Sunday, September 21, 2008

The mother of all protests.

Not so long ago my sister, Tammi, was hit with the news that seven years of blood, sweat and tears, turning a pokey snooker club into ''one of London’s coolest bars'' (Time Out) would be met by the council’s decision to fill her underground rhapsody of Bohemia with cement.

Determined not to go down without a fight, Tammi and Colin, her partner in crime and management, set about inviting every Tom, Dick and Harry to a 2 hour protest on top of their club.

A protest? Oh god. I hate that sort of thing. Will there be a lot of naked hippies with their boobs around their ankles? Do I have to chain myself to a tree? Come on Kim, this is your sister we’re talking about, you will chain yourself to whatever she wants and you will not be cynical or disparaging. For once.

Well, I should have known better. I should have known there would be no chains, no hippies (well, a few) and no chanting.

Instead there was ska music, there was Earl Orkin, there was free booze and free hotdogs. There was a warmth in the crowd which I’ve come to expect from any crowd associated with Ginglik. It’s a rather special place, you see. Through their charm and welcoming nature, Tammi and Colin have provided west London with more than just a bar. Once people stumble upon it, they never go back to the Walkabout. It’s a gem of a place, thrown in amongst the one-pound shops, dirt and grime of Shepherd’s Bush and I’m proud to know the owners.

More than proud. When I’m talking to people there I can’t wait to crowbar into the conversation that I’m Tammi’s sister. 'Are you?' they exclaim, showering Tammi, via me, with compliments about the wonder of Ginglik. The power of their words is explosive.

What is Ginglik? People ask me, is it because Colin is ginger? Does Tammi lick him? Tempting as it is to let people think this, I explain that it means Explosive Power. Then I tell them I’m Tammi’s sister and perhaps they should buy me a drink.

As my wonderful and slightly tipsy brother, Jae, and I took over the free bar, handing out beer and hotdogs to all and sundry, a disheveled, toothless man in an inside-out jumper stumbled over to me.

‘Is this a free bar?’ he slurs.

‘Sure, beer or wine?’ I ask cheerfully. His eyes widen in amazement.

‘And free food?’ he says, literally salivating.


He turns around, waves his arms frantically then turns back to me.

‘Well I’ll have a beer then!’ he says, all his dreams coming true at once. Within seconds his entourage of fellow homeless hobo’s have arrived to pillage all they can. What a lucky day for them. There they were, picking apple cores off the dirty streets of Shepherd’s Bush (probably) and drinking 12p lager from Tesco, when the sound of live ska lured them to the green. A free bar, free food…. Tammi looks on, her temper brewing. She doesn’t want that kind of riffraff in here. It’s not like they care about Ginglik.

How about a written test, I suggest to Jae. If they know what Ginglik is, and ten other difficult questions, they can stay.

My idea falls flat and instead, long after the protest has finished and all the middle class people have descended to the night club to start paying for their drinks, the hobo’s are still milling around, toasting hot dog buns (all we had left) on the BBQ and filling them with ketchup.

Oh well. I’ve seen Trading Places. Maybe one of them is a secret millionaire and our generosity will be repayed when he buys Hammersmith and Fulham council and reissues the Ginglik lease. Because, in the greater scheme of things, that’s all that matters.

Gareth told me that if I got a good enough shot of the evening, he’d put it out to the papers. ‘Get high,’ he said, not suggesting I have a sneaky spliff with the hobos, but suggesting I climb a tree to get my good shot. I dutifully climbed. I was so overwhelmed by the warmth of the crowd, dancing, waving placards, cheering and smiling in the evening sunshine, that I was almost moved to crowd surf over the permeating love.

So now I like protests. I think I’ll start protesting more things. Anyone got any trees that need saving? Chain me up. But please supply free beer. Me and the hobos would expect nothing less.


Jae said...

Superb elucidation, I love your turn and wit.
And many tell me (though I wouldn't say it in these words 'cause you're my sister) that you're also very fit.
Oh look! A poem.
Well done for being clever, I suppose you think you are. Well you should. Jae xxx

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