Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 01/05/01It's May Day, and the streets of London ring with the traditional cries -- "Replace Capitalism With Something Nicer" , "You can't go down that street, sonny", and "No wombles in Oxford Circus, Sarge". A friend who has access to such things reports that the "wombles" -- ringleaders of the protest -- were high on the plod's list of people to watch, leading to some splendidly surreal radio conversations.

Tuesday
01/05/01 It's May Day, and the streets of London ring with the traditional cries -- "Replace Capitalism With Something Nicer" , "You can't go down that street, sonny", and "No wombles in Oxford Circus, Sarge". A friend who has access to such things reports that the "wombles" -- ringleaders of the protest -- were high on the plod's list of people to watch, leading to some splendidly surreal radio conversations. Other reports say that the high concentration of police using their walkie-talkies, mobile data links, encrypted voice comms and other wireless paraphernalia led to wireless networks in the City going down. At first gulp, that seems unlikely -- Radio Old Bill is miles away on the spectrum from 802.11 -- but on investigation it transpires that some of the more secretive surveillance bods use their own video transmission systems. Which they build themselves, on a budget, and, since they're in charge, they don't always follow the national radio frequency band guidelines. "What's more", says one informant, "they sometimes use amateur radio frequencies too, as equipment for these is widely available and very cheap. After the first time they inadvertently got into an amateur television repeater which rebroadcast their surveillance pictures all over the Thames Valley, we got a number to call if we saw it happening again..." All very mysterious, and a long way from Tony Hancock.

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