Day 8: Thursday 28 May (Westminster and St James’ Park)
Today, Tom and I returned to Westminster because we did not feel that we had enough interviews there first time, even though we did speak to an unhappy footballer.
Fortunately for us, we got three interesting interviews. The first was with Faiz, who is a journalism student from Balochistan, and who was outside the Houses of Parliament in order to commemorate the fact that on 28 May 1998, Pakistan detonated six atomic devices in Balochistan and in order to exert pressure on the UK government in order to help bring about independence for Balochistan, where otherwise Balochis are treated as second class citizens, complete with what Faiz describes as unlawful arrests, state-sanctioned torture and worse.
Faiz is generally happy and believes that most Balochis are happy. Nonetheless, he still believes that for general happiness to be brought about, work needs to be done. And perhaps by all of us.
We then had a brief chat a student from Spain who is about to finish after eight long years his degree in aeronautical engineering, and to Mark, a laconic, big white-bearded black man who lives in a hostel nearby and who also claimed to be happy, suggesting that what goes around comes around.
Meanwhile, at St James’ Park, Tom and I had what is for certain our longest interview, talking to two civil servants who may or may not have had a few drinks prior to our arrival. Aggressive in their counter-questions, they put me to the test in terms of why I am doing the film. Clearly very smart, I worried that they also found me a bit dumb, not least because they think that the idea of limiting ourselves to stations on the Circle Line is a silly idea…
However, most interesting of the day were the people who declined to speak to us. Not because the average person who says no is that interesting. But in fact two people, one a woman approaching us from Whitehall at Westminster, and one a man in a blue suit called Sam who walked past us at St James’ Park, both refused to speak with us, not because they did not want to, but because they cannot go on camera and be seen… In other words, it was interesting to see that Westminster in general is home to some people who feel compelled (who need) to keep a low visual profile. I wonder what their Facebook pages are like…
Finally, since it was getting late, Tom and I had a drink in one of the pubs by St James’ Park, where we spoke at some length to Derrin, an ex-army officer who claims to be a ‘patriot’ (although I did suggest to him that if he were such a great patriot, then he might at least pronounce the word in the British (‘pat-tee-ut’), rather than the American (‘pay-tree-ut’) fashion.
He did not declare to be a UKIP supporter, but definitely referenced UKIP as he explained to us his (detailed) knowledge of British history, especially our involvement in various wars, and the difference between terrorism in the UK at the hands of Irish Republican Army and terrorism in the UK at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. He believes that better a few civil liberties be denied than anti-patriotic sentiment be allowed to bloom.
I may not agree with all of what Derrin says (I don’t agree with much of it), but he was both admirable in many ways and certainly would have made for an interesting voice in this project.
With only one (admittedly long) interview at St James’ Park, we might need to head back at some point.