Birmingham March For The Alternative – Gherkin Report.
It was an early start for me and my little family today. We were up, organised and on the train to Birmingham for 9.45am. That’s something of an achievement for us. On a normal day it can take till 12 to be organised for anything beyond the school run (even that can be a close call sometimes).
So, after weeks of planning, placard making and t shirt painting we were on our way.
The train was very crowded, so when my youngest children, who are 2yrs and 3yrs old took their coats off to reveal their t shirts it raised a few eyebrows.
Not to mention the reaction we got to our home made placard.
Anyway, we arrived in Birmingham at 11am. One stiff coffee later and we were ready to walk to the assembly point.
We met some lovely people on that short walk to Granville Street. Some trade unionists from PCS and the sellers on the Socialist Party stalls. One actually knew some people from the anti cuts group we were representing today – Nuneaton Against The Cuts- and sent his best wishes to us all.
We handed out the biscuits to the kids and the march began.
The most amusing moment was when my 2yr old son spotted all the police officers in front of us and simply said “uh oh!”
The eeriest feeling was when I looked up, banner in one hand, 2yr old daughter in the other, to see a police officer filming us. I had to explain to my 12yr old who they were, what they were doing and why, in the most neutral way possible. I didn’t enjoy that.
There were lots of chants, my favourite was “Nick Clegg, shame on you. Shame on you for turning blue”. I may have heard it before on TV and said it myself at home but it’s a completely different experience saying it out loud, at the top of your voice in the street with thousands of other people. Exhilirating and quite emotional, in the sense of thinking about what the coalition are doing to us all and how many lives they have already destroyed.
We met some very nice trade unionists, anti cuts activists, and I met a twitter friend too. I wish I could have met some others who were there today.
My 2yr old was chanting and started dancing on her daddys shoulders at one point. The kids t shirts got a good response from others on the march and members of the public walking past or watching from the street. My 12yr old daughter got into the swing of things, after her initial doubts (usual talk of ‘embarassing’ ‘what if someone I know sees me’ etc) and was holding our banner proudly after a few minutes, chatting away to people she would never have had the pleasure of meeting otherwise.
When the march was finished we stayed for the rally and heard speeches from various people, including Mark Sawotka, someone from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) who’s speech was truely inspiring, and some others who’s names I cannot remember. While I was listening to the speeches my children were playing with other children and throroughly enjoying themselves, unaware of the fight we are all fighting for their futures.
When all the speeches were done we decided to make our way home. With tired feet and hungry tummies we walked to the train station and set off home with the promise of sweeties and dinner. My 3yr old son insisted on blowing the whistle he was given by the NUT stall all the way home, much to the annoyance of the other passengers.
Today was a great introduction to demonstrating and protest for me and my kids. It was a calm, friendly march and I’m very much looking forward to attending the March Against The Tories in Manchester on 2nd October.
I will leave you with the rest of the photos I took today.