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35 Thousand

March 28th, Saturday. Chilly, bright and clear am, heavy cold showers later.
Honour to those who in their lives are committed and guard their Thermoplyae. . . The G20 protest, peace march version. Stop bailing out the d***ed bankers, don't print money you idiot! Jobs, Green Recovery. A New Deal. Return to Victoria, walked down the river to Arundel St. where we collected our green hard hats from Avaaz and then hung about sightseeing for a while. Coot bobbing on the brown waves of the Thames, this is the King's Reach, dedicated as such 1935, nice bronze carp and so on by the river-steps. Memorial to the BN submarines killed in 2 World Wars. In the 1st they only got numbers (as they weren't expected to live long, maybe). In WW2 they got names. Spent some time helping an anarchist from Preston with his extremely frisky banner-bearing contraption, and who better than an anarchist to rely on the kindness of strangers. Off we go to Hyde Park, isn't the Queen Mary small, how great if we could get the rich back to the level where they'd fit inside, they'd still own as much as ever, but they'd need fewer golf courses. Hey, Faraday, hey all you bronze people, all you fine buildings, always something new to admire in this beautiful city.

A lot of EU and UK trade unions (and that's new), inevitable Socialist Workers and Communists of different stripes,the Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse, two brass bands, the drummers, beat boxes on bicycle trailers. Palestine and StopWar, and Don't Attack Iran, of course. Lot of fancy dress, the young faux capitalists were fun, except I felt the (f) members shd have been wearing spike heels, their trainers (running shoes, cousins) were giving them away, like that high-heeled nun in The Lady Vanishes, . Invitations to the illegal raves next week were offered; I sang the Internationale with the Italians, only in French as I don't know any Italian and the English lyrics are cr*p and don't scan. We got behind the 4 horses, and wondered what the slow-marching police front row was there for? To make the whole thing look more impressive? Were they joining in? They wouldn't be out of place on this one, not at all. Everybody's got a job, pension, supermarket bill on the line, and if you're if not P****d off by now (as one homemade placard had it), you haven't been paying attention. Most, about half I'd say, are under thirty (and that's new).

But it's a rag bag, as always, and I'm an odd sort of rag myself. I wonder if there's a single other person here is thinking the way I am, about caddis fly larvae creeping around the bed of a stream, in their cases made of grains of sand and tiny twigs. The sparrows, lost. Cuckoos and skylarks, blackcaps and songthrushes, the she-frog I took out of our tiny water feature, grey-green, healthy looking young creature, hiding her pointed snout between her splayed, fairytale-fingered forefeet. The candled tower of a horse chestnut in bloom, the great oak trees, I would rather die than live without these things, and it's only through them that I understand what's happening. There is no doubt in my mind that there's only one real problem, the NUMBERS, the awesome burden of human success. But the problem is also the place where we'll find the cure. I believe that too. So few, sighed Peter, sounding oddly like the Steward of Minas Tirith. Nothing like the crowd for that first Stop The War. . . Yeah, right, that freezing February, few weeks before I gave up being English: and what good did it do to be so many, eh? Like I've said in another context, we're the symptom, not the cause, and if critical mass is reached, it won't be down to us early warners. It will be down to the trouble itself: objective effects scary enough to get Middle England (etc, etc) behind the anarchists, the NVDA brigade like next week. All we need to do is wait until they're paddling around here, and get close enough to critical mass to scare our so-called leaders into seeing the light. Gordon Brown (not him, the next PM, obviously) will look at the Youtube record of torched fast food joints, torn up runways, fighting in the streets: listen to the media and the voters howling "those people have a point, d**n it!" and say to himself, my goodness! Of course we must take this chance we've been offered, by the collapse of the unbelievably stupid finance system! So far and no further, here we turn the tide. Here's where we save the future! The future of the living world and our own.

Nah. We're here because we're here. Either it's a way of life (the old guard, who really would come out to ANY demo), or it's the young guard, who are coming back next week: who are ready to go to prison, to get beaten up, tasered, even shot, to guard the Springs; or it's the timid frogs such as me and my friend here, who have been paying attention, who come out because they can't bear not to, because it's a brief respite from the scariness of life surrounded by the KFC, 4X4, Ryanair tendency (including of course the substantial vintage champagne, red carpets, weekend in the Maldives wing), who will never see that there's a problem. Hell, there's not much left outside the bunker but we got champagne synthesisers haven't we?

When we finally reached Hyde Park we listened for a short time to Tony Robinson, various worthies from the Flood Countries of the South, and is that Bianca Jagger? Ate our sandwiches& drank hot chocolate in the shelter of a big oak tree, by a Speakers' Corner kiosk (listening to anarchists mutter about Socialist Workers in their Nike and their Umbro, tuh); and headed off down by the Serpentine, blossom trees and birdsong in the cold, sudden rain.

Peter asked me, d'you think there's any famous sf writers here? (He's always hoping I know someone famous). I gave it some thought: Theoretically, yes, but I can't really picture it, protest marches are so pathetic. Sf mavs either think teatrays in the sky are the answer, or else they're sure it's just the current scare story, like Global War, City-eating Floods, Famine, Over-population, Epidemics, Mass Extinction, an annoying distraction or good copy; it's not real

Those hard hats an excellent innovation. They keep the rain off, are not so much hassle as a placard on a stick, and add a certain pleasing conformity to the view for the camerapersons.