we drove through the rusting old heart of industrial Sheffield to this strange shiny new place called meadowhall. a shopping centre. we were there with our weapons of mass information, the leaflets that would try and raise some awareness about some of the things that are going on, both in the world and in Sheffield at the moment, positive and negative. It was a day for dressing up. Some of us were in white decontamination suits one was dressed as a clown, the goons had made the effort too. affecting some lovely matching pale blue shirts, well ironed, they must have been so pleased to see us because they positively rushed towards us and embraced our group in a scrum. The days of the high street are gone. It is private property you do your shopping on these days. Or whatever the business of mass consumption is called. I wasnt dressed up and just slipped right through, and what a weird place i found myself in. I carried on up a mall handing out leaflets, i was met mainly by blank stares. one or two folk insulted me, most people refused to accept my leaflets, their concentration seemed fully focused on the trinkets that gleamed in the shop windows. I have often read that shopping malls are the new temples, and standing here now i find that to be totally true. these punters are drugged to the gills with the new religion. i'm loath to say it but i find myself not even wanting to part with the leaflets i have. bad form i know, but fuck it. I carry on anyway. I am staying in the Burngreave ashram at the moment, courtesy of Deacon Dave of the Sheffield Rhythms of Resistance. The ashram is one of those vital places, a a wholefood cafe and shop come meeting place, much loved by the community. There are plans to knock it down and build a supermarket on the land. How ironic is that? As ironic as the sign that says high street on the faux jerry built plasterboard walls of meadowhalls plaza. The days of the high street are gone. I am totally lost now, and bemused, and feeling out of place. I am conscious of the fact i could be letting the other guys down, they might think i am arrested, or maybe they have been arrested. I have not got anybodies phone numbers, so i hop on a bus back to town. I buy a Sheffield Star. On page seven they tell us about Sheffields proud history of protest, but the front page tells us with glee of the ring of steel they are constructing around the city centre. Ring of steel. There is a heritage joke in there somewhere.
back in the convergence centre things are taking shape. rooms have been set up for workshops, there is a cafe, and a medialab, ideas are being thrown about. I am asked if i would like to dress up as a Guantamano bay victim as part of the no protest/protest on Devonshire green. Sure. Fifteen minutes in an orange boiler suit kneeling in front of the press, my mouth gagged with gaffer tape and a bag in the hot sun over my head is pretty fucking torturous, yeah, imagine how the real victims felt. From Devonshire Green we walk down to the Winter Gardens, but they don't allow us to go any further, a token amount of 'protestors' have been allowed inside some kind of pen. Their token protest is drowned out, by the sound of a traditional brass band, the traditional sound of the traditional northern working man. All around them the police look forward to perpetrating some of their traditions. we are not allowed to protest so this a no protest protest. One thing is for sure though. The days of the high street are gone. And surveillance is all. They continue filming us whilst we film them and the media hover about for scraps. vultures. Sheffield Rhythms of Resistance arrive on time to boost morale and provide a decent soundtrack. The clowns are amazing and stir the imagination. It really fucks with the straight mind set, the antics of a man imitating the helicopter that hovers above. The police are expecting violent protest, and what do they get, positive tomfoolery. everyone around me picks up on the symbolism, but the cops just look bemused. They didn't teach this in the training manuals back at riot village! Anyway our clown army keep everything fresh and fluid and moving. The crowd goes up and down and everywhere the police are waiting. But of course. The ring of steel. In steel city. The days of the high street are gone but still the chant goes up, 'whose street, our street' and as a few batons crack, the welcome return of that old terrace chestnut 'Harry Roberts is our friend' anyway i'm not saying anything here that you cats don't already know, (unless you can't work out why 'harry roberts is our friend?) and there are lots of workshops going on here in the convergence centre so lets go check out a few of those fuckers, peace.