London Bobbies Cool It

Ollie (left), Helen and John meet up at demonstration outside Moroccan Embassy in London

PC’s Ollie and Big John meet Kiwi visitor at latest demo in London

By Editor Alan Tristra

Just over 30 years ago Helen Tristram was arrested in London during a Greenham Common women’s demonstration against Cruise nuclear missiles.

Yesterday, just a few miles away in Kensington, she had a much more pleasant encounter with the Metropolitan Police.

As we walked out from our lodgings, we heard what sounded like a trumpet and shouting from a group of demonstrators behind railings opposite the Moroccan Embassy.

I thought Helen was in trouble again as the larger of the two PC’s on duty outside the Embassy called out to her as she stood in the road taking pics of the rally.

‘Would you like a photo with us?’

I explained quickly, fearing a confrontation, that my wife was not a troublemaker, she was just taking a quick photo.

However, PC ‘John’ said he’d called out because he wanted to ask Helen if she wanted a photo with them. And she did (see photo, above left).

John and Ollie explained that it was all getting a little boring after an hour or so listening to the Moroccan’s leader haranguing the crowd of 40 or 50 demonstrators.

Pension demonstrators opposite the Moroccan Embassy in Kensington, London

He explained they were protesting because they’d allegedly been cheated out of pension money 12 years ago.

From tragedy to normality

Noting the large bulge under the high-visit vest John was wearing, I asked if he was carrying a sub-machine gun, like other police we’d seen in London.

‘No. we’re unarmed,’ he said matter of factly.

Not bad considering the tragic events just five days earlier on Westminster Bridge and the entrance to the House of Commons.

In that savage attack, unarmed Policeman Keith Palmer was stabbed to death by a terrorist outside the House of Commons —  and four civilians were killed and many more terribly injured moments before when he drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

As my brother Hamish, a lawyer and a Londoner, put it, ‘the British still believe in policing by consent, you see.’

What about Helen ? Well, she’s got a different take on the London police now.

And doubtless PC’s Ollie and John are too young to recall the old days when seldom a month went by in London without some sort of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) demonstration.

Let bygones be bygones, I say…