KEN TOWL, our non-resident rambler, went on a walk with a difference yesterday, on one of the biggest popular marches of this century, and in some very mixed company
The plan was to meet up with some colleagues from work, march with them from Park Lane to Parliament Square, listen to Chuka Umunna, Vince Cable and Anna Soubry, and then have a couple of pints in The Speaker, a pub not too close to the rally as to be packed and not so far away as to test our already tired feet.
We met at Green Park and took to the back streets of Mayfair to avoid the pressing throng, and find ourselves a good place somewhere in the middle of the march at the starting point along the side of Hyde Park.
I had read in the newspapers that 100,000 people were expected.
There certainly seemed to be more than the organisers had planned for, since we were spilling on to the pavement and into the park and weren’t able to start moving until after a couple of hours.
Later, in Parliament Square, Mariella Frostrup would announce that there were “officially” 700.000 people on the march, though the police “estimates” will probably halve that figure.
Judging by the variety of banners, placards and T-shirt slogans – some wittier than others – there were probably 700,000 different points of view over how Britain might get itself out of this mess of our own making. Though the police would probably halve that estimate.
Once the crowd started off, one of our party drifted ahead and messaged shortly after we had turned Hyde Park Corner that he was almost at Parliament Square. By the time I had got to The Ritz, I had lost the others and contented myself with shouting “Now!” whenever someone with a megaphone asked “When do we want it?”
It, of course, was a people’s vote, the chance to call a halt to this impossible and reckless national self-harm that we seem to be inflicting on ourselves.
The only dissenting voice I heard was along Whitehall, just by Banqueting House. There was a group of about 15 Brexiteers (though the police would probably halve that figure), who were shouting their, “You lost; get over it” mantra.
One of them, a scrawny-looking bloke, went a little further.
Responding to an (imagined, as far as I could make out) taunt that he was racist, his reply was, “You think I’m racist? I hate any cunt who is non-white.
“If that makes me racist, I don’t care. Water off a duck’s back!”
I thought I might take a photo of him but, when he saw the camera, he waddled off.
I suspect he is racist. At least a little bit.
There were so many people in Parliament Square that the body of the march halted in Whitehall and people were having to head back up and cut through to the river to get around.
I managed to hear the end of Anna Soubry’s rousing speech and Mariella Frostrup rounding the whole thing off with a rounded-up number. Then I headed for The Speaker, which turned out to be empty because it is closed until November 21.
Before the pub re-opens we might have more of an idea of what is going to happen to Brexit, though there do not appear to be any grounds for optimism, whatever your point of view.
If our political masters cannot make a decision, perhaps we will have to. After all, democracy is nothing to be scared of. Unless you are a scrawny little fascist with the empathy of a duck.
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