26th March protest march yesterday. The reason I got up at the ungodly hour of 4am to take a 6 hr coach ride to the capital is that I fundamentally believe that the public sector cuts the government are imposing are driven out of ideology rather than necessity; that they disproportionally hit the weakest in our society the hardest; and I’m really fed up with being incredibly angry about it and feeling powerless to actually do anything.
What struck me the most was despite the small amount of violence which unsurprisingly got most of the mainstream media attention, the atmosphere for the four hours I was walking was kind of akin to a giant walking street party. There was several bands playing, people with others in costume (Robin Hood and Fat Cats being my favourites), parents with children in pushchairs, nurses dancing to the music provided portable PA systems set up on tricycles in Trafalgar Square. What was also really lovely were the people representing others who couldn’t physically be there, such as pensioners and the disabled. It was exhausting, but with that sense of camaraderie you get at big events when everyone is there for the same reason.
With a crowd this large, (400,000 – 500,000 most estimates agree) I had to give up trying to meeting up with the AIR group within about 10 minutes of arriving (they were about 2 hrs further along the designated route), but instead got to do the walk with a couple of other people coming down from Newcastle on the coach. This was great, because one of my favourite things is meeting interesting strangers and having intriguing conversations with them.
With everyone taking photographs, videoing and tweeting, I thought it would be interesting to record the demonstration another way – having just gotten back from the PVA residency, and just doing the final touches to the piece I made there, recording the sound seemed an obvious way to do it. I’ve tried to get different levels and details in what I was recording, from talking of the person next to me, the chants of groups of people, the waves of whistle and vuvuzelas being blown, to the brass band playing. My inability to walk very far today means I’ll be listening to these tomorrow in-between meetings and proposal writing, so I’ll be thinking of ways to use this audio then. If nothing else, I think it’s an important document to add to all the visual and written accounts of the event.