John Walsh: BTW (12/11/10)

You always remember your first riot

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* Among the 40 Millbank demonstrators on Wednesday were several thousand students who'd never seen a riot before, never seen policewomen with blood all over their faces, never watched policemen whacking protesters on the back of their legs with metal canes, never imagined one of their co-protesters could drop a fire extinguisher from a rooftop with lethal intent, and never been "kettled" with the threat that, if they tried to leave, they'd be arrested. One of them was my son. His most vivid memory was of a girl throwing the contents of a lemonade bottle in a policeman's face – a man who'd already been abused and punched – and how he retaliated with fury, as if being made sticky were the final insult. My son also noted the good-natured feel of the early demonstration, summed up by the placard that read: "Nine Grand Will Leave Me Quite Bereft. I've Only £12.50 Left."

* How lovely were the official photographs of Ed Miliband, his girlfriend Justine and their new-born son Samuel. And how meticulous of the Labour leader's advisers to make sure that, though Ed was wearing an un-tucked-in shirt, and Justine was in a just-given-birth maternity smock, both shirt and smock bore poppies. You can bet Ed's got a poppy on every single one of his jackets, overcoats, raincoats and pyjamas, and that Justine's been persuaded to sport one on every pashmina and headscarf. But one thing puzzles me. Where's the baby's poppy? Does young Samuel think he's above English tradition? Or is he (as The Daily Mail loves to ask) showing contempt for our Armed Forces? I recommend they pin one on the kid's Babygro before the Cenotaph ceremony, or there'll be hell to pay.

* The shops are filling up with 2011 calendars. But since those WI ladies posed for the camera with nothing on, their bits hidden by cakes and kitchen utensils, things have gone screwy in calendar-land. A week ago, the Peta animal-rights organisation complained about a Polish calendar that featured half-naked women dismembering barnyard animals with axes (the makers responded crossly by saying the animals were – duh – made of plaster). Now the funeral directors, Lindner (also Polish), have brought out a calendar showing curvaceous girls in lingerie and pearls draped over rosewood coffins, posing with guns and simulating sexual congress on top-of-the-range mahogany caskets. This time the protests have been from the Catholic church: "Tasteless and shocking," stormed Father Tadeus Rybnik in Warsaw. "Death is not sexy." Oh yeah? Wait until you see Miss August.

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