We realise that the anti-capitalist mayday celebrations, much as they have been the most exciting for years, have been dogged by an over bearing police presence and a lack of gentlemanly attire. The media have done an excellent job of whipping the public into a frenzy, with stories of anarchists armed with padding looking to wreak havoc upon London.
This years event was billed as a much more low key affair (a picnic infact), for several reasons there would be no main anarchist / anti-capitalist event. We were sure the police, media and public would have been heart broken to hear that no hoards of troublesome protestors would be taking to the streets (the police most of all as they bill this overtime into their holiday bonus!). So we decided to satire the whole situation a little. Hence NOT CRICKET our gentlemanly protest group launched:
Meeting up in "the bat and ball (a cricket theme pub) our Mayday cricket team was set to take on the might of Capitalism. Waiting outside for us was a Police F.I.T unit (Forward Intelligence Team) who were photographing everyone entering the pub dressed in cricket whites. Shortly before I arrived apparently a couple of officers had entered the pub and told the assembled cricketers that they had intelligence on us and that we would be followed for the whole day.
As more and more well dressed ladies (Gemma & Shalini) and gentlemen arrived our pipe smoking, groomed mob prepared to attack the capitalist menace. Unfortunately just before setting off another couple of officers entered the pub and informed us that they realised that we were not going to smash the place up and that they were leaving to find some more troublesome types! And there we were thinking we were about to get some of our hard earned tax back in the form of a Police escort for the day.
Not to be put off by the loss of our escort we immediately went to work on earning them back. Just across the square from our meeting pub stands Londons largest Starbucks, a community wrecking, un-fair trading and labour shafting Capitalist beast if ever there was one. Our team donned our pads and marched at the double, with our press friends scurrying along behind, straight into the beasts lair. The team let out a roar of "Its Just Not Cricket" before one of our number let out a tirade of a speech to everyone inside. Another chant was let our from our padded and batted mass before we marched across the square to face up to the mother of junk food stores, McDonalds.
McDonalds, obviously used to Mayday protests had deployed a security guard on the front door who blocked the door and barred our entry. Infact he told us that cricket players are banned from all McDonalds! About to move on, one of our number led us to a side entrance into the store that he had discovered on a previous mischievous mission. Quick smart our party entered the store only to be jumped upon by more security. A commotion of smartly dressed ladies and gentlemen and security then ensued with Anti-McDonalds chants being boisterously thrown around the tacky walls. Eventually we were all bundled out of the store.
Time for a spot of cricket. Tennis balls were broken out, and on our way down to meet the Mayday march, a roving game of cricket was played in the streets. A couple of tennis balls less and a few streets later we arrived at Trafalgar Square. Our team stopped to pick up our mascot, a delightful scantily clad mermaid campaigning against climate change! We were again stopped by the Police who asked what we were up to. We informed them that we were off to play a game of cricket in St James Park and happily we were waved on.
We were then happily followed by another couple of officers all the way to the park (yes our tail was back). Finding a suitable pitch in the park we began to set up our stumps and pavillion. When who should turn up than my mum, in cricket pads to boot!
The next surprise visitors however were not quite as welcome, the Royal Parks Police! Who dutifully informed us that ball games and tents were not allowed in the Queens garden. Apparently there was a very clear notice on the door? into the park, not having entered via the front door however, we had apparently not noticed the sign. A lively debate then started where we offered to play the Police for the pitch (they declined), we then offered to go and knock for the Queen at the palace down the road and ask her permission (apparently she was at Windsor). Next we offered to phone a gardener someone knew who worked at Windsor and get them to ask her (they politely threatened us with arrest). Eventually we settled for playing cricket with an invisible ball.
A few minutes later the Police grew tired of our surrealist match and drove their 4x4 away. Questioning which does more harm to the grass, a cricket ball or a 4x4 we decided to play with a ball again.
Several bottles of Pimms were opened, some cake arrived and our match was underway. We had offered to take on the assembled press photographers, who by this time amounted to nearly a full team, but once again our challenge was declined.
A spiffing match was now underway with people taking turns to bat, bowl, field or drink Pimms. No score was kept, and no umpires were allowed anywhere near the game. It was anarchist cricket after all. The Mayday picnic was in full swing next to us and a fine afternoon was had by all.
Later in the afternoon three riot vans turned up alongside our pitch, they were once again challenged, this time we offered next years protest as the stake. They once again declined, even with full padding and bats of their own in the van. I think we therefore won by default and the police have forfeit their right to turn up next year!
One highlight of the afternoon was a mobile tricycle sound system turning up with the BBC cricket theme booming from the speakers. After which they entertained us all with a mix of punk and ska anthems.
As the sun began to set and our weary limbs grew weak from the game, we decided it was time to hit the pub. Packing up our pitch we all decided to make cricket a much more prominent part of our Space Hijacking activities.
Several hours and lots and lots of pints later our cricket team was back in play, this time in the streets of central London. With stumps courtesy of trees or walls we played and drank through the night.
Hoorah for Cricket, Hoorah for Anarchist
Boo to Capitalism, Boo to the Queen and her silly By-laws!