A blockage at the Elephant

Several things have already gone wrong with our journey by the time we surface at the Elephant & Castle looking for a bus. Unfortunately, the bus at the stop is decanting its entire cargo of bemused-looking passengers: a woman in an electric wheelchair has parked it right in front of two buses side by side, blocking the traffic back up to Kennington, in protest at not being allowed on a bus already jampacked with passengers and pushchairs.

‘You’re so selfish,’ they shout. ‘There’s thousands of disabled people in London,’ she shouts back, before plugging her headphones back in and remaining there, impervious, impassive. Someone tells her to fuck her mother, she tells them to fuck off. Someone suggests moving her. ‘Anyone touch me, and I’ll do you for assault,’ she shouts. Her face relaxes into an unhappy mask of defiance. ‘She’s an attention seeker, she’s done this before.’ A boy with a blingy bluetooth earpiece starts circling her. ‘If you’re going to assault me,’ he asks, ‘where’s your blade?’ shuffling his hands up and down in his pockets.

One of the buses backs up: she follows it, blocks it, and parks her wheel right back against the other one. It looks heavy, but it’s a nippy vehicle, a tight turner. Eventually, a bus comes along in the outside lane, the driver kicks some cones and barriers out of the way and establishes a third channel for buses and cars to sluggishly filter through.  We jump on a bus taking the third way. It’s only when we reach the New Kent Road that we hear the sound of sirens approaching, coppers to sort out another fucked-up Sunday in South London. It takes some balls to gridlock the Elephant. Who is she? Why is she so angry?

3 responses to “A blockage at the Elephant

  1. “Why is she so angry?”

    – She’s disabled and suffers discrimination…

    – …. and now Gordon Brown wants to take away her benefits to get her “back to work” …

    – and public transport is inadequate because the carmakers like it that way …

    – and it’s getting worse under corrupt incompetent clown Boris.

    And maybe she read this somewhere:

    “Disruption makes a point. People can walk way from a sit-down or demonstration, but disrupting the mechanism is much more effective at getting the attention of the people that have the real power. ”


  2. Hm. Objective oppression + propaganda = action… how very Bolshevist. I suggest rereading Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History.

  3. Benjamin’s Theses, which like most of his work combine banality and pretentiousness in a peculiarly offenisve manner, were a polemic against a view of history (allegedly that of the Second International, though in fact the Second International was far more complex) which had been dead for twenty years. Stalinism was not deterministic but voluntaristic; Benjamin had no critique of Stalinism, and never spoke a word against it. I’ve challenged Esther Leslie, one of the finest Benjamin scholars, to find me a single sentence in which Benjamin publicly denounceds Stalinism and she can’t do it.)
    No wonder Benjamin’s vacuous rhetoric had such an appeal for the addled brain of Andreas Baader.

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