Monday, 28 March 2011

The Big March

Saturday morning at the Royal Courts of Justice I was buzzing for Justice. Rule 1 in our legal system is what is in the interest of justice? Having drunk 2 coffees, anything was possible.

200 Gurka's were camped on the tiny traffic island around the RAF Church. Men with distinctive hats and rows of medals accompanied by hardened army wives in colourful costume who sang and danced.

We were going to a march, and march we did.In moments we were sepparated from the Justice for All banner.

It took an age, standing with our banners, waiting for it all to kick off. A sea of humanity swamped the embankment  Ancient banners were displayed, all scarlet and tasselled. Union and local party banners , the design over 120 years old in some cases. Pictures of the founders in their long Victorian whiskers.

Then a cloud of green and pink balloons was released and we were off. Marching under the bare London trees. Except we just stood there for 40 minutes.

We moved, in starts and stops. Behind us was a group of teenagers from Dorset sporting green bandanas and kerchiefs, campaigning against EMA cuts and fee hikes. Bless, I thought, aren't they sweet. Then I overheard one lad who couldn't have been a day over 16 tell his mate how this was the third march he's been on. Hell, I should be asking them for tips!

The firebrand spoke thus “Oaaaaaaghhhhhyiiii We hate Tories we hate Tories we are the Tory haters! Many people hated the Tories, which is not surprising. Then the cutest group of kids overtake us with their mum. They have face paint and are chanting "No ifs no buts, no public job cuts."

Soon we moved on. Then we stopped. And then we became aware of the Anarchists walking next to us with their lip piercings and their rat tail hair and every one in a top hat. Top hats moving in a straight line along the Thames. Shortly afterwards the Love Tank glides by, a sort of float playing Bob Marley.

Then I collected my senses and we began to move and on my left was the London Eye. Then we inched along for 2 hours. 2 hours turned into 3. Our legs hurt, out knees ached. Then nothing is moving at all. Then Michael Mansfield QC arrives and everyone's shouting, save, save Legal Aid!

We see dinner ladies, dentists and dieticians. Union banners from all over the country, and local activists with hand made signs. My favourite of these was "Bankers of the world ignite", but running a close second is the butler complete with tray and tea pot and "Teapots against kettling." Special mention for the kid with "My parents are making me carry this sign."

Then we're into Westminster Square. We speed up and soon we're past Downing Street where we all slow down and hiss and boo. Firebrand is speechless. “He's probably at Chequers” someone points out.

We hook a left at the Horse Guards, some protesters gurn at the young man in 19th century horse armour, personally I think that's mean. Marchers go for a leak and firebrand sounds off. An actress for East Enders gives us a cheer.

We're back in the march, around Green Park .We're all hoarse and we can't carry our banner any longer. A Hackney Turkish group comes up behind us, and sings the Internationale in their own language, A Union walks past and it has the words to the Internationale but we're to hoarse. And tired. 

We walk by some banks that have broken windows, but more often paint bombs, defended by worried policemen and policewomen. The Evening Standard reported that damage worth millions had been done. A few thousand maybe.

And then we're there.