Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Tuesday 1 November 2011

Jesus wept.

PROTEST can be a great thing. Suffragettes, Gandhi, Tahrir Square - without the right to protest our world would be a poorer, meaner and more unreasonable place.

But the #Occupy movement... well, they're doing it wrong. That bankers are motivated by money and need to be restrained from raping the planet in their quest for a buck is obvious, but I fail to see how sitting outside St Paul's cathedral until they make the Christians angry is going to achieve it. Maybe the bankers will be laughing so hard they'll be in a better mood on the trading floor?

The manifesto drawn up by the protesters living part-time outside the church in tents is so woolly and dim it makes a flock of sheep look like CERN physicists. It calls for the redistribution of global power, no less, an end to the Isle of Man, and 'total transparency' to everything everywhere in demands which themselves are about as clear as mud.

Moreover, in the past few weeks a lot of the people in those tents have been undercover journalists.

The reports - for papers of every political bent - are pretty much the same. Lots of students, a few poshos, couple of crusties and plenty of grass-roots-democratic-inclusive-LGBT-and-people-who-prefer-not-to-say holding meetings about whose turn it is to be Leader of the Revolution while ordering in Italian artisan baguettes and using the Starbucks khazi.

I'm not being cynical or making it up - I've been down there myself. I know hacks who got on the baguette rota and inclusion committee, who failed to get any sleep every night on cold concrete while watching dew form on the ends of their noses and who have arguably shown a lot more dedication to the cause than some of the campaigners. Half of them saw their copy spiked because one of their rivals published first, but if they were sent back there next week they'd do it all again.

I like a good protest; covering one with a purpose and even slight chance of success is an inspiring thing. I'm all for someone climbing Big Ben dressed as Batman, or a million people taking to the streets, or a man devoting himself for 10 years to shouting abuse at politicians about an illegal war. It's good copy and besides, we should hold tight to the idea that if enough of us show we are annoyed about something then someone might change it. I can't remember the last time that happened, but let's hold on to the belief all the same.

The one thing I don't like and which annoys me more than anything else on earth is faff. The doing of nothing in particular in a particularly laboured and annoying way for more time than it would take to do it properly is quite possibly the biggest waste of human potential it is possible to witness.

But protests often lead to faff. Stupidity leads to faff. Crime, wrongdoing, corruption, adultery, drugs, lying - it all leads to faffing about. If we outlawed faffing the whole planet would be a more efficient place with plenty of spare time for people to invent brilliant things, be nicer or at the very least just stop for a think.

If the clerics at St Paul's stopped faffing about whether to resign or evict protesters camped on their land, they might see that they could end the protest by using their influence to encourage the bankers who oversee their cathedral's charitable arm to donate their bonuses to the homeless for Christmas.

If the bankers who walk past St Paul's every day stopped faffing around with our bailout billions long enough to realise they could make even more bucks by being a bit nicer, they might open up the London Stock Exchange every night as a soup kitchen or at least sit down with the politicians in a spirit of true reform to fix the things they've all managed to break.

And if the #Occupy protesters stopped faffing about their inclusive baguettes and mission statements they might see that squatting outside almost the only organisation in The City of London to do anything for the poor is a total waste of time especially when GOLDMAN SACHS IS JUST DOWN THE ROAD.

As it is we're all going to witness a legal fight between one of the country's biggest landowners and a bunch of students who'll be claiming Legal Aid, each of them looking more unreasonable and unpleasant as the days pass and the story gets further removed from the bankers, who like the journalists go to work come rain or shine.

I don't know what Jesus would do, but I'll bet you any money his face has met his palm a few times.