No sooner have we disposed of one loony called David dangling from a crane next to the offices but we acquire another. This time it's Spiderman, disguised as not-so-mild-mannered father with a hump, D. Chick Esq. It soon turns into a trial of fortitude and endurance, not so much for Mr Chick -- who is well equipped with scran, warm clothing and many banners -- but for the rest of us. The mighty forces of lauranorda decide to seal off every road within a hundred yards of the crane -- why? He's not really Spiderman, chaps. He can't leap hundreds of feet or ensnare passing buses with his Web spinners -- so I have to walk half-way across East London, and sneak into the tradesman's entrance to get to work. Along the way I go along Cable Street -- now there's how to have a protest -- and through a quiet housing estate. Hundreds of other besuited office workers tramp silently along the same path, bringing a curiously surreal air to the estate.
It's always inspiring to watch the boys in blue up close over time. As there is absolutely nothing for them to do except fend off irate pedestrians, there's a lot of pacing around, sitting down and standing up again. The mobile catering van is particularly popular, and there is much conspicuous consumption of newspapers. We can rest safely at our desks.
Things liven up somewhat when the TV crews appear. These cluster together at one end of Tower Bridge, satellite dishes pointing at the sun -- this being the time of year when Sol traverses the geosynchronous orbit -- and cameras pointing at anything that moves. As this doesn't include Spiderman, the crane, the sessile plod or anything resembling traffic, hapless passers -- by are the main prey.
I hang around, trying to catch their eye. My theory, such as it is, is that the Chief Constable is a secret supporter of old Spidey, perhaps because of some unfortunate domestic circumstance, and has decided to maximise publicity for the chap both short and long term by massively over-reacting. Alas, the newshounds are clearly adept at spotting a weirdo with an agenda and I get passed over. Probably just as well: ever since I did a course in libel and slander I'm hideously aware that the simple act of typing something as innocuous as "Bill Gates does eat babies, you know" can be a very expensive way of ending one's career. Be a shame to lose it all over a cartoon character. And yes, I meant Spiderman.