I had a meeting early yesterday morning at the Frontline Club in Paddington. As I was leaving, some NHS folk were outside the entrance to St Mary’s Hospital demonstrating and making a noise. I did not go up to them and chat – I just took a picture. The window in the top left corner is where Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. As I walked away, I wondered what Fleming would have thought of all the noise?
I headed off to have lunch with an old friend at a restaurant in Paternoster Square – just by St Paul’s. It was a good lunch – and surprisingly crowded (when I had been told that all the traders in Paternoster Square had nearly gone out of business). After lunch, I had a bit of time before my next appointment, so I decided to walk from St Paul’s down to Victoria.
I could only leave Paternoster Square by one exit – which was the one I came in on. Normally crowded with tourists and city folk, the square has been blockaded in by a squad of policemen and other less official-looking people who seem to be from the tented camp of the Occupy Movement.
I was surprised to see the tented camp still pitched around St Pauls. I wondered how long they will hang on out there (particularly now the weather is turning)? Still, give the Occupy St Paul’s encampment some credit, they were pretty well organised and all seemed quite peaceful.
As I walked down towards The Aldwich, the whole of Fleet Street had been blocked by police cars, police vans and trucks with large sandbags. It was a very strange atmosphere which I later realised was the end of the TUC march down the embankment.
A bit further on some folk were clearing barriers and a strange tent-like contraption came around the corner that posed for some TV cameras. The banner said “Occupy Everywhere” obscuring the sign for the Royal Courts of Justice. And it got me thinking.
With the world’s population recently increasing to over 7,000,000,000 people (or 7bn for short), in a strange way, we DO occupy everywhere already! That’s the problem! And we aren’t doing too well at organising ourselves to reduce the population size. And there are now so many people getting heated up about all the problems that the planet itself is heating up more than we anticipated a few years ago.
So what’s to be done? The politicians can’t seem to fix it. The international banks and muti-national companies can’t seem to fix it. The Occupy Movement doesn’t seem to be fixing it. Yet we continue with the old patterns of marching, demonstrating (for pensions that will never appear) – and thinking that someone else will fix it.
So whilst we surely do Occupy Everywhere already, we need better ways to occupy ourselves so we all feel a sense of purpose and usefulness – without having to rely on the consumer-centric values that have held the Western world together for the past 50 years.
Interesting times. Not sure anyone has the answer. But I am sure we will work it out somehow! After all, Fleming discovered Penicillin by going on holiday. The story goes that some tropical medicine folk were researching on the floor below and penicillin floated up to his labs whilst he was away. Strange things happen when you bring diverse ideas together and go on holiday. Can’t wait for the Christmas break!