Remain a Star

By twelve midday, when I was still with my clients, Parliament Square was already awash with banners. Cyclists were circling the square (sic) to the accompaniment of Electric Dreams, a song I have never really liked, but from now on shall listen to with affection. My clients, from the US, were captivated. In particular as we made our way into and across Green Park they were stopping to photograph banners, deriving special pleasure from any deriding Trump. We were supposed to part company at Trafalgar Square, but they stood and watched as marchers moved slowly by, banners and placards held aloft. There were some real corkers, and I am so cross that I forgot to charge my camera battery last night. I’ve got a few pictures on my ‘phone which will have to do.

We all agreed we were witnessing history, I intended to join the march, and I really shouldn’t be surprised to learn they joined in too. Finally they left to get some lunch and I sat by a statue and ate the salad I had brought with me. The woman beside me was German and we chatted. I said I was hoping to meet some neighbours, one of who is also German. Texts suggested they might be some time, then they said they were on Pall Mall, and we fixed a rendezvous by the lions in the square. There was a French couple beside me, and once they had made friendly eye contact a conversation started between us. French is my second language, and it may sound silly, but marching to say I want to remain in the EU, it felt positive to be able to converse with these fellow Europeans in their language.

We enjoyed the placards, I did a little translation, we enjoyed the dogs who were amazingly relaxed; they commented on the good-humour, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere,the lack of police. They were particularly impressed by the number of fairly elderly people walking with mobility aids. Every time the crowd cheered, a ripple of sound that came from the back of the march and rolled along Piccadilly, down St James’ to Pall Mall and continued past us down Whitehall, I felt a lump in my throat. The French couple told me there couldn’t be a peaceful demonstration like this in Paris because the gilets jaunes would disrupt it with violence.
I acquired a sticker, but some people had gone all out and were dressed completely in blue and yellow. Some were pretty stylish. The French couple wished me, and by extension all on the march, good luck, we shook hands and I continued to wait for my friends. A bemused looking man came to stand beside me. What is this? he asked. It turned out he was from Mexico and had just arrived in London for a holiday. As I was talking to him, a familiar voice behind me claimed my attention, and there was my colleague Phil with his husband Mick. The next minute my neighbours appeared. We joined forces and started slowly moving towards Parliament Square. As Phil said it felt good to be part of this many people, to know others feel as we do that our future belongs with the EU.
I hope some of the banners and placards are being kept for posterity, that in years to come there will be exhibitions about these marches, and people will know about this day.
Since June 2016 there have been many times when I have felt ashamed of my country; the jingoism, xenophobia, racism and bigotry. Today I looked at people I was marching among and I felt proud to be part of them, to be part of this country. Whether we leave the EU or remain, it’s good to know these are my countrymen and women.


10 thoughts on “Remain a Star

    • Somehow I doubt if she will. But as the knives are out for her in her own party this weekend it may be that she is out of her job by tomorrow. Not that any of the prospective replacements look much better.

  1. I send you wishes for a good outcome. It sure is a mess and I understand how messy government can cause stress in our daily lives. I, too, have moments when I am proud but most of all I am proud of our journalists who are doing an excellent joy of keeping us informed. I am exhausted and I can’t imagine how they keep going, especially when they are constantly being derided.

    • I keep having stair rods in my neck, all down to this stuff. Unfortunately quite a few newspapers concentrate on misleading, and misinformation. Sarah Vine, who is married to Michael Gove MP wrote a piece claiming that pro Brexiteers would have been too terrified to go anywhere near yesterday’s march for fear of violence. This is such nonsense. I only saw one pro Brexit person, but apparently there were a few others, there was no violence towards him, no abuse, just people looking at him rather sadly.

    • I wondered if you might have been there too. I was tremendously uplifting, such a show of feeling. So today I am angry that following the march Jacob Rees-Mogg was at a summit meeting at Chequers. Where is democracy?

  2. I felt a lump in my throat just reading your words, Isobel. I went on the last march and felt surrounded by benevolent, nice people. It felt safe and *was* safe. Children, pets, people of all ages there without fear with a common aim. A wonderfully enormous testament to the will of the people.

    Well done you and every single other person who stood up to be counted. 💐

    • I was at the last march too but I felt the atmosphere was even better this time. I am angry that following the march Jacob Rees-Mogg was at a summit meeting at Chequers. The government seems determined to ignore peaceful protest and to court those extremists who threaten violence and mayhem if their views are not implemented.

      • Until now I would have thought it was impossible for them to ignore a million people on the streets and going towards 6 million signatures on the Revoke A50 petition? Yes they can, it seems, because all these people are civilised, quiet, respectful, law-abiding folk not causing trouble.

        If that million had been hell-bent on violence and mayhem, there would have been street battles, chaos, damage, arrests. It would have been *all* over the papers and certainly discussed in the House. Maybe this is why the French tend to make their protests rather loud and inconvenient for everyone…

        • I have been thinking along similar lines. It seems to me the authorities are so scared of what the ultra Leave campaigners migh do in the even of revoking Article 50 or even just holding a second referendum that they are hellbent on appeasing them, relying on the fact that Remainers wil remain (!) polite, peaceful etc.
          It reminds me why the WSPU came into being and began using civil disobedience and violence to make themselves heard.

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