At Victoria station the daily exodus was happening. At 7pm, people were driving themselves out of their toil for the day with cartons of Marks and Spencers emergency food supplies. In the street outside, a group resembling the stragglers from Climate Camp, with backpacks and unwashed hair, were coming together. Apart from a couple of commuters who thought we were handing out copies of the Evening Standard, everyone had all come to play Capture the Flag, an urban street game for anarchists and other people who can be rounded up via forwarded emails, internet forums and anti-establishment blogs.

Around 60 of us were gathered, and were split into two teams by one of the organisers who, despite the face paint, aren’t leaders like William Wallace, more men of the people trade union leaders, wandering through the ranks distributing maps with the rules on and shouting instructions through a traffic cone. The rules are pretty simple: two territories, two teams, two flags; capture the other team’s flag and run it back to your territory. It’s like rugby for hippies, and without the showers afterwards.

The setting was beautiful, taking in the back streets around Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster. Everyone was aware of the large security presence guarding the Houses of Parliament, and the police turned up to stick their noses in, which is what quite a few people had been looking forward to. “Scum!” I heard a cry. This could have turned into 1968-style riots if people were not more interested in a playground game. It’s clear that the Old Bill were keeping an eye on us because we were about to commit an act of nuclear terrorism or exercise our right to free assembly. The anti-establishment fervour culminated in one angry anarchist scrawling “Guy Fawkes was right,” on the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament in chalk. It was all happening.

I opted out of the first game, trying to capture the action on video camera. I regretted this decision when I realised that the game takes place over a large playing area, maybe half a mile from one end to the other, with cars and offices, shops and churches preventing any sort of overview necessary to decide where to position oneself. All I saw to begin with were the odd pair of guerilla tag-teamers scurrying down back alleys under a cover of darkness. Then out of nowhere: “The Reds have got Blue flag, and they’ve staged a jail break!” cried an excited young Red. When I rushed back to the Blue jail, I heard that a Red team commander had indeed snatched the Blue flag and then escaped over a spiked fence. Insatiable! A spiked fence! He could have impaled himself or ripped his jeans. “John, did you get a picture of that?” He had not. I headed over to the Red jail to see the counter-attack. But where is the Red jail? Does anyone know where the Reds have put their flag? My coverage of this event was looking shoddy, having missed all of the action so far and being unaware of where to look for it. Despite the one display of cunning, I was struggling to see why the police need to use CCTV, helicopters and kettling to contain some of these guys, when all they really need to do is wave a handkerchief on a stick and they will be spellbound.

With the first game over, Reds the clear winners, I put the camera down and got ready to take part in the second round. Give me the bloody face paint, here I come! Blue team, get your arses off the canvas and do some flag capturing. After some debate, we positioned our flag outside Westminster Abbey until a security guard told us to move. “This is a unique historical location!” he yelled. “It’s a unique location to play Capture the Flag,” fired back a member of the Blue team. Reluctantly we moved our flag, but not without a few jeers in the guy’s direction.

I was taking the defence detail, which involved a lot of sitting around waiting for attacks, but I didn’t mind. Luckily, we were right outside the Houses of Parliament, which is also a unique historical location. And look at that, it’s a fox! “John, take a picture!” We spent the next ten minutes taking pictures of the urban dog, and completely forgot about the flag we were meant to be guarding. Typically, a smash and grab raid hit us while we were still cooing at the furry little creature, but I tagged the intruder on the way out! Lulled into a false sense of security, I nabbed him! My dad would be so proud, I’d apprehended a hippy while showing athletic prowess. In such a good mood, I let him walk to jail of his own accord, unlike some of the folks who were taking this far too seriously and actually manhandling their opposite numbers all the way to the nick, albeit in a friendly and consensual manner.

It wasn’t all hunky dory rule obeying, as an argument between a Red and a Blue took place because the Red escaped the clutches of the Blue whilst being taken to jail. Fifteen minutes of bickering then took place where I felt like I was back at school, watching two nerds arguing about a game of Pokemon. For Christ’s sake, I thought, you’re stading in a unique historical location and there’s a fox on the loose, and all you’re concerned about is if his hand was on your shoulder. And I think I just saw that die hard anti-war protester, Brian Haw, hobble past. He looks in terrible shape; he’ll probably be dead in his tent outside Parliament before the troops are out of Afghanistan.

As Big Ben chimed ten, the game was over. I collected my belongings and walked past Brian Haw’s protest, a damp cluster of wasted passion; I’m sure he will still be there when Capture the Flag has moved on to other unique historical locations.