Camp Building

The next three days were similar in structure to one another, although the mood in ourselves, and around us, changed gradually until it was completely different on the Sunday than it had been the first day.

The day routine started with breakfast and a neighbourhood meeting almost at the same time. Then the camp would re-organise itself in working teams until lunch, and then whatever had been left unfinished in the morning, would continue to be done in the afternoon.

Food for some thousand people had to arrive on foot from the nearest roundabout, about half a mile away, because vehicles were no longer allowed down the local road that led to the camp.

D. and I helped with the construction of compost toilets, the installation of fire points with fire extinguishers made out of sand and soil, and the set up of a clear track in case emergency services vehicles needed to get into the camp.

The materials needed to build the necessary structures that had been confiscated by police had gradually arrived. Some had been returned by said force, others had to be re-purchased. My marker pens and our locks were never recovered. We heard about the most grotesque items the police had seized. They included children’s toys. People hid their frustration with jokes and laughs, and eventually some one walked around the camp with a video camera asking people to enumerate, in front of it, what the police had confiscated off them.

The public and corporate media were on site too. After giving them my permission, they filmed my hands as I was trying to build a grey water kitchen drainage system out of baths, straw bails and reclaimed wood.

The first bunch of the bike caravan that came from London found us in the middle of all this tasks and we found ourselves giving people information of where to find things like the toilets and the camping space. We had been at the camp for three days but we felt like we had lived at the site for the whole of our lives.

Then it was the time for me to leave. I was going to get on the train this time because I needed to be back in London on Monday morning. As I was coming out of the camp, the “second batch” of the caravan was arriving at the gate. There was also a queue of people who, like me, wanted to get out of the camp, and of course the police wanted to search every single person getting in and out of the camp, so we had to wait.

The people coming from London had been searched at the side of the road, like D. and I had been. Also like D. and I, they too had been given a pink piece of paper that they were now showing to the police officers at the gate of the camp. These, satisfied that they had already been searched, allowed newcomers into the camp without searching them a second time.

Some people stayed at the gate to see that we were allowed out after being searched. This time I was only carrying the minimum luggage that I would need for three days back in London and I was glad there was less to search in.

Once on the train, I realised I would have to borrow or buy some locks if I was to continue to use my bike as my normal mode of transport. Although part of me was prepared to leave my bicycle outside work without a lock for the pleasure of suing the police for the whole price of a new bike. It didn’t take me too long to realise that just borrowing a lock was a lot easier and more practical operation.

So, tired as I was, first thing when I got to London was not go home and have a pretty needed shower, but to bike to #35’s house and beg for a spare lock. Then on some of my lunch break, I would need to go and buy at least a cheap lock to keep going while the police give me back my locks.