Thursday, 11 November 2010

Escape from Millbank Tower

So, yesterday was eventful!

In the morning I got a call from MENCAP inviting me for an interview. It's my dream job. Wish me luck!

…And then half an hour later, the fire alarm went off.

When the alarms go off, it’s usually over nothing, so we all filed out with no sense of panic, bemoaning the idiot who had left the toasted sandwich maker on.

However when we got outside we heard a lot of chanting, yelling and thumping. It was at that point that we realised the student demonstration had descended on us. We still weren’t worried though. Demonstrations are noisy but usually non violent.

It wasn’t until we tried to get to the front of the building that we realised the thumping sound was being caused by hundreds of protestors, throwing themselves against the glass fa├žade of 30 Millbank, trying to smash it. We also saw fires being lit.

Hmm, ok, slight panic setting in at this point...

I pushed my way through to the front of both buildings and saw that the windows of my building – the larger, Millbank Tower – had been smashed and graffitied, and the sofas from our waiting room had been dragged out into the middle of the street, where protestors were sitting in them. There were also smoke bombs going off in our lobby.

I slipped back into the building and walked the 16 flights of stairs up to my floor. There was no way I was staying outside with that lot!

However, we had a constant, deafening fire alarm going off, so I couldn’t stay there either.

I called my boss who was in a meeting at a nearby hotel. God knows what he thought when he picked up. All he could hear was a fire alarm and me yelling about our building being smashed in.

He said I should try and get out and fight my way home. So I grabbed my stuff, as well as his laptop and bags, and headed back down the way I’d came.

My timing was, I was told this morning, impeccable. I managed to get my boss’ bags to him and get out of Millbank and over Vauxhall Bridge five minutes before the glass of 30 Millbank finally got smashed and things got really nasty.

By the time I got home the radio news was talking about riot police and people throwing fire extinguishers off the roof.

I brought my camera to work this morning and this is how things look right now:

30 Millbank is closed as a crime scene, and I just got an email from facilities management saying that the coffee shop next door to them is open for trading, but only out of the back door.

Millbank Tower is open, but security is very tight.

Oh and irony of ironies. I work for an education trust.

So anyway, scary smoke bombs aside, I was actually quite grateful for the early day. It gave me a chance to go to Tesco before dinner.

And I did enjoy channelling my inner Bruce Willis. Yippee kay yay motherfucker!