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A Grand Day Out

April 1, 2019 12:00 AM

Yorkshire Flag on March (Salli Martlew)

I dithered until our local Peoples Vote group had sold all their bus seats to London for The Peoples March to Parliament on Saturday 23rd. March. Incredibly no more coaches were available for hire in our part of Yorkshire. But the Leeds group had just 18 seats left. London and back for £27.00!

Driving into Leeds at 06.15 a.m. I was surprised to see a pro brexit (I'd really rather not capitalise that awful bee word) electronic billboard. More surprised to see a big crowd by the station from where six charabancs wheeled us off south

Among the hand outs en route were Yorkshire song sheets with (perhaps) 25 very witty, clever takes on popular numbers. Thankfully we didn't commence singing practice until Lords Cricket Ground! For those that care the "beauty" song contest was won by a take on Ilkley Moor "Your brexit deal is crap".

Park Lane was closed to traffic, all 6 lanes. Incredibly I was given an unsolicited White Rose Yorkshire flag by a complete stranger with a broad London accent, just before I joined the several Yorkshire groups gathered as arranged in front of the Grosvenor House Hotel, easily seen by the many white rose flags swinging and swishing and a very loud Green Parakeet in a tree that no one else seemed to notice.

Encouraged by stewards we moved off to Hyde Park Corner, past a blockage for speech makers where poor crowd control created a bottleneck that ensured the end of the march for many. Along Piccadilly (the road y'know) going was slow but the huge crowd warmed to a fairly convincing Boris lookalike on the top step of a fancy Hotel. The three damn loud marching drumming bands and bagpipers also warmed our cockles nicely. To alleviate the long wait "Mexican Cheers" swept the crowd, sometimes prompted by the 2 or 3 helicopters above.

Peoples March Sticker (John Clayton)

Brought up in London, for me it was good to view some places at this unusually leisurely pace, Pall Mall, Athenium Club, Carlton Gardens and more. Some people enquired my flag,

including a man from Keighley who was ribbed by his friends for not knowing his own county flag. Trafalgar Square was decently full and I seemed to hear Sadiq Khan on a big screen on Whitehall mention "2.4 million" of us, Still, the fact of one million wasn't bad?

Past fortress Downing Street that few seemed to notice, regard or slow down to view, possibly due to the many police, those inside the barrier armed with rather nasty looking armament. To a boy of the 60's the sight of guns still worries me. Through to a packed College Green where Nicola Sturgeon, Michael Heseltine, Vince Cable, Tom Watson, actors from Derry Girls and many others speeched at us. This was the only place I saw any counter protestors, just two of them, one as glum as Dame Edna Everage's sidekick Madge, the other convinced we're leaving on March 29th. despite the well publicised postponement to brexit. Courageous men indeed, more gutsy than I would have been if so outnumbered.

My take on the demographic, it seemed more females than males, quite a young crowd, big on 14 to 30 year olds, some older people, and a good number of other European languages. Almost all were really good natured and chummy - despite the crush and poor progress in places. The only "street stall" on view was run by a man hoping to sell Donald Trump lavatory paper from a supermarket trolley. I saw no sales occur.

Scores of thousands of hand held posters, many home made and humourous were on show, "Grans against brexit", one stunningly hilarious, sadly unprintable here but my winner was "For Sale, walking boots hardly used, £50.00, phone, ask for Nigel".

London was utterly aware of our presence, many tube stations were "exit only", all the important streets mentioned above and several others were closed to traffic for many hours. Not surprising that I saw no other Wakefield Liberal Democrats despite several others being there, including Salli, her son Nick, Peter and Faye.

A really interesting day, the lady next to me on the coach had her hair dyed a fetching EuroBlue shade. Hopefully we made a difference and won't need to do this again? Certainly A Grand Day Out, spoiled only by needing to pay £27.00 to park my car - equal to our bus fare.

Finally, does anyone have a use for a metre square Yorkshire flag fixed to a three metre bamboo pole, like Nigel Farages walking boots, "hardly worn"?