In Edinburgh ready to cover a week of G8 protests in Scotland.
Anarchists were promising a “carnival for full enjoyment” but hadn’t
told the police or anyone else what that meant and where they were
going to enjoy themselves.
Cops were everywhere – hundreds of them in various states of riot
dress sitting in vans with Manchester, South Yorkshire, Lancashire,
Cheshire etc written on the sides – this truly was a national police
By noon the carnival had begun and we followed the
noisy, colourful anti-authoritarian throng to the financial district
where the aforementioned police officers corralled around 200 or so
protesters into a side street and refused to allow them or us to leave
for about two hours. There was the usual argy bargy and colourful
language as the demonstrators tested the police lines and patience and
our camera got smashed, but in the great scheme of things it was
Got a bit juicier later on in Princes Street,
but by then I had been sent up to Auchterarder to prepare for the main
event… the G8 and its protests.
Accommodation in Auchterarder was at a premium, so we at Sky News had rented a few local houses for the duration.
the one I was supposed to sleep in was shut up and the owners were
nowhere to be found. All was not lost, however, as it seemed we had a
spare room elsewhere in our property portfolio. This was in a very
grand country house with stunning views and acres of grounds, but apart
from our tiny single beds there was no furniture – not even any
curtains. This was minimalist living on the edge.
Up bright and early (no alternative really as my curtainless bedroom had been flooded with sunlight from about 4am).
Early lives into Sky News Sunrise as the tiny community of
Auchterarder prepares for the G8 nearby and all that comes with it.
Star of the show is Pete the joiner, who is boarding up shop windows as
fast as he can.
By mid-morning we’re in the middle of a bomb
scare and the High Street is evacuated. Several bemused Auchterardian
senior citizens are ushered out of the local cafÃ© with their half-drunk
morning teas and coffees in hand.
Two hours later all is clear
and I pull together a colour preview piece for Live at Five as
Auchterarder girds itself for whatever is to come.
Another earlyish start, though my room now has homemade binliner
curtains so my body clock is not totally governed by the solar cycle.
News gets to Auchterarder that anarchists have blocked main roads into
the town, ostensibly to stop G8 delegates getting to their meeting, but
in fact buggering up the protesters in their coaches trying to get to
I announce live that police have cancelled the march on public
safety grounds and interview a top cop about the whys and wherefores.
Unknown to either of us as we chat, another even more senior officer
has changed his mind and the march is back on again.
arrive, the rain starts, the protest begins. I am live again on a
roaming camera at the closest point the marchers will get to
Gleneagles. It’s all a little boring when all of a sudden a handful of
demonstrators leap over a fence into the field directly adjoining the
summit compound. By the time the police decide to try and stem the flow
there are several hundred protesters trampling the crops and heading
for the summit perimeter – we even manage to muscle in on the
wall-to-wall coverage of London’s Olympics win.
Pretty soon the
laid-back policing disappears. Riot cops arrive among the marchers and
in the field, scores more with shields, batons, dogs and horses.
Chinook helicopters swoop in low and noisily to drop off even more riot
police to shore up the Gleneagles defences. Soon the police decide to
clear the field and round up the protesters and us – forcing us all
back onto the road again. It’s over. The farmer who owns the field has
been watching it all unfold on Sky News and tries to present me with a
bill for the damage to his crops!
Wake up at a more normal time and ring round to find out what’s
going on. Then a Sky News text message arrives on my phone about an
explosion at a London tube station. Minutes later my phone rings. It’s
my producer – it’s not just one explosion but several and looks like a
terror attack. Get packing and get on a plane back to London. No more
G8 for me.
Arrive at Edinburgh Airport to get the lunchtime flight to Heathrow.
The place is crawling with hacks all scrambling to get back to London
for the bomb story. I finally arrive at Heathrow late afternoon and
call the desk. They tell me to go home, rest up and prepare for an
early start and a long day.
Up at 3.20am so I can get all the way from Hampshire to King’s Cross in good time to be on air and clued up by 6am.
In fact I’m there almost an hour early.
As the rush hour gets
going we are doing lives every half an hour on the mood of a shocked
London. We interview commuters about their fears and their resolve not
to allow the terrorists to win. We chat live on air to a couple of the
British transport police who were among the first into the Underground
after the bombs went off.
By mid-morning a man who had been on
the tube train near King’s Cross when it exploded arrives to confront
his fears about getting back on to the tube. He gets monstered by the
media pack and his story is beamed around the world.
Once the morning rush is over the pace slackens – the lives are only every hour now and other locations have more to say.
5pm we do what turns out to be our last live of the day and are stood
down. One of the busiest working weeks for some time is over. Red wine