The media, boosted by a contingent of Twitter users probably not seen before on the micro-blogging service, scrambled around in central London yesterday, taking pictures and filling the ether with conflicting reports.
As protests took over much of central London, I paid a visit to a travel agency caught in the middle of the so-called Climate Camp on Bishopsgate.
At about 11am yesterday morning, members of staff at the Wormwood Street branch of Flight Centre found themselves with a grandstand view of the climate change protest.
The camp was reasonably peaceful, with the usual samba bands, mobile kitchen (and loos!) quickly put in in place for what looked like being a long day.
Shop manager Stephen Ashcroft told me that they had only had “two or three” customers through the door during the day. Not a lot to do for a staff of four, you might say, but despite the exceptional circumstances it turned out that telephone call volumes were “normal”.
Understandably Ashcroft looked pretty nervous. In fact, the shop had had a visit from “security people” last week advising them what was going to happen.
Clearly the warning had an impact on the proprietors of a deli next door, which had decided to board up for the day.
While I chatted to Ashcroft, customers five and six of the day (after me) wandered in to the shop.
The staff looked tense as it was actually starting to get rather boisterous outside in the street.
But with a fantastic sense of timing and a certain degree of melodrama, one of the men said quietly: “Excuse me, can you tell me where the nearest Thomas Cook is, please?”
If nothing else, it broke the tension.
As I left I asked Ashcroft how worried he was about the shop.
“I’m actually more worried about tonight, when the alcohol has kicked in out there,” he replied, pointing to the protesters in the street.
However, some might wonder what is the difference between a group of what at the time seemed to be mostly hairy peaceniks and pubs full of drunken Square Mile suits on a Thursday or Friday evening?
‘Not much’ would be the answer on the evidence of yesterday afternoon at the Climate Camp.
Photos: Climate Camp outside Flight Centre
By Travolution editor Kevin May
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