Our man at Bilderberg: They're watching and following me, I tell you
Charlie Skelton is now being followed by the police and still hasn't done much more than eat a club sandwich. Global secret cabals have no sense of humour.
• Read all of Charlie Skelton's Bilderberg files
Now I've got too much to report.
I'll talk later about the strange secret circus of limousines, blacked-out windows, sirens, helicopters. No time to relate being detained for a SECOND time, for the crime of being half a mile from the Bilderberg hotel gates trying to take "arty" photographs of limousine wheels as they whisked past. Doing so little wrong that I was doing it while standing next to three policemen who were fine about it. Until the call came through on the radio and the motorbikes and squad cars squealed around me like a bad dream. I'll tell that story later. I have to talk now about what just happened.
But before I begin, please believe me when I say: I haven't gone nuts. I really haven't. Nine times seven is 63 and the capital of Italy is Rome. I know what I know. And I know that I'm being followed. I know because I've just been chatting to the plainclothes policemen I caught following me. As absurd as it sounds, I've just "made my tail".
They're watching me now. REALLY. They're sitting on the wall outside the cafe Oceania or whatever this is called, watching me type this sentence. I asked them in for a coffee but they declined. They laughed sheepishly when I called them Starsky and Hutch. They asked my name. "I told your colleagues. Twice."
They asked again. I told them. I asked back. There was an awkward pause. They're not very good at this. "... ... Nick … … … … and … John."
So there we were, me and my shadows. Nick and John. "We're just walking up and down." That was their cover story, and they didn't bother sticking to it. They simply couldn't resist: "How many days you spend here?" – "Where you from exactly?" – "You staying here alone?" I was laughing. It was too bizarre. "What is your job?"
I told "John" I wrote jokes for television programmes. He almost instantly forgot. It wasn't on the profile he'd just learned, clearly. "So what papers you write for?"
I noticed them in reception after breakfast. Like I'd noticed the similarly dressed, early-30s, bland-looking fellow the night before. He seemed to be staring at me. I turned round and caught him whispering to the receptionist and looking at me. I swear to God. I know this makes me sound like a lunatic, and if it weren't for my chat just now with Starsky and Hutch I might start assuming I've had a touch of the sun. Last night, the phone rang in my hotel room and someone hung up when I answered. The call came from inside the hotel. I assumed it was one of the other reporters ringing the wrong room. Maybe it was.
I'm just remembering now. I had a shorter than usual breakfast this morning. I came out. "Nick" was alone in the lobby. He was on his mobile. I trotted upstairs to my room. Down the stairs comes "John", also on his phone. I'm slotting together memories now, as I type. I haven't gone mad. This is happening.
Was he in my room? They knew I was in breakfast. This is crazy.
Here's what happened next: I headed out of the hotel with my laptop. And I thought to myself: you know what, if they're REALLY cops, they'll follow me. So I stopped, turned round, and waited. Ten seconds. I felt an idiot, standing there, waiting for an imaginary policeman to follow me out. Fifteen seconds. Eureka! Out comes "John" on his mobile phone. He looks confused to see me standing there and crosses the road. I sit down on a wall. He dawdles by a lamppost. I get up, walk to the seafront, turn left, walk a bit, cross the road (gives me a chance to look both ways – and yes, there's "John").
I walk into the far entrance of the cafe. I'm in an episode of The Wire. The cafe is long and thin. I double back on myself and stand, hidden, by the earlier entrance. I'm standing behind a shrub, clutching a laptop to my chest, my heart beating like a Phil Collins solo (on drums, not piano).
I'm just an ordinary guy. A concerned citizen. For this week at least, a blogger. Barely a reporter. A terrible photographer. No threat to anyone. I'm nobody. But just up the hill, in a luxury hotel, there's a meeting of the most powerful somebodies in the world. Bilderberg. I've been hauled off to the police station twice. Before this week, I've never had so much as a cross word with a policeman IN MY LIFE. I once drove at night with my lights off and was pulled over and told not to drive like an idiot. And that's it. I'm not a bad person. I don't even know what I am any more. I think I write jokes for a living. I think maybe I used to. I'm a man clutching a laptop to his chest, trying to breathe quietly. Ten seconds. Fifteen. "John" comes round the shrub and steps back, bewildered.
"I'm no threat, you know that, don't you?"
Poor "John". I felt sorry for him. He wasn't very good at this. I'm not the smartest shoe in the window but it took me all of four minutes to blow his cover.
They didn't want to come for coffee. I asked them to take my photo. They did. I took one of them. "No fotografia! Show me the camera!" Poor "Nick", he was in a real bind. He couldn't remember if he was a policeman or not.
They seem nice, mostly, the police who have been harassing me for standing around and taking bad photos with a cheap digital camera. Yesterday, I got chatting with one of the motorcycle cops before I was bundled off in the squad car. I told him that I hoped tomorrow there would be protests here – not riots, but protests. He agreed. "It would be nice to hear another voice," he said, sadly. A big man in leathers, caught up in something far bigger. "But today I have to do my job. This is not a good situation."
This is not a good situation. It would be nice to hear another voice.
I'm going to pay for my coffee now and head back to the hotel. Just the three of me.
Charlie Skelton will continue to file regular updates from Athens because it seems safer that way
Převzato z The Guardian