Sunday, March 20, 2005

Stop the War 19th March 2005

Stop the War 19th March 2005

We attended the latest Stop the War demo in Central London yesterday. It was déjà vu all over again…

Stop the War 19th March 2005

Same War, same people, same placards, same slogans, same beards – beard after beard after beard.

The bearded man with his pet shrub and the placard saying ‘English Bush Harmless’ was on hand, as he always is, along with various people dressed up as Death, skeletons, George Bush and Tony Blair. I couldn’t tell if they were bearded or not. They had costumes on.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have sported a beard or two in my time and the demonstrators were clearly all well-meaning people, but you don’t fight War with pet pot plants, a vegetable-only diet and unkempt facial hair. The forces lined up against them have all the power, money, clean shaven meat-eating fighting men, killer instinct and black leather they need to get the job done.

Speaking personally, one of the biggest impediments to the success of the Anti-War movement is the way it has been associated with lots of other causes. This is a standard Left Wing dodge and was painfully evident throughout yesterday.

I am firmly against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is immoral and, morality aside, it doesn’t even serve the best interests of my country. Just because I am anti-war does not necessarily mean that I am pro Communist, believe that civil servants should have an inalienable right to indexed pensions or early retirement, think that ALL asylum seekers are saints or support the notion that Kurdistan, Trashkanistan or any other Stan should be given independence as an historical right. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t, but it’s got piss-all to do with the War and I, and presumably many others, don’t want our voice hijacked in support of these other causes. That tatty coalition of disparate, and sometimes contradictory, causes marching on the streets of London yesterday is going nowhere, slowly.

Tony Benn and George Galloway were in attendance, prattling away. A succession of speakers stood at the microphone and congratulated themselves and the marchers listening to them for turning up and scaring the warmongers with people power.

It wasn’t very convincing.

The weather was nice though.

A few things were different to usual. A guy I hadn’t seen before staggered along with a bright yellow industrial boom box and a small scrap of paper on which he had written ‘never forget we are all expendable’. Occasionally he would stop still, wobble a little and hold his piece of paper up for all to see. Sometimes he chose to lie down and hold his message up aloft like Excalibur. He was completely off his face on something, clearly writing from experience and totally expended. He continued to entertain us with his madcap and good-natured antics throughout the course of the day. Thanks mate.

And the police presence was larger than ever, particularly outside the US embassy. Forget about them actually doing anything, there were enough police on hand to foil a terrorist attack simply by absorbing the force of a bomb blast by sheer body mass. There were so many it was surreal. There was an unearthly hush around Grosvenor Square prior to the appearance of the march. It was almost as if passers by and onlookers had subconsciously decided to whisper and avoid any sudden movement, such was the palpable sense of copious force poised on a hairspring.

Actually, the police seemed to realise early on that the crowd from Rent a Riot weren’t coming out to play. Satisfied that the stiffest opposition they were likely to face came from a few thousand bearded lettuce-crunchers shuffling along Park Lane, they even started to look quite relaxed after a while. Unusually for such occasions, we even exchanged words with a couple and swapped some camera tips.

Well, standing around with several thousand colleagues in a pedestrianised Mayfair on a sunny afternoon beats dealing with knife-wielding nutters on the streets of Tottenham or Lambeth any day, doesn't it...


Ian said...

Quote here off the BBC website, where they said "'Do you trust politicians ?, send us your emails". One bloke said this:

"If Tony Blair walked into my office wet-through and said it was raining, I'd have to look out and check"

Anonymous said...

As we read your post, fingers are poised over the rewind button on the great history machine.

Not our fingers; the fingers of the fundamentalists and corporate owners; fingers that would take us back to ‘the good old days’.

So Saturday we celebrated John’s day:

“Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...”

For tomorrow it may be William’s day [again]:

“A little black thing among the snow:
Crying weep, weep, in notes of woe!
Where are thy father & mother? say?
They are both gone up to the church to pray.”

Interesting days, interesting times.

Stef said...

... as in that much quoted Chinese curse 'May you live in interesting times'?

I always thought it was quite ironic that JL was killed by someone for non religious, non nationalistic reasons. There be a few lines missing from that song methinks.

I'll take WB over JL every time.

PS Over the last week I have a) Dusted off some William Blake for the first time in over a decade, b) By chance (or was it?), came across Blake's grave site at Bunhills Cemetery. Unsurprisingly, people still leave flowers there. Not bad for someone who's been brown bread for almost 180 years ...

Anonymous said...

Today is Holy Thursday ...

"Is this a holy thing to see,
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak & bare.
And their ways are fill'd with thorns.
It is eternal winter there.

For where-e'er the sun does shine,
And where-e'er the rain does fall:
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall."

Holy Thursday
Songs of Experience
William Blake, 1794

For me, your images are the sun, the Internet provides the rain, so keep on blogging and we'll never hunger here.

Ya, some lines were missing ...

"You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one."

If someday you're near Bunhills again, I'd like to see a snap of Blake's headstone ... a true blogger he was.