It was awesome!
While I was a little bit late to the event on Saturday (I had gotten stuck in the Tower of London, and didn’t budget my morning correctly), it was easy enough to find Monte at the Eye, and with a quick-change in a phone box (not really, I just changed shirts on the pavement), it was a quick walk up the Thames to catch up with the rest of the soldiers on the riverwalk.
On the riverwalk, we stopped for refreshment, and attempted to fit a number of toy soldiers into the bank of phone boxes, and took pictures. While we waited and rested from the heatwave that was striking the capitol, we waved and saluted for a number of tourist buses which passed us on the road.
From the riverwalk, we proceeded to the Imperial War Museum, where we split up into small groups. I spoke to some tourists and tour guides who were curious of the uniformed people invading the museum, and handed out propaganda. One of the tour guides was quite surprised that I was from America, and had come all this way, but she was too. I had too much fun in the museum, however, and I emerged to find the group had moved on!
I managed to get a hold of Jack of Blades (whose tentacles are quite terrifying), and determined a place for a meet-up in Camden for the pub-crawl, and I went adventuring about Camden Town. Found a wonderful little place to sit and eat my dinner at the Camden locks, and sat in my uniform happily munching.
That evening, I met back up with the team at the End of the World, where we promptly proceeded to The Hobgoblin, a metal and gothic-themed pub. And that was a bunch of fun. I propagandised the table over from us, while they asked us about what we were doing, how Doctor Steel fit into the world-views of anarchism and nihilism (If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong), and had a generally good time.
Sunday, we had an early morning starting back at the Eye again, and had a coffee and some Bumper Cars at the NAMCO arcade. Here we met General Squirrel, his parents, and his dog, and and steeled ourselves for our scheduled protest at Westminster, in Parliament Square. We marched across Westminster bridge, placards held high for all the tourists to see, and discovered the green already encamped… with other protesters!
Turns out that the Peace Village that had set up in February, was still encamped there. This fractious group of protesters who only had one thing in common (ending the British involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq) actually turned out to be a boon! We walked amongst them, spreading fun, happiness, and Doctor Steel and they took to it pretty well! By the end, we had been offered a loudspeaker for giving a speech (we had been told to not bring them by the constabulary), one of the protesters joined us as we marched to No 10, and the folks with the loudspeaker proclaimed “Peace, Love and Doctor Steel” as we left. What started off as a bit of a tense encounter (black, quasi-military uniforms showing up unexpectedly at a peace protest) ended up well for all.
We continued down the street to our scheduled protest in front of Downing Street, and encountered another couple of protests (one to free a missing Israeli/British citizen), but passed along, spreading fun and happiness. We weren’t allowed to go down Downing Street (as it is really just a short alleyway), but we set up across the street from the large gate, and spread propaganda to the tourists and those wandering through town.
And then it was time for Hamleys, the largest toy store in London. As we had problems with them last year, we attempted to go in Hobbit-style (two-by-two, in waves). The main body of the invasion waited in a back alley with the placards, and groups headed into the store. Turns out, they were not as opposed to us this year, and by the end, Monte had replaced the store barker on the pedestal outside the store, performing juggling tricks to amaze and delight.
The evening ended with the Toy Soldiers returning to the Steam Engine (where some of the soldiers were rooming), we watched the World Cup final, and had a wonderful night.
All in all, it was a great invasion, and I had a bunch of fun doing it, totally worth the seven hour flight!