The Journal of Lynton Charles, Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Monday Bank holiday for the masses, fiscal duties for yours truly. We who must work in Whitehall have been warned that the day is likely to be full of strange noises and stranger crowds. So I arrive early at Fort Knox; but even so, police coaches and vans are everywhere.

I sign a thousand letters, approve a trillion drafts, plough my way through a dozen turgid euro missives, take a call from Starbuck at EurOK, then another from Tony Phallos, who still keeps me informed about day-to-day disasters on the mayoral trail, and have an unpleasant daydream over coffee about losing my seat to a 20-year-old Tory called Justin, who has campaigned solely on asylum-seekers. Then the noise from the streets suggests that things have got under way and the anarchists are in town.

Curiosity gets the better of me. I don't know much about anarchists. When I was at college, they were never well organised and usually pretty apolitical (though occasionally you'd come across one who'd mention the Spanish CNT or Bakunin). But the modern lot who took to the streets in Seattle and Washington are quite intriguing. Would I have been a member of Reclaim the Streets when I was 18? Probably.

So I decide to go among them. I'm in dress-down-Friday gear which - though not exactly yer young anarchist uniform - at least doesn't mark me out as a member of the government. So, like the Caliph in the story, I shall pass myself off as an ordinary Joe in a yellow cardigan and see what is what. I seem to remember that Nixon suddenly turned up one night at the Lincoln memorial and argued with anti- Vietnam war protesters. There is no similarity here.

I find quite a happy bunch down in Parliament Square. Some are putting turf down on the road in irregular patches, others are planting rather ill-looking bushes on the grass, and creating a lot of mud. The police are some way off, watching all this unfold. One girl with a ponytail and spots stands up after donating a begonia to the gunge and I pluck up the courage to ask her what she stands for. "No trains, no cars, no gas-guzzling planes," she tells me, seriously. "We've got to get back to community and self-sufficiency. Less consumerism, fewer things. Otherwise the planet will die." "Yeah," chimes in a young man next to her, whose head is shaved. "We want a world of diversity and many races and cultures living together, not pulled apart by capitalism and greed." I wonder, openly, about how the diverse races will ever get to meet each other in a world as immobile and local as Ponytail wants. Shaven-head regards me pityingly and asks if I have never heard of Thor Heyerdahl. Balsa-wood rafts across the Pacific seem a lot of effort to go to meet the neighbours.

I feel a presence at my elbow and look round to find none other than my arch-rival Denis MacShane (also in a yellow cardigan) standing at my side. "Ah, Lynton!" he exclaims, as though he has been practising. "Talking of sods in Parliament Square!"

Wednesday The Master is on the News, still fuming about the Cenotaph. Quite right, too, though I do recall spray-painting something about fascism on the walls of the senior common room in Keele in 1972. I was never caught, and I do regret it and all that. Fun at the time, though.

One day to go to meltdown day. Tomorrow, my waters tell me, we'll lose 400 council seats (including Harriet Toogood's, meaning she will be free to dog my every footstep again), come fourth in the Romsey by-election behind the UK Independence Party, and be forced to watch a triumphant Slippery become the anointed King of London amid a fanfare about new politics. And who created the mayoralty? Who instituted the proportional system for the London Assembly? Who invented this new bloody politics, I'd like to know? Yes, and who fucked it up?

This article first appeared in the 08 May 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The tiny group that controls us all