Forget Bob Geldoff, the man putting the pressure on the G8 countries is MP Paul Challen. Today I took part in what Mayer Hillman declared to me was “an historic marker for history”, as I massed with other cyclists to back Paul Challen as he led us defiantly past the massed ranks of the Security Forces to deliver individual letters in nice House of Commons DL5 window envelopes to each of the G8 countries’ London embassies.
We had massed initially at Grosvenor Square, infamous site of earlier struggles against the forces of evil and now looking even more sinister in the grey summer sunshine, fortified by the massive concrete-block barriers which we scaled like cockroaches, defying the snipers (or window-cleaners) watching from the top of the US Embassy. The crowd had been gathering since 10.30, and by 11 a.m, the scheduled start time, it had swelled to nearly 7.
After some discussion with a policeman, Paul found the little man behind a fence at the back of the US embassy who accepted his letter, and we swept on to the Canadian Embassy at the other end of the square (and not, as Paul had thought, at no.1. )
The fury of the heavily armed security forces is evident in this dramatic scene, where the heavily armed SAS-type protection officer forces Paul at gun-point to explain why we were photographing the embassy. And shouldn’t we be wearing cycle helmets. A heroic harangue by an un-deterred Mayer Hillman achieved the officer’s confession that climate change is more important than cowering under the batons, tear-gas and howitzers brought to bear on us throughout the event, but he had a job to do to protect the public.
The crowd dismounted at the Canadian embassy to force a path through the security forces’ blockade.
And so it went on, each embassy in turn was surrounded by our baying supporters massed in the road, stopping traffic and pedestrians and each in turn yielding to Paul and accepting the letter that will live forever on the blazing pages of history.
More dramatic images below
The protest weaves its way between embassies, urged on by the cheering masses.
Paul sprints past the tanks to reach the Japanese Embassy.
and then we arrive at the German Embassy. . .
to discover that the police had got ready with a deceptive ambush . . .
Police try to conceal their presence at the German Embassy
This turned out to be the back door, so we fooled them by going to the front!
Paul addresses the seething throng before proceeding to deliver his letter.
At this point, overcome with the tension and fatigue, I made my excuses and left to rush this crucial bulletin to our editor. The others pressed on regardless.