Trenton Oldfield, the protester who disrupted the Boat Race this weekend, is of interest to many people beyond those who care about the world of rowing fast and hard. As one of the two founders of This is Not a Gateway, which on its website says that it ‘creates platforms for critical projects and ideas related to cities’ , he has been engaging with our cities in relatively positive ways.
In his own time, however, he has been far more nihilistic. The blog that he set up in preparation for Saturday's madcap swim, called‘Elitism Leads to Tyranny’ calls for acts of civil disobedience, most of which look pretty childish. They include the idea that plumbers could ‘store up’ a problem in the offices of a conservative think tank, that taxi drivers could deliberately take posh passengers a long way round, and that cyclists could chain their bikes to a rack of corporate cycles.
This is Not a Gateway describes itself as Critical, Rigorous, Independent, Productive, and Oldfield has an impressive pedigree, having previously been coordinator of part of the Thames Strategy and a community development worker in North Kensington. One must assume that he just became utterly frustrated with actually getting anything done. Perhaps he would have felt better if he had attended Ash Sakula's planning breakout, and seen work that was impressively productive. It may not have smashed the elite, but it was certainly helping to improve life for the less privileged. Would that have been enough for him?