and Tim Ireland presented veteran peace campaigner Brian Haw with a megaphone. This apparently occurred last year, but the new one had the benefit of being even more powerful. Brian also speechified briefly and closed the service by leading the Lord's Prayer (which I was surprised to discover I still know the words to). The police were nowhere to be soon throughout.

Apparently there were 43 people in attendance, most of them, it seems, bloggers. Tim of Bloggerheads organised the whole shebang and deserves a serious back-patting for doing so. Also there were Rachel, Davide, Rabbit Strike, D-Notice and Rigmor Haga. I'm told there was somebody from Indymedia, so no doubt they'll have a report (possibly with video footage) in a day or two. After the close of play, several of us retreated to the warmth of the pub. Putting faces to names was nice and there was much discussion of possible future protests (anybody got an ice cream they might be prepared to lend us?) and the politics of blogging (on which note, National Service sounds like it's going to rock).

Overall I think we can notch the carol service up as a success, albeit a small one. It's just a shame it was so cold. Perhaps next year we can hold it in the summer?


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