Anti-War March London Feb 2003
Yes, my wife and I were in the anti-war March in London yesterday. Did we want to make a political statement? Did we feel the need to profess our love for peace by marching through the steets of the capital to a rally in Hyde Park? Or did we have a dark hidden hatred for everything American, and were pro-Iraqi supporters? Lets examine the facts. Our involvement in the march covered an area of approx.10ft X 25ft............and lasted about 8.5secs. Basically, we were headed to a restaurant in central London on Saturday afternoon, and there was a bloody big trail of people in the way....lol....:)
But this wasn't just any old restaurant visit. This was our little Valentine's treat to ourselves. We went to The Texas Embassy , just off Trafalgar Square. The building used to be owned by the White Star shipping company whose passenger liner, the S.S. De Caprio, sank in a Martini when it struck an ice cube. And today it is an excellent Tex/Mex eatery, with huge glass windows, on the corner of a short road which looks out on the apex where two roads converge into one...............a good place to watch a march go by. And watch we did. And, spookily enough, the marchers watched us..............watching them. I think this was a good exercise in 'people watching'/psychology from both sides. The reaction to the restaurant, and the diners in it, from the passing masses, was quite frankly, bizarre. There were those people who were quite amazed that Texas had an embassy in London.....oh dear, how sad, never mind - it was cold, perhaps their brains were addled. But the majority of people fell into the following categories:
These first two reactions either resulted in people giving 'the finger' to the restaurant, and the diners in it (!), or giving the 'V' peace sign. I'll let you work out which goes with which. Naturally, there were also those people who who reacted like this - "I don't understand that building - I'll look away"- marvellous. I'll never really know why they looked away. It could have been.....
- "Look at those b*****ds in there..............it's nice and warm, and I'm freezing my b*****ks off out here!"
- "Look at those b*****ds in there..............they should be out here supporting us here!"
- an 'Amercian Thing'
- another 'US State Thing'
- an 'Architechture Thing'
- an aversion to glass windows..............is there an '...ology' for this?
- or perhaps there was a distaste for the English guy inside slowly supping a delicious tequila sunrise as they huddled past the window? Who knows...:).
The meal was superb. I strongly recommend a visit to The Texas Embassy at your first available oppurtunity. But the day was still young, and the march was slowly coming to an end at this point in London. They were all converging on Hyde Park for a sing-song etc...........maybe 100,000 marchmallows on a 100,000 forks around 10,000 campfires, (based on 10 people per fire, as laid out in 'Ye Olde Citye off Londone Ordinance 1653 - Parkes Dept.' - 'Thou shalt not set no more than 10 persons of sound age & constitution arounde a campfire within the boundaries of the Greater Citye off Londone' ..................). Although not all the marchers made it to Hyde Park. It was intersting to see how sheepish and coy they were when the approached the Texas Embassy to come in for a meal, and to get out of the cold. I mean, there's your principles aren't there...?......and then there's a nice hot Tex/Mex meal in a first class restaurant - regardless of the fact that it may be run by people from 'The Big Satan' etc. Commitment - that's what I like to see :)
So, given that all roads from around The Strand, Trafalgar Square, down to Westminister - and right along the Embankment to at least Tower Hill, were all closed off to traffic..............we decided to take in the afternoon air, (because there were no cars to pollute it!), and take a wander along the streets of London. Greater London Council, or whatever they are called now, were doing an excellent job in collecting the tonnes & tonnes of litter & debris strewn all over the streets. One trendy 'social analyst' - or some dick with a camera, who was filming a pile of rubbish that had a discarded placard on top of it, nearly got himself & his girlfriend, ran down by the garbage truck. And this wasn't the last time today that we saw 'love' stretched to the limits over his photographic hobby.
Later on, down by the Thames, as the strange evening sun caused 'interesting shadows' to be cast everywhere......................a guy was trying to instruct his girlfriend how to dismantle the tripod stand he had just used to take an arty photo with. As we approached, marvelling at the sights & sounds of a virtual empty London , there was one unmistakable sight which I saw - and he didn't. This was the sight of his girlfriend visualising inserting the tripod up as arse as he rattled on about F-stops and light meters.............ho hum :).
There were, obviously, many different organisations at the march. This was demonstrated by the amount of crap laid all over the streets. Would the most popular and beleviable orgainsations have less things laid around because people took them home to read?............er..........no. I think everybody who was involved in the event was represented in the shovel loads of waste being thrown onto the garbage trucks. And God knows how many trees were killed/mutilated/hacked to death in order to make all the little sticks for the signs? The guys from the Cleansing Dept were picking the posts/sticks up by the bundle load in their arms. I didn't see anybody shouting 'Save The Trees' here! Only one rant at a time I suppose...........weekend activists - no backbone for standing up for all the causes at the same time, eh?
We had a jolly old stroll from Westminister down to Tower Hill, along the 'River Path'. Sometimes on wide open pavements, and sometimes along tiny back alley ways, but always right by the river. It was very entertaining. And remember, the city was virtually empty here. We got talking to a policeman who explained that all the roads around Hyde Park and North London were blocked. The tracffic was being allowed over London, Waterloo, Blackfriars Bridges etc - just not down by the river. It was very peaceful. There couldn't have been more than two dozen people we saw on the 2 hours it took us to walk that stretch of the Thames. Think Omega Man - Charlton Heston, when he first comes out of the cinema, at the start of the movie, after watching Woodstock .............London was as abandoned as that.
Finally, we got to Tower Hill, and made our way up to Fenchurch Street station to get the train home. (One doesn't drive into London on 'Demo Days' unless one is a 'bloody tourist' or simply stupid!). And lo! There were, on the train, some bright young things who had been on the march. Crunched into four seats with their signs still with them. Obviously, they had thought about the trees and were probably going to get back to their student squat and re-plant the sticks............and in three, or four years time, after they graduated m(!), I'm sure they had great plans to trek back to The Amazon had bring the wilting twigs back to their original homeland.........or will they get evicted next month for not paying the rent? It's nice to see that long leather coats are still in fashion thanks to Mr Kayak Reeves - Superman's son. I never realised that they were so much into fashion back on Krypton.........mind you.........they'd probably would have had to strip two cows and sew them together to make a coat for Marilyn Brandy - his cross-dressing transvestite father. That's why you only saw him from his neck down in the first movie.
Anyway, these kids were sitting & chirping away about the day's events. One girl was quoting from one of the many flyers she had collected en route - I suppose they needed something for a fire when they got back to the squat. But one of the most memorable parts of the day for them, and which indicated to me the exact lack of long-term impact this march would have, was summarised by one of them like this.....
"Hey, did you remember that guy on top of the lampost with the tee shirt 'Smoke Dope Not Iraq'.........?"
- how was it for you?
More French ramblings coming soon, just thought you'd like a little news review from the UK on the London Anti-War march.