We headed off for the Org. A policeman metus coming round the corner "are you waiting for us" "yep". There were two police present throughout the whole picket (this was our first return to London after the time Roland got hit). They were deliciously unprepared: someone remained behind reception, but nobody came out for a fair while. The Jive Aces, of course, were still in L.A. Being well rested, no long jounrney, and no alcohol, I was absolutely bounding with energy. I started up "demo against $cientology, learn the secrets of Scientiology, learn how Lisa macpherson died at their world headquarters in Florida two years ago yesterday." I just kept calling out 70% of the time with no breaks at all.
There were two stars of this picket. One was Roland's LISA/NYTimes leaflet, of which we brought 300 inkjet ones plus 200 photocopies all distributed.
The other start was the sound system. Jens has truly excelled himself here. It is a small cupboard with a ghetto blaster in the bottom and four horns in the top. It now has an external booster, 2 X 15 Watts output into 8 Ohms, powered by a 6AH battery and with a charger for it. This goes through a crossover to kill frequencies below 180Hz into two parallel pairs of midrange reflex-horn speakers, 7.5 Watts per horn (they are rated up to 30W and even response down to 200Hz =G below midC). I tried it with tape, not as loud as I'd hoped on tape and it does kill bass -- it's specifically a midrange system for male speaking voice. Also a mike stand would have been nice for hands-free operation, so I could have used the minisynth bass line in memory and treble line live to accompany singing. All this can come later, and a wide variety of tape/CD material for it. For now I just held the mic well behind it and up from the plane of the horns and racked it up as far as I could without feedback. It was GRRRRRRREAT!!!! Megaphones are directional and megaphones distort. This is a 180dgr solid arc of sound with CRYSTAL CLARITY, and it cuts through like a knife against heavy passing traffic without being painful or gratingly loud.
So, down to business, the usual schpiels ("free personality test today, £1500 a course tomorrow....") belted out almost nonstop with the occasional 5 second pause for thought and breath. Roland's Lisa/NYT leaflet was great, I just read it out in about three sections, maybe 5 or 6 times throughout the demo. And the sound quality was such that people on the other side of a wide road were stopping and listening. The usual Org staff appeared -- Coco, Clamspore, the Piltdown Scotsman and an older black guy who looked like he was sucking a lemon. Also the short woman in black, who was in good voice, and a couple of new women canvassers I didn't recognise from before. There were clearly tears before bedtime; one of the new women was upset, perhaps by the details about Lisa, and led into the Org. Increasingly frantic phonecalls from the front desk were visible. Duke the Dog was in good form, in his natty yellow waterwings, and one of the policemen asked me what was the story on the dog.
I also launched into sone with XEMU LOVES ME THIS I KNOW. With the new set-up I can sing in a very soft and unforced way and, while my voice aint't marvellous, it's obvious better if it's unhurried and unstrained. Then a couple of verses of the ElRonRon. One of the cops said not to sing just to read text (spoilsport) and I didn't think it was worth arguing about. So, more schpiel, once more through the NYT leaflet. Then -- another experiment -- the XEMU RAP as a fast, rhythmic, un-pitched rap. Again with crystal clarity, people laughing at the punchlines of he packed their bodies in packing crates/and shipped 'em t'earth...in DC8s. Love that sound system: we're gonna have some fun with this!
The clams' preparedness was shite. There was a little Spanish "Petty Officer" from the Sea Org who solemnly "threatened" to send us all SP declares. So name went down for Donald Duck, Grady Ward, Ted Mayett etc to get their declares. I gave my real name--the Org know it anyway--and asked for mine to be sent c/o NCCL, framed if possible. This was solemnly promised. There were one or two Sea Ogres around, a small bossy woman with a captain's lanyard and a fat ass (I'm told the St Hill canteen has stopped serving decent meat meals and now it's all pasta with tomato sauce so....). They were piss poor: they didn't have a clue, and they certainly didn't come out to confront us.
Towards the end the woman in black was at the Org door shouting think for yourselves! think for yourselves!. Which I rapidly took up: yes, go ask the scientologists for a price list, ask them what you get for your money, ask about Xemu the space alien--- if they won't tell you, then we will. Of all the clams she was the only one who did anything effective to try countering us.
The police hinted the wouldn't mind a 15:30 start, and we weren't averse. One or two people had knocked off for a sit down, and we were almost out of leaflets. Back to our new pub, where Jacques Vollet followed us and had a long chat with Richard Woods (it's the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street). We were to say the least very plased with ourselves: it went like clockwork, smooth as honey. Let's hope for more like it.
And star of the picket definitely Jens, for the excellent sound system!!!
The petition was an excellent idea (not mine :-(); I was amazed at how many people wanted to sign and get an investigation into Scn an Dianetics.
I won't repeat the other posters' remarks, save to say being told that non-Scientologists "die early" was disturbing. But I don't think it was meant as a threat.
My fave memory was talking to two passers-by; then up came a Scn. I welcomed him into the conversation and then explained that, apart from poor Lisa, we felt Scn should be open about it's beliefs and prices; I then quoted OTIII and asked for the Scn's input. There was, alas, none.
I admired Roland; this was the first London demo since he was assaulted and that took some guts. Excellent Lisa leaflet, as well.
Meanwhile Sea Org spotters were rewarded by a sight of that elusive species. They were clearly not expecting the picket, so their presence in London implied the 'org' or possibly the London 'Celebrity Centre' was on the wrong end of some 'discipline'. One Sea-Orger gloried in a windcheater proclaiming him to be a "Petty Officer - Third Class", accused all and sundry of being "1.1", threatened early deaths to his opponents, laughed hysterically (claiming to be 'dramatising' our true thoughts) called us all 'squirrels' and then offered SP declares to anyone who wanted one. (I asked for one in the name of Ted Mayett). A more senior Sea Org female realised he was floundering and sent him back inside. She tried to exert her mighty will over us by ostentatiously yawning (in the hope that we would grow tired and go away?) but failed. She wanted to know who our "comms terminals" were in the U.S. specifically in Clearwater. "David Miscavige" was apparently not an acceptable answer.
Then she in turn retreated into the "org" where about a dozen clams milled around in terror of the mightiest of them all, a woman in a Sea Org uniform, festooned in chains or lanyards. (It could have been some kind of bondage gear, there are some very strange shops in Tottenham Court Road) However, despite repeated accusations about 'non-confront' she preferred to exert her super-human powers on those guaranteed to be affected, the Scientology minions inside, rather than come out and face the picketers. I would not like to be a non-uniformed clam in London tonight. It gets dark pretty early in London in December, so we headed for a rendezvous point, followed of course by our old adversary Jacques Vollet, who seemed saddened at the lack of preparedness shown by the 'org'. The picketers were all agreed that this had been a very successful picket, and we have very interesting plans for the future.
We converged on the org. The org staff were surprised. I was surprised that they were surprised since this was obviously a worldwide picket that they should have had advance warning about. They were totally unprepared.
We lined the pavement (sidewalk) on the same side of the street as the org, passing out leaflets. We had police presence. There was one officer in uniform who was later joined by another officer. No doubt the Secret Lives programme screened on channel 4 and the actions of Eugene Ingram had got through to the police that this was an occasion that warrented their presence. I was shouting Killed by Scientology? We remember Lisa McPherson and the policemen asked me not to say that since it was too emotive. I changed that to. This is a protest against Scientology - how did Lisa die? which he seemes quite happy with. The policeman stopped one of the scieno counter-protestors from handing out their flyers near us at one point.
The Lisa flyers went like hot cakes. I was not putting the flyers out in front of people. People came up and took the flyers. If they seemed interested then I gave them a Xemu and Pope as well.
Various org staff came out and talked to me. They seemed to be surprised that I was there. What was odd is that thrugh getting a refund that automatically makes me a declared SP. They are therefore not allowed to talk to me but they did. I explained why I left on discovering the OT III stuff. One of the women there was Alison, the C/S OT VII at last count. Here I heard the typical scieno lies. I expained that I had read OT III and did not believe that I was full of dead space alinens that were brought hee 75 million years ago in DC-8 space planes, stacked around volcanos and nuked, gathered up in electronic beams and then taken to cinemas. She smiled and asked me where I had got that information. I answered that I got it from the internet. She then said that there were a lot of bad people on the internet spreading lies and hate. She as trying to persuade me that I had gotten hold of false data and I should make the effort to get the true data. I showed her the start of the handwritten OT III on the back of the Xemu leaflet and asked her if she recognised it. She admitted that it looked familiar. That sort of killed the conversation and she went away.
I looked back at one point and saw a copy of the Freedom magazine had been ripped to pieces and thrown on the ground. There were none of our flyers on the deck.
The flyers were going fast. I had some spare ones in my bag but they soon went as others ran out. Response from the public was very good. They really wanted the flyers. They came up and took them out of our hands.
I had run out of Lisa flyers and was almost out of Xemus after 2 1/2 hours. I decided to call it a day. Dave was using the new sound equipment which was rather better quality than the bullhorn. He was reading out the Lisa flyer. A bit late I thought since most people were out of them. I went back to the pub where I saw the end of the England v All Blacks rugby game. I was rewarded by a 26 all draw.
The others turned up later and so did Jacques Vollet. Jacques spent his time talking to Richard Woods. It was a bit if a pity as that pub was one of our secret meeting locations. It also sells very good beer as do a few pubs around there is you know where to look. This pub (The Fitzroy Tavern) is a Sam Smith's pub which has excellent northern England brewed beer. The beers have a distinctive hoppy flavour and smoothness that does not change greatly between their different brews. It's an oddity that enhances the charm.
After savourings one or two of their beers I went home. It had been a very successful day.
That we were having an effect on the Scientologists was evident from the fact that they were more openly threatening to us than they have ever been. One of them told us repeatedly, "You'd be better off dead," with plenty of emphasis on the "dead".
We were each approached in turn by a tiny Seo Org'er with a Spanish accent. He was wearing a casual jacket in navy blue with a large Sea Org emblem; a style of dress which one of us dubbed "postal casual". He said again and again that we were "1.1" "PTS" and "SP", meaning basically that, because we are opposing Scientology, we are destructive scum and that society would be much improved if we could be "disposed of". These insults would terrify a deeply-involved Scientologist, but of course had no effect on us.
Our friend was more specific. He said, and I paraphrase very closely, I have your photograph, and I will do anything in my power to make sure that your future is a disappointing one. (No, I didn't have the tape recorder running, and I'm still banging my head for this stupid omission). When asked what was going to happen to us, he said (with obvious pleasure) that people who oppose Scientology usually get sick and die. He happily asserted both that our bleak future would be entirely our own fault, and that he himself would work very hard to bring it about, in some unspecified way. I thanked him for helping me to decide whether to buy life insurance.
He threatened to declare all of us, i.e. to give us official certification of our "Suppressive Person" status. Naturally, some of us were very pleased and enthusiastically gave names and e-mail addresses. Others responded with mock horror: Oh PLEEEEEEEASE don't declare me. NOOOO! You've ruined my whole DAY now. I asked him, You do realise, don't you, that under UK law SP declares are libellous? They are what? Oh, nothing. Don't worry about it.
My favourite moment of the picket came during this long conversation with the tiny Sea Org guy. I was telling him that Scientology should sort out its own problems rather than try to "sort out" its opponents. He laughed and started to walk away. I shouted non-confront! and a couple of others joined me to shout non-confront! Flunk! and, guess what, our friend came right back and carried on talking! Scientology promises to put its followers "at cause" over "Matter, Energy, Space and Time" and promises the ability to control others through "command intention", and yet if you know the right phrases and bark them in the right tone, you can make them do just what you want; and it's easier the more Scientology courses they've done.
Other high-ranking scientologists in fancy uniforms milled about inside and outside the org. On previous pickets, we've considered it a fair ratio if they send out two counter-protestors for each of us, but this time they did not even manage to equal our numbers. Two of the counter-protestors held up signs with the new advertising slogan; "Scientology: Think for Yourself". The irony is intense: Scientology is run as an extremely authoritarian organisation, where staff are expected to totally obey their superiors and Hubbard's writings. These two shouted a series of bizarre slogans: I don't see any puppets on this street. I see human beings! I invite you to think for yourself! Be free and think for yourself. Say 'No' to opinions. (No, I still can't work out that last one). Naturally these slogans were pretty much begging a response from us, and so we had:
Think for yourself!
...at extortionate prices!
Just say 'No' to opinions!
Just say 'No' to mindless sloganeering!
Dave's voice was coming across very clearly thanks to the PA system as he challenged the public to go into the org and ask for a price list, or ask a scientologist to explain about the space aliens called Marcabs. The frequent announcements that this was a protest against Scientology were helpful to us in overcoming the switched-off state in which many members of the public walk down this particular stretch of Tottenham Court Road.
For the duration of the picket, we had two police officers keeping an eye on the situation. Previous pickets have had less police presence, and the police have been less willing to step in to keep the two sides apart than they have been in the past. We were very grateful for this improved co-operation from the police.
Eventually we went to the pub and had a good chat and a drink. As always, a Scientologist followed us and some of us had a very long conversations with him, which I was not party to.
It was a very pleasing day out and, from the reports from other cities, it looks like the other elements of the world-wide picket have been similarly successful.
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