I blogged about our plans to March on 26th, the threat to my job (here).
In true parent ‘fashion’ I spend Friday afternoon running round making sure every essential item was packed and all probabilities covered. Friday early evening I made endless sandwiches, packed raisins, biscuits, Haribos, crisps, waterproofs, babywipes (aka the kitchen sink)……. Finally, put Noo to bed, made a quick stir fry for me and Mr Noo opened a bottle of wine….just putting the DVD on. I pop up stairs, to a scene of devastation; one still sleeping boy and vomit everywhere. “Houston we have a problem”.
You know that moment when all your plans flash before your eyes as your shoving the first load of washing on and staring at the second and wondering at what #stupid o’clock will this get done. Was I back to “I wanted to change the world but I couldn’t find a babysitter?”
We’d planned to drive to London, a 300 mile round trip, two mums and I and our two kids, to attend the TUC organised demonstration on 26th March. We’d evening had a planning evening: Wine/Plan/Wine/Food/Wine, every detail covered (essential and recommended – planning evenings).
Noo, ‘Bless that child’. Didn’t throw up again. In true “comrade” style he was up at 5.30 ready for the day and our trip to London. At 8 am, we where on the road. “The animals went in two by two” spurring us on from the stereo. Endless snacks, books, magazines all to pave the journey South.
We negotiated the tube, juggling children, bags, buggy, scooter, picnic. Checked twitter decided not to join the March at Embankment, headed straight for Piccadilly. On the tube we met two Mental Health Social workers also heading for the March, their experience of money saving restructure, reapplication for their own jobs after year and years of service was depressing.
Rising from the Tube beside the iconic Eros, to be greeted by a sea of protesters young and old. Those not taking part applauding from the pavements, it was a very emotional moment. That “Yes! We made it” feeling! My son walked most of the length of Piccadilly. I am a very proud Mummy.
Hyde Park was packed, the atmosphere was one of a festival. I saw ambulance staff, teachers Unions, librarians, care workers, banners from Scotland, Devon and Cornwall. In the park we found the Woodcraft Folk Tent who had organised, as promised, activities for children. Listened to speeches from various people; Actors Union, Postal Union, Arts Council, representative of Black and Minority Workers. Denise Marshall who handed back her OBE in a protest to cuts to women’s refuges ( ). She spoke of closures to Women’s Refuges and Rape Crisis centres, projects to support women trafficked into the sex trade. I listened to many arguments and proposals for an alternative, ideas and statistics that made sense.
The protesters have been numbered at between a quarter and a half a million. People were still entering Hyde Park several hours after us. It was peaceful, good natured but concerned, concerned about the impact cuts. I was really heartened to see so many people with disabilities in the park many I’m sure are ‘service users’ who will be directly affected. It’s a good feeling to be part of something so huge, part of so many who made such an effort to attend. We were very proud to be part of it.
Being at the ‘front line’ I am already seeing the impact of the spending review on the poor and the marginalised and it really hasn’t yet begun to bite. I have felt really despairing. The March gave me hope, promise. I feel better knowing so many have the same concerns. I hope more people will realise there is an alternative and we are all ‘strands’ and together we make something stronger. Strength of feeling, hope and support are all positives to cling onto in the face of what lies ahead.
It was 10pm by the time we got home. I watched the news to discover our “good news” our “peaceful protest” our “record numbers” our POSITIVE HEADLINES. Had been robbed by the minority. You weren’t on our March. Shame on you.