" Hey I saw you on TV last week! " said one of my young friends in Finsbury Park.
For a couple of weeks I had to sit back from Abu Hamza's problems. I had problems of my own. My latest media infiltration had occurred, not from any effort of my own, but just simply because I, and those I lived with had got on with our neighbours. The hottest day of the year so far was being reported and as usual for this time of year as parliament broke for summer recess, silly season for TV news was declared sending researchers scouring the local papers for obscure stories. The Ham and High, and the CNJ had for the last year been reporting a Highgate squat, in an affluent area which had the enthusiastic support of its pensioner neighbours from day 1. Its number was finally up and this unlikely community was being broken up by Camden Councils Bailiffs. Errm... this was us.
I filmed some of the behind the scenes action. Christine Phillips from BBC London was the first to arrive. She was ace, she filmed a tea party we had with our pensioner neighbours, some of whom had made cakes. I was getting to really like BBC London and was developing a crush on Emily Matliss, the presenter. ITV London arrived on the day of the eviction. I was wary of letting them in until the cameraman looked out from behind his lens and said
" I know you, you were down with Captain Hook the other weekend! "
He was the last to leave, " There you go, the BBC didn't stick around to film this! " he said as he filmed bailiffs smashing our back windows, with us and our neighbours shouting " Vandals!"
They were all fantastic people. Our neighbors, the media, the police, all us had a great day together. Legally we were in the wrong but what did it look like on TV?
" We better not comment on that one. Lots of food for thought, we thought. " Said Alistair Stewart.
I obviously hated speech makers because I so much wanted to be one, but without sleep for 2 days, Christine had caught me on a massive sleep deprivation high, and I still like what I said in her interview. I gave her a big hug before she left. In this journey to find out whether the media was controlled I’ve met more great journalists than bad, and the worst crime I’ve seen the bad ones commit was to be up their own arses.
One of my neighbors had told me a few days before of a rumor on the estate that I was in league with Islamic terrorists. No doubt people had seen me bobbing about in the background on the TV news. The truth was I was trying to make my own news program, from one of the most magical free spaces in North London with Highgate cemetery at one end of the road, and Hampstead heath at the other, and a view from the roof which was higher than Parliament Hill. I though Camden council quite generous giving the place a year, it was a home to a great number of people. A year later, the building is still empty.
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