Fortnum and Mason protest story re-told with a bassoon

My Fortnum and Mason Hell is the story of the peaceful protest that turned sour

Prison can inspire people to do wonderful and powerful things. This Ben Brailsford found out, when he was incarcerated and came up with the idea for his new show.

The 27-year-old, from Highgate, was one of a number of protesters arrested after a peaceful sit-in at upmarket tourist favourite Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly earlier this year.

Now he has put together a show based on the protest and his treatment at the hands of police and will perform it at Jacksons Lane arts centre in Highgate.

The show, My Fortnum And Mason Hell, is the story of Brailsford’s arrest for aggravated trespass and the “Kafka-esque nightmare” that ensued. It also follows the story of the 100-odd other protesters arrested that day – some of whom will face trial on November 9.


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“We walked in really, they weren’t expecting us, and we sat down and did a bit of chanting,” Brailsford recalls. “The shoppers carried on shopping and nothing much happened really. It was only when I had to leave a little bit later that I had to stay in the shop as I was told there was a riot outside. On the outside, people were damaging the shop and, when we were released from the shop, we were immediately arrested and I realised why we had been kept in there for so long.”

Brailsford, normally a bassoon player, thought of the show while in his cell for 24 hours after peacefully protesting and allegedly being kettled by the police.” Put a creative person in a police cell and something like this is bound to happen,” he says.

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He is excited to be putting on the show after it received a seal of approval at Edinburgh, where some of his fellow detainees came along to watch his one-man performance. The show is accompanied by music from Brailsford who takes “every opportunity to play the bassoon” – perhaps the new sound of protest.

n At Jacksons Lane, Archway Road, on Friday November 11 at 9.30pm.

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