I'm entering a small, plush West End cinema to watch For Coloured Girls. "No one else is watching it," the attendant says disapprovingly. "You'll be alone in there."
Minutes later a woman enters doing that swaying Gospel dance move that is so popular in African-American churches. She walks the length of the dimly-screen in that manner, saying 'Oh my!' in mock exhaustion. The cinema fills up and, everyone titters nervously, excited they are about to watch an unrelentingly intense film about what life dishes out to black women. The closing credits roll out to the Nina Simone powerful classic Four Women. It has the audience glued to their seats.
Two days earlier: I'm standing at the biggest and most violent student protest London has seen in a very long time. A short distance away from mounted police and the coming mayhem, three teenage girls are singing an Abba parody — 'Money, money, money, it's so funny, must be a Tory world.' It will be a few years before these girls enter university — if they ever do or even wish to, after the Tory-led coalition tripled tuition fees to a ceiling of £9,000.
A bunch of long-haired university students rush past pushing a speaker on wheels. 'A working class hero is something to be,' John Lennon, shot 30 years ago, sings out.
I am surrounded by Britain's me-first generation — middle class boys and girls who have never tasted politics. Not surprising then that they don't have protest songs from their own era. Later, in the evening, some sit around a fire singing 'Let it be.'
I step out of the cinema to be greeted by the unsettling sight of 200 beer-swilling Santa Clauses lounging around the square. "We are the Santa Con," one grins, "that's short for the Santa Convention." Apparently, as we speak, Santas are similarly gathering all over the world. Some are smoking.
"What do we want? Christmas," the tipsy Santas shout out in mock protest. "When do we want it? Now!" Then they're marching, holding on to their beer cans. Someone give these kids some songs of protest, I think — an ironical Christmas gift from the generation that's caused this mess in the first place.