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Blackadder's Fifth Column

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"Baldrick," Ed Blackadder said, surveying the camp site before him, "I haven't seen so many unwashed people with postgraduate degrees since that knit-your-own-tofu party I unintentionally attended in Hackney last September."

"It does seem that way, sir," Baldrick replied.

The Occupy London site was small, but growing. Ed Blackadder had a salaried personal assistant; a job as a financial consultant for several major banks in the EC postcodes; and an eviction notice from his Clerkenwell flat (bloody squatters).

"First job is to find a pitch, as these sites are aptly called, and set up camp," he said. It was lightly drizzling, threatening to turn into a downpour.

"Correct me if I'm wrong," Baldrick said, "but I thought this is only a one-man tent."

"Correct you are, Baldrick," Blackadder said.

"Where am I going to sleep, sir?"

The downpour threatened, thrust and advanced.

"You can sleep in the gutter outside the church, Baldrick," Blackadder said decisively. "It can't hurt, although I don't imagine it will do the gutter any good."

The next morning Ed entered the large white information tent and picked up the day's schedule. "Tent City University lecture: Rosa Luxembourg's The Mass Strike," he read with disgust. "Multifaith tent: Guided meditation on conceptualising a free society. General assembly at 1pm and 7pm as usual."

"Anything I can help with?" A young blonde woman approached him, a terrifyingly benevolent smile on her face. "Hi, I'm Bobbie! I chair the trans subcommittee of the inclusiveness working group. If you're looking for something to help with, I know the quietness committee has been looking for more people?"

"Actually, I'm just looking for a power point for my tablet," Blackadder said. "I've got to do some quick work for the ban- the off-, er my blog," he hastily corrected himself.

Bobbie's eyes widened. "Oh, wicked," she said. "Are you a suit here to subvert the dominant paradigm? That is immense. Why don't you sign up for the finance committee?"

The finance committee sat in a yurt, and Blackadder looked longingly past the opening to the Paternoster Chop House. Paternoster Square was now blocked off and guarded by bored policemen in yellow jackets, but Blackadder fancied he could just smell the braised lamb shoulder and the house champagne.

"This committee here concludes," the facilitator read. She had a pierced lip and naturally curly hair. "That in a revolutionary act all donations to Occupy LSX and related activities will be transferred to the Swiss bank account of contributor Ed Blackadder, to be kept safe from the grasping Tory hands of the state." The committee members nodded approvingly.

A tall thin white man with an uncommitted goatee raised his hand. "Can we add something about Nick Clegg?"

"Like what?"

"Er, dunno. He's a fucking wanker?"

The committee members all waved their hands at shoulder level in support. The facilitator sighed. "The committee also recognises that Nick Clegg is a fucking wanker," she wrote at the end of the resolution.

"Anything else?" Nothing. "Motion to conclude." Again the committee members waved their hands.

Outside, Blackadder clutched the paper and looked for someone to cut him a cheque. He found himself back near the information tent, where he spotted his PA chatting with a samba band. "Ah, Baldrick!" he said, but before Blackadder could explain his new financial conquest, they were both nearly knocked over by a swarm of reporters, bloggers, well-wishers and Radiohead's Thom Yorke as a commanding figure appeared at the top of the steps of St Paul's Cathedral.

"Oooooh!" Bobbie said enthusiastically, rushing up beside Blackadder. "I can't believe he's here!"

"Give us a smile, Giles!" a hack from the Evening Standard called out, and the former canon chancellor of St Paul's obliged, striking a confident, masculine pose on the top step.

"Baby, are those bells calling me to noontide mass, or is that just my heart beating when I look at you?" he said, addressing a young Indy reporter. "Woof!"

"Reverend Giles Flashheart is the only one anyone's been talking about," Bobbie said reverentially. "You know he resigned on principle because he just couldn't bear to see the church taking violent action against social justice protesters. He's written three Comment is Free articles in the past week, and I've heard Newsnight Review is considering making him a regular. He's just amazing - exactly like Jesus, really. Ooh, ooh, he's coming this way!"

The Reverend Doctor Giles Flashheart was indeed making his way towards the information tent, where Bobbie hastily stepped behind the desk and made herself busy with the kitchen staff rota. But Flashheart had none of it. "Listen, doll," he said to Bobbie. "I've just had an invite from my old ex Katie Middleton to a big New Year's do up at Sandringham. Apparently she's knocked up and can't gag back the fizzy like she used to, and they need someone to help out on the champers front. Fancy coming with?"

"I'd love to," Bobbie said, "but who'll watch the information desk while I'm gone? The Guardian liveblogger is coming at 2pm and-"

"Oh, Baldrick can handle it," Flash said. "Can't you, Balders?"

"Indeed, sir," Baldrick said. "I've been preparing a manifesto for just this occasion." He cleared his throat.

"No time, Baldrick," Blackadder said as Flash and Bobbie disappeared in the back of a black cab towards King's Cross. "Now that the reverend doctor's gone I see the strong hand of the law is even now moving to give us a good swat."

And indeed a tranche of City of London police were closing in on the camp, batons and riot shields at the ready, Commissioner Melchett's warcry of "BAAAAAAH!" echoing through the square. Protesters clutched their phones and began tweeting frantically; Blackadder nearly tripped over a short journalist with a black sideswept crop, and caught a glimpse of "#solidarity" over her shoulder.

"Oh, for fuck's sake - we're in it now, Baldrick," he groaned. "And I haven't even got my cheque yet."

"Don't worry," Baldrick said, "A lady in the tea and sympathy tent told me there's a tunnel directly under the compost bin, left over from the Blitz."

"Why would - never mind, let's go." But there were officers blocking off the kitchen tent too, and as Blackadder and Baldrick darted for the door of St. Paul's, their last way out, a deacon hung a sign on the door and pulled it shut.

"Closed forever thanks to snotty little protestors," it read. "Hope you're happy having ruined a national treasure, now piss off."


"Look," Ed said patiently. "For the tenth time, I'm a banker. I'm a capitalist oppressor. I'm near the tippity-top of the 1% - I don't even have a contract, I live on a steady stream of bonuses, stock options and under-the-table kickbacks. Now will you let me out of this bloody kettle and let me go to the bloody pub?"