I was talking to someone yesterday who had watched the building across the street from his office being picketed. He was quite bemused and asked me, very innocently, how much I thought they were paid for a day's demonstrating. I tried very hard to keep a straight face and explained that in general people protest because they feel strongly about something. He couldn't imagine feeling so strongly about something that he would take to the streets. I was stunned - I have been demonstrating since I was a babe in arms and continue to do so. Indeed this weekend I will be out in Finchley to kick the BNP out of N3. But of course, I realise that I am in a minority. There is no tradition of demonstrating your support of or opposition to something by marching, picketting or leafleting. Brits don't build barricades, they don't set light to effigies (apart from Guy Fawkes and the political significance of that particular conflagration has long been forgotten). Occasionally something will really upset folk here and hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets - the ban on hunting, the Iraq war, G20. But most of the time most people not matter how provoked simply shrug, thinking "not much I can do about it". In France, of course, they will take to the streets at the drop of a chapeau. They have been engaged in practically hand-to-hand combat over the raising of the pension age by two years. Here the pension age is going up six years for women and the response - loud tutting. As if to prove me wrong, as I write this student protesters are storming Millbank Tower. A rare example of things kicking off here or evidence of a change in attitude?