What should be allowed in London’s best known square – Trafalgar Square? This was the issue on my mind as I stood in front of the National Gallery waiting to meet a friend this afternoon. The place is quite busy on a Saturday at the best of times, but today the peace was further disturbed by three old men preaching rubbish about Jesus through loudspeakers from the bottom of Nelson’s Column (pictured). What is it with religious types? Are they just allowed to setup there and disturb people? Could – say – a second hand car salesman stand up there with a tannoy? Or a politician? Maybe I am just too anti-religion. Can we issue ASBOs against preachers in the way you can against neighbours that disturb a neighbourhood?
So you can preach in the square. And the damned pigeons can also poo. It’s less bad than it used to be, but still quite grim.
But then there are things you cannot do. A group of tourists were sat on the steps up towards the National Gallery and one dared to take a bottle of Beck’s out of his bag. A Police Community Support Officer was there in a flash to try to conviscate it from him. Now, I can see why you don’t want drunked and disorderly people there, but one beer? Further, new signs have also been displayed in the fountains warning that they are not suitable for the public to bathe in, or put their feet in.
It just struck me in that instance that we clearly have our priorities all wrong. I would so much prefer a square with no pigeon poo, no preachers, but where you can drink a Beck’s and dip your feet in the fountain.