EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun - © 1990 Chris Faiers
Chapter 2 - 144 Piccadilly Squat
144 Piccadilly was a huge, decaying stone building in the heart of the business district. Carefully we crossed the board planks laid across the moat-like no-man's land. Like crossing the drawbridge into a decrepit urban castle. We had only planned to visit but we were so immediately accepted as kindred spirits that we just hung in. In one of the huge rooms upstairs a "war council" was being held. Many of the leaders were French students from the 1968 demonstrations in Paris. We huddled in a corner and basked in the excitement and dusty funkiness of it all.
We ended up in a little room with a couple in a sleeping-bag trying to make uncomfortable love:
We stayed a day or so. Tiring of the diet of countercultural soup and the building paranoia of an impending police raid, we decided to try and get out. We weren't sure if we would be allowed to leave by the other squatters, and I was sure that if we were, I was going to be arrested on damning evidence taken by a police photographer. Incredible tension was in the air when we got downstars to the main hallway. Everyone was preparing for an all-out assault by the police. Angels and greasers were running round with balls and clubs and wrapping leather belts around their wrists. The biggest, meanest, ugliest renegade skinhead I had ever seen was standing guard by the front door with a great big club. Nobody tried to stop us, or even seemed to mind that we were leaving the impending battle scene. Perhaps they thought we would be beaten by the police anyway. We did. We crossed carefully back over the planks of no man's land towards the waiting line of blue. The worst was about to come - beaten silly on a London street, then beaten again at the police station, and finally five years in a cell. 'Just a couple of dossers', one of the cops sneered as we reached the end of the planks. Amazed we just kept walking. Freedom! We couldn't believe it. Later the police raided. We had walked out hours before the siege ended.
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