Jimmy. Photographed on Sunday 26 February just after he'd been into St Paul's Cathedral to show them his documents from the Land Registry. Quite why Jimmy decided to pose shirtless is anyone's guess - I thought he was going to strip naked!
© Paul R Davey 2012
The Occupy camp at St Paul's may well be history, but there's a late and rather extraordinary twist in the tale, that surprisingly has had very little media coverage. It all comes down to the ownership of the land.
Who owns the land is not clear. It could be the State, the Corporation of London, the Church or even Mitsubishi. Or it could now be Jimmy.
Jimmy is a homeless man who has for the last 10 or 11 years, lived on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. As a Resident of Long Standing, Occupy have helped Jimmy register is own interest in the land. There appears to be little documentation and no trail of conveyancing pointing to any legal owner - so I guess the courts will be busy once again, untangling the mess.
The story so far is that in 1600s, King Charles I bequeathed to the common people, the land on which the cathedral now stands. Occupy have managed to find a 40-page document to this effect. They took Jimmy down to the Land Registry office in Croydon and he returned to the camp with what are effectively, subject to proper searches, the title deeds to St Paul's Cathedral.
Jimmy displays two pieces of paper that could present the Establishment with a rather large headache.
© Paul R Davey 2012
Is this the amazing story of a rough sleeper's miracle or is it the story of a desperate movement using a vulnerable person to meet their own ends?
Well, I have met Jimmy. He is indeed a rough sleeper - but I wouldn't describe him as vulnerable - at least not in the context of this story. Jimmy is robust. Behind his lively, wickedly twinkling blue eyes lies a Scouser's sharp wit. He is no-one's fool. I like him. Doubtless, he has a back-story as to how he became homeless, probably quite sad - and demons he has to deal with right now, but the little interaction I have had with him leaves me to believe that he's quite an engaging, intelligent, articulate man. I wasn't talking to a lunatic. He told me how before the church was there - long before it was there, it was a pagan site of some significance. It apparently lies at the intersection of two lay lines or energy fields and possesses a special energy. In fact, someone else I met at the camp, Ben, a classical pianist, tried to explain all this to me and even took me to the precise place where the lines cross. He asked me if I could feel the energy, even getting me to try and push against it with my hands. Alas, I am not one who feels such things.
I asked what Jimmy intended to do with the site, assuming he does indeed become the legal owner. "I'll give it back to the people".
Now, if you ask me, that is a pretty anti-capitalist thing to do - and it would be a great victory for Occupy who need to appreciate just how lucky they are. I still don't know whether they have used Jimmy but I like to think (as I'm sure would Occupy) that perhaps they gave him the idea and of his own volition, albeit with their help, he decided to pursue it. If not, if he was pressured, perhaps bribed and cajoled into some sort of stunt, then shame on them for that is the very kind of manipulation that the movement is supposed to be against.
Jimmy declined to do my interview. I do hope he will oblige me at a later stage.
Jimmy, aware that he was being photographed whilst deep in conversation, turned towards me making this face, either irritated by the barrage of flashes or simply out of mischief.
© Paul R Davey 2012
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