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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Nutty protest over student debt
Mark McGowan rolls the nut to Downing Street
Mr McGowan wants his 15,000 debt written off
A performance artist has begun the latest in a string of bizarre protests by using his nose to push a monkey nut seven miles to Downing Street.

Mark McGowan is slowly nudging the nut on his hands and knees from Goldsmiths College in New Cross, south-east London to highlight student debt.

It is the latest in a series of his protests which have included rolling across London to promote kindness to cleaners and walking backwards with a turkey on his head to fight obesity.

He has prepared for a variety of obstacles and has contacted police because of his concern about how fast he will be able to cross junctions.

But his hopes of getting his own 15,000 debt waived have been dashed by flat refusals from Prime Minister Tony Blair and Education Secretary Charles Clarke.

Mr McGowan expects to spend six to eight hours a day until 12 September, rolling the nut.

I'm aligning my nose vertically with the nut and taking a swing at it, like a golf club, and hitting it like that and it's going really well
Mark McGowan

"It really hurts the knees, neck, hands and especially the nose," said Mr McGowan, who lives in Peckham, south-east London.

"My plan is to do about three quarters of a mile a day, but it's slow.

"I think it will take me the full eight hours to do three quarters of a mile.

"I'm aligning my nose vertically with the nut and taking a swing at it, like a golf club, and hitting it like that and it's going really well."

He said he had written to both Mr Blair and Mr Clarke about his protest and had asked them to waive his debts.

Mr Blair's office referred him to the Department for Education and Skills which, Mr McGowan said, informed him its spending limits had already been set for the year.

But Mr McGowan said: "I'm still confident that if I do it, then maybe they'll waive the debt.

"I was thinking about phoning up Downing Street and asking him if I can present the nut when I get there, maybe put it in a glass box."

Artist rolls with it
13 Dec 02  |  England

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