Hiyas. A small but intrepid bunch of suppressives met at Victoria rail station with about 10 minutes to catch the train, onward to the Saint Hill cult headquarters in East Grinstead --- approx halfway from London southward to the coast, in the stockbroker belt.
Present were Dave, Jens, Neil, Mark and Hartley, plus John Ritson who joined us at Croydon. Missing were Dave Gerard and Tony, who had various personal events to attend. Getting out at East Grinstead station, we noticed that a "local attractions" signboard mentioned Saint Hill, apparently the official responsible for it was a CofS member. We went by taxi to a pub called The Ship on Ship Street; despite pictures of a sailing vessel, my guess is that this was originally The Sheep on Sheep-Market Street (East Grinstead is about 25 miles from the sea).
One of us noticed a Sea Ogre known to him personally but, hey, it is "their town" and they are quite likely to be drinking there. Graeme Wilson says that half the population there i.e. 18,000 people are Scientologists. In fact he has a job to muster 1,800 across the entire country: perhaps a couple of hundred clams live in the area.
After a nice lunch of bangers and mash, we proceeded by taxi to the front gate of <URL: http://www.xemu.uk/clam/index.html#shorgmap > Saint Hill Manor. The click-through local map is not very good, but we come in via Turner's Hill on Saint Hill Lane. Most of that is a nice leafy tunnel where branches from trees either side join high overhead. The horse-shoe loop of road is where the Manor's sited, the main gate being on the nearest side.
Police were not greatly excited as yet. We mustered just off site and gave them a courtesy call: after a while they figured out who we were and what letter it related too, we said everything was peaceful so far but if they wanted to look at the situation we were happy with that. The scene as we saw it was fairly well organised, they had stewards in yellow tabards waving people through the gate. The main car park in the field was full as we arrived, perhaps 1500 cars. I should say this was Saint Hill's INTERNATIONAL EVENT. We understand that Miss Cabbage had been there on the Friday night, but a substantial event was proceeding on the Saturday afternoon. We were not catching the rush hour in and out (those probably take place before daybreak and after sunset, in a narrow busy lane, so we can't really do them). Nevertheless a moderate number of cars came through and saw us, containing staff and public members: we hope the rumour train was running on time and word got round. They didn't like us being there, though :->.
A police Sergeant and Constable arrived fairly quickly by car. At their suggestion we set up at a place visible but slightly offset from the gate, not directly in the face of the clams directing traffic. As we talked to him, his Ops room got a call about six "intruders" or whatever on the highway outside the Saint Hill grounds. He told them he was talking to us. We had a haggle about this and that, some posters and leaflets in some out. Further representations came from within that we had "been told this or that at Birmingham." We made clear a couple of us an afternoon with Civil Liberties lawyers who advised us that most of what the clams had told police in Birmingham was crap, and wouldn't stand up in court. We frankly weren't in a mood to defy a written order and be arrested, but if he gave us a written order which was improper then we'd all spend some time discussing it before the civil courts. He wasn't in a mood to give written orders, we just haggled out some details and went ahead.
In practice because of travel difficulties we only did 45 minutes at the gate, though it was a pretty good 45 minutes. Though it was the end of October, the weather would have been a nice surprise in early September: lovely clear skies and bright sunshine, with a few small high clouds. A couple of people came along and yacked at us or at the police, but we just went ahead. Dead on the end of the agreed time, we moved to the car rendezvous point about 50 metres away and called up transport back.
We spent some time at The Ship, then looked at the Saint Hill shop which we knew was empty, to let, and "moved" with no indication where to. In practice we did a photo opportunity of us pointing at the To Let sign with big grins on our faces. I was for a brief period of leafleting as we had arranged with police, but I was outvoted. We had another latte or soft drink mostly while waiting for taxis back to the rail station. The Sergeant dropped by and we told him what we had done i.e. a few minutes of photos and that was it we were now waiting for transport out.
We got there as the train from London pulled in to East Grinstead which is the terminus, then boarded it and waited a few minutes for it to pull out. And that was it: all in all, we had a Grand Day Out.
__ .' '. "OUR GRAND DAY OUT" : : | _ _ | cracking clams, grommit! .-.|(o)(o)|.-. _._ _._ -- -------( ( | .--. | ) )-----.',_ '.------.' _,'.----------- '-/ ( ) \-' / /' `\ \ __ / /' `\ \ / '--' \ /.' \.' './ '.\ \ `"===="` / ` : _ _ : ` `\ /' |(o)(o)| `\ /' | | http://www. /`-.-`\_ / \ xemu.demon.co.uk _..:;\._/V\_./:;.._ / .--. \ .'/;:;:;\ /^\ /:;:;:\'. | ( ) | / /;:;:;:;\| |/:;:;:;:\ \ _\ '--' /__ _____/ /;:;:;:;:;\_/:;:;:;:;:\ \_.' '-.__.-' `-.__art_by_jgs.