Bilderberg 2010: Why the protesters are your very best friends. The people who are being detained, searched and questioned are not playing some game. They are deadly serious, and they are worried to death
Guerrilla journalists in Sitges, where the Bilderberg conference is being held. Photograph: Alex Amengual Photograph: Alex Amengual/guardian.co.uk
Ivan was alone on the roundabout. He had been left in charge of the banners while everyone else ate breakfast.
He slipped an empty bottle of red wine into a binliner and stretched. At his feet was a chalk-drawn pyramid showing the structure of society, the word "pueblo" at the bottom, and the tip pointing up the hill towards Bilderberg. It's a short pyramid today, maybe half a heavily-armed mile from Rockefeller down to Ivan.
Ivan's bed last night – is it had been the night before – was the scrub by the roadside. "It's not so cold in my bag," he said. "A lot of times I travel in the mountains – in the mountains, you can sleep anywhere."
A lone Catalonian in green trousers, he clutched a leaflet and stood in the Sitges sun as, up the hill, billionaires and finance ministers ate kiwifruit patisseries.
The shame, the awful poignancy of Bilderberg, is that, for much of the time, there are more delegates up the hill than there are protesters at the foot of it.
On that point, there's something I'd like you to do. I'd like you to extend a grateful thought, a prayer of thanks, an idle nod of acknowledgment – a something, an anything – towards Ivan and all the others who have come to Sitges to bear witness to Bilderberg 2010.
These people are on your side, they are fighting your corner. And if you don't think it's a corner that needs fighting, or if it's a corner you think is being fought by the people up the hill ... well, good luck to you.
I want you to know, though, that the people who are crawling around on pine needles with long lenses, trying to identify delegates (and doing pretty well, by the way), the people who are being detained, searched, questioned, then heading out again into the hills, the people who are sitting late into the night at the campsite bar, talking about distracted populations and central banks, are not lunatics.
They are your very best friends. They're not feeble-minded or playing some kind of game. They are deadly serious, and they are worried to death.
These people look at the state of the world and they pack a rucksack and sleep at the side of a roundabout.
The head of the IMF (and Bilderberger), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, looks at the world and declares: "Crisis is an opportunity." He sees the precarious global economy and floats the idea for "a new global currency issued by a global central bank".
Now, if you think that's a good idea – if you think yet more centralisation of debt (and interest payments), and more unelected financial control is a good thing – then good luck (what are you? The chairman of Barclays?)
We already have a world, says Daniel Estulin, the arch Bilderbotherer, "where unelected bodies like the IMF can tell sovereign nations like Greece what to do".
Estulin is here in Sitges, wearing the fanciest trousers I've seen in a long time.
He says the Bilderberg endgame is "one world company ltd". And the board of directors is sitting half a mile away.
And they're being watched. I can't say from where – I don't know where the guerilla camerafolk are out crawling today. And I can't ring them, because they've turned their mobiles off and taken out the sim cards so they can't be triangulated by the signal.
They're out getting sunstroke on your behalf, on my behalf. I'll publish some of their photos, and some of their spottings, tomorrow.
Later today, a bunch of Spanish activists are providing paella for everyone in a mountain restaurant. Some of us won't make it. Some of us will be under arrest, or lying in a ditch holding our breath until the footsteps pass.
One last time: if you think what they're doing is ridiculous, you're wrong. It's the fact they're having to do it at all that's absurd.
This morning, a policeman screeched up beside me as I went for a stroll and told me to take the recording device out of my pocket. I did. It was a bit of driftwood from the beach. Yesterday, I had my car searched (and was detained for 50 minutes while the Mossos d'Esquadra checked and rechecked my passport).
They asked me what was in the boot. I dug them out a T-shirt. The patrolman radioed the station and read out the slogan on the shirt in heavily accented English: "I went to Bilderberg 2010 and all I got was this lousy new world order." His partner asked me why I was laughing. I couldn't really explain.
BIlderberg is an absurdity. The secrecy is absurd. The lack of a relationship between the event and the mainstream media is absurd. Ivan standing alone by his roundabout bed is absurd. The paranoia of the participants is more than absurd – it's pathetic.
This year, most of the delegates were whisked into the hotel through an underground entrance, dodging the lenses, like a bunch of James Bond baddies, like a dieter creeping downstairs at midnight to eat chocolate cake from the fridge.
But the good news is that not everyone has dodged the cameras (John Elkann, the heir to Fiat, was spotted by the German blog Schall und Rauch looking particularly dapper this year). And the even better news – the very best news – is that the press seems, finally, to have woken up to Bilderberg.
We have had camera crews from Spanish TV and Spanish newspapers both local and national (Javier from El Mundo is currently up a tree with a camera). French journalists, Portuguese documentary makers and al-Jazeera are picking up the story. Russia Today has sent a film crew.
We've had articles in the Independent and the Times, and on the Today programme on Radio 4. Daniel Estulin has been doing interview after interview. He's getting quotes from inside the meeting. The veil of secrecy is looking decidedly tatty. It might be time to bin it.
And yet the veil of ignorance is still holding up pretty well. As Ivan says, handing me a leaflet from the Anwok collective, "it is difficult to talk about the Bilderberg agenda if people don't even know about the group".
I know what he means – I've spoken to countless news agencies and outlets in the last few weeks, and the most common response, from journalists, editors and commissioners, is: "I'm sorry, the Bilderberg what?"
But seriously, if you work on the foreign desk of a major news corporation and you're at the "Bilderberg what?" level of political awareness, you need to think about getting a different job. Take a sabbatical. Take up carpentry, or read a book.
It's like calling yourself a porn star and not knowing the reverse cowgirl. "The reverse what...?"
Get with the programme. Shimmy up a pine tree. Take a leaflet. Resign. You're not helping anyone.