My tweet read: "So that my grandchildren will not have to experience the same lifestyles my grandparents had". OK, not the best grammar but 140 characters and spaces desires compromise and the sentiment was more important. Amongst the replies I received was one from an Oxford undergrad [alleged] who suggested: "do you know how ridiculous that sounds, and how little economic sense it makes?" Obviously no ex-lecturer likes to be called ridiculous by an under-grad. And that sort of remark would have my family ducking because they know how much I would savour a [pacifist] scrap like this! So I rose to the bait and retorted: "I am 60.* My grandparents did not have NHS, uni education, social security, pension. My grandchildren are facing the same. Ridiculous?" [I have added in punctuation because I can only bear so much] *I don't look it
Two more 'flurries' resulted: Undergrad: "show me where govt says it will abolish the nhs, uni education, social security and pensions. Then I'll withdraw my comment." Me: "Oh pedantic one that's why we are marching! To make sure these RIGHTS for which my grandparents worked are not destroyed/lost" **
For whatever reason that was the last I heard from my interlocutor. But this exchange illustrates why I and so many hundreds of thousands of others were marching through London yesterday - from fear not only of what we ourselves may be losing but of what the future generations may never have.
Anyway, the march was a fantastic time [the violence away from the main events will be discussed later] - its just such a shame that it needed something as drastic as the actions of this Government to bring us all together. The crowd was peaceful and happy and friendly. Other Half and I had lots of friends marching throughout the gathering - of course none of us got to meet up in the 'swell' of humanity, but all of us were friends. To paraphrase [badly] Wordsworth:
Upon our side, we who were strong in right! Bliss was it on that day to be there!/em>
So many were marching - not just from all the unions and political groupings but actor unions, muscians unions, Liverpool Football supporters, climate change activists - even pensioners' groups. Celebrities [Tony Robinson was one of the march leaders] , off duty police officers and many, many more. Brass Bands, Steel bands, Bagpipes. Trade Union and Political Party Banners. Families with young children. Heartbreaking to see so many disabled activists who felt they had to take part and protest to save their living standards.
Along Oxford Street there were 'alternative' venues including actors Sam and Timothy West 'doing' impromptu play readings; comedians Josie Long and Mark Thomas 'doing' stand-up; music; poetry readings and more. Fortnum & Mason's in Regent Street was occupied by peaceful protestors who were singing and poetry reading.
Of course I can't ignore the nasty scenes in Regent Street during the afternoon. Violence is abhorrent, but I can also only regret that the media seemed to give far more attention in proportion to the very, very few violent yobs who had nothing to do with the far greater majority of the marchers.
I had spoken to a policeman on Regent Street BEFORE the march and he said they were expecting violence. There were so many policeman around Oxford Circus and along Regent Street before the march started, very many more than I saw in total along the route of the march and at the end of the march yet the violent ones were still 'allowed' to take hold*. These few [in terms of the mass of protestors in London on the day] attacked Fortnum and Mason's from the outside and had NO LINKS with the peaceful protestors inside. And worse, the PEACEFUL #UKuncut protestors inside Fortnum's were arrested after being told they were free to leave. I think it is important that questions should be asked about some of the police strategies yesterday. I really hope however that the policeman we saw injured on the news last night is not badly hurt and that those responsible have been caught.
Addition 28th January *According to a guest on Radio 4's Today programme on 28th January, Dr Alan Finlayson [Swansea Uni's reader in politics] those responsible for the violence were most probably from a 'black bloc'. To hear this interview go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/new... To read more about a 'black bloc' go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_bloc
As someone remarked to me today - at any large event there are always trouble makers - usually nothing to do with the main event - just those who turn up, be it at a football match, rock festival, demo to cause trouble. The media concentrating on them makes them more eager to do such acts in future.
The photograph above shows a marcher just before she set off, trying to make sense of a map. I believe she was last seen wandering around Camden Lock. If anyone finds her please report to me, she is my twin sister Clarice.
**At the same time as the 'undergrad discussion' I was also having a really interesting lingusistic discussion with another tweeter. I love twitter!