Now what? - Lauren Booth attends an illegal rave
Bill the Builder spots Elvis as the police once again disturb our private rave
In mid-Wales, the police mantra is: "Better the fascist you know than the peaceful traveller you don't." The same force that allowed a BNP party for a couple of hundred nutters to go ahead, has yet again tried to close an event held by my friend in the same area.
At around 9.30pm, a police van rolled up to the farm gate. Around 300 of us were already enjoying the party. There were tents, yurts and tepees across three fields. Bashed-up vans and cars that look impossible to start were parked across the other two. The sergeant said: "I just want to come and look around" (with 12 or so of his mates). Two weeks earlier, they had screeched on to the farm in a squad car, demanding to know where the "illegal rave" was going on.
It was early evening, and a group of inner-city youngsters were enjoying the end of their first farm holiday - organised by Paul and a London care authority. As a surprise treat for the kids, one of the barns had been rigged with lights and some speakers and turned into a dance area especially for their last night. Seeing the police frightened them. To these children (aged six to 13), uniforms mean problems at home, drug gangs, shootings, fear. Paul was furious.
"Here, here's your 'illegal rave'," he seethed, pointing to a small group of children giggling on the barn steps.
"Go on, go inside. You've ruined the atmosphere and frightened them already. You might as well complete your job." The police went into the dimly lit "disco", where five older kids were jumping about. One of the boys, a hardened, streetwise lad, yelled from the corner: "Penny for the black boy, mister?" Holding back a laugh, Paul guided the car off his property.
On Friday, though, he didn't let them through security. Even hippies have limits. As I strolled to the Hawaiian-style bar, the police were being graced with one of Paul's legendary lectures.
"Look, I'm tired of this constant harassment. We've informed you of the party and taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of the guests and the privacy of our neighbours. We've hired a security firm to guard the gates and have the name of every single person here - and, no, you can't have the list unless you have a legal reason or a warrant with you, which I'm sure you don't. And while you're here, let me remind you that I have rights as well and will be making a formal complaint to the . . . " They left. I had never really understood what the word "filibuster" means. I do now.
Sitting on the hillock at the centre of the farm, my friends and I watched teenagers roam the land like packs of feral dogs. They were behaving with more maturity than their wayward parents, who were giggling like children, dancing like drunken pandas and having the time of their lives. Bill the Builder sat down next to my husband and me after the fireworks and pointed at the bar.
"Hey, wow, look - there's fucking Elvis!" I'd already seen a crusty who looked like Peter Wyngarde, a dishevelled Brad Pitt lookalike and a cardinal letting off fireworks, so I was ready to believe Elvis was also here to party. Why not? "Look, he's over there, I'm telling you . . . " insisted Bill. A small crowd of dusty dancers joined us to peer into the dark.
After several minutes, I said: "Bill, perhaps it's only you he's come to see." Bill smiled his toothless smile and shook his head. "It's like Princess Diana," he sighed. "She's always turning up and saying: 'Bill, Bill, come with me. I fancy you like mental.' Now I've got a princess and a king wanting my attention. It can be hard being me, sometimes."
Why are the authorities so frightened of us having a good time? Maybe they're more comfortable with a speech from the BNP's Nick Griffin than the thought of Elvis gyrating with Diana.