I’ve been reading Laurie Penny’s (@PennyRed) account of Saturday’s TUC march on the New Statesman blog and I have to say it bares no relation to the march I went on. Warzone? Burning barricades? Young people?
Here’s the Midlife version:
We joined the march halfway through, physically and temporally, arriving at Charing Cross around 2pm (well, our son had to go to football training in the morning, plus we didn’t our molly-coddled kids whingeing about having to walk the whole distance). As we crossed Hungerford Bridge we were greeted with the stirring sight of a dense stream of protesters stretching right the way along the Embankment, from Blackfriars to Westminster.
The kids were looking as menacing as its possible for middle class south London kids to look: 7 year old in skinny jeans and black hoodie, 12 year old in leather jacket. Both with whistles. Us grown ups stuck with Uniqlo fine merino knitwear and Boden sunglasses.
Around us were seasoned marchers and trades unionists, as well as other lefty families having a nice day out in the west end while trying to politicise/educate their children (the speeches at the rally dovetailed quite nicely with the work my daughter’s been doing on Animal Farm).
My son’s political education so far has been mainly via Newsround which has been quite thorough in its reporting of recent events in Egypt and Libya, so naturally he’d assumed that there would at least be fighting, quite probably army tanks rolling in and a visit from William Hague. No wonder he didn’t want to go.
Aside from the amusing placards, eg this one I found on Twitter from @mia_out that I think sums up the sentiments of the part of the march I was on, or these rounded up by Creative Review there were also some great traditional banners from far-flung branches of arcane unions. One’s immediate thought was: nice appliqué work.
OK we saw a bit of bad behaviour such as someone swinging from the leg of Eros. An act of spontaneous radicalism to be applauded? No, the proper Midlife response is of course to stand with your hands on hips and shout in your best Mum voice: ‘Get off that NOW or you’ll break it! You’re just showing off to try to get on telly.’ And as for the paint all over the Santander cash points, well if I’d had my bottle of Cillit Bang handy…
Meanwhile I missed the 14 police vans that sped past on their way to whatever was going on at the Ritz (I was busy browsing the new tea scented fragrances in Jo Malone so was very distracted).
Rather than huddling round camp fires in Trafalgar Square, by dusk we were back home in time to get the kids fed and pj’d before the babysitter arrived and we could go to a party hosted by a retired TUC negotiator, where we huddle instead in their garden around a giant catering-standard paella pan sipping prosecco and swapping stories from the day (eg where was best to go to the loo, which children walked the furthest, how well organised it was, etc).
And we did get some police action; unfortunately it was happening at the end of our road behind incident tape as a team of forensics shone torches under a Renault Scenic which had had its window taken out by a drive-by shooting. (Luckily this time only the car got hurt.)
I’m sure we were once young and radical enough to think that doing things like occupying Fortnums was cool; these days the only amusing thing about it was the inevitable tweets declaring ‘proper tea is theft’.
Mmmm, nice appliqué work