marches and protests (2005-07-03 - 7:17 p.m.)
Edinburgh has battened down the hatches, holy crap! It's unbelievable. I just spent half an hour trying to get from Waverley across the street to the Rose St Sainsbury's (about a two-minute walk). The whole street was closed off with barriers for an anti-war protest and there were policemen BLANKETING the street. As I came out of Waverley Station I counted twenty, and a furthur 12 - 15 per street corner plus a couple every few feet, plus backup in the 10 or so police cars per street, plus a couple on horseback. Whew. So this is what a police state feels like. On the plus side they are all being very good, not pushy or aggressive, just THERE. They are taking, the newspaper said, a "Softly, softly" approach. Just as well, as that should cut down on any trouble. Nobody likes being pushed around by police.
The stores along Princes Street, bizarrely, have mostly boarded up their windows. It has to be seen to be believed. Rows of stores with plywood where their windows should be, plastered with signs saying, "We're still open! Business as usual! Come shop even though we look like we're expecting a nuclear attack!" I think it reeks of paranoia, but then apparently tomorrow has been dubbed "Anarchy Day", so who knows what'll happen then. I'll miss it all anyway, being stuck out in Corstorphine.
Speaking of which, we are taking strong measures as well. Nobody is allowed into the building under any circumstances without their ID (which I keep forgetting, but usually the nice lady at the desk gives me a temporary one). If you don't have it, you stay outside while they "verify your identity". No matter that she knows everyone who works there by sight... They will be locking the back door, making everyone get special parking passes, guarding the elevators... pretty odd, as who's going to attack the Forestry Commission?! But not as bad as Brad's work. They've forbidden him from coming in at all and he's working at home Monday and Wednesday. Lucky rat.
I went to the Make Poverty History march yesterday. It was really impressive! More than 225 000 people, apparently. I went with Andrew, and unfortunately we managed to get into the queue that was last to march. We waited from 12 till 1:30 and then I had to go find some food (I was a little tired from Canada Day the night before, shall we say!) By the time we got back in the queue, we were at the end and had to wait ANOTHER hour and half to finally go. It turned out to be 3:30 by the time we actually left, which sucked. But the march was brilliant. There were all the usual sort of dreadlocked career protestors, but they were in the minority. It was mostly grannies and people with little kids and ordinary-looking people wearing white and carrying placards. It was pretty inspiring, especially from the top of the Mound where you could see a ribbon of white stretching downwards and across the city. They even had a Make Poverty History banner on Edinburgh Castle! Besides the people marching, everyone who lived along the route was hanging out their windows with banners as well.
There were police all over that too, but again they didn't give anyone trouble. It sucked being stuck behind the barriers for so long, but it was a really nice day and a good cause. I don't know if protests make any difference at all, but if all those 225 000 people use their vote than maybe the politicians will take notice. Well, it could happen!
There were also things going on at stages around the park. They showed parts of Live 8 from various countries, and I got to see good old Billy Bragg (who probably shows up to most protests!) I'm really glad I got out of bed for that. I think this is an issue that is really important to a lot of people.
Most amusing incident of the day:
Then this lady besides us gets a call on her mobile. She's trying to tell her friend where she's standing. "Are there any landmarks near me? Um... well, there's two lads up a tree... and a lamppost." I was amused.
And of course Canada Day was Friday. My attempt at cookie-making did NOT go well. We have measuring spoons but not cups, so I was estimating based on pint glasses. Possibly not the best method and out of three batches, the last half of the last one sort of resembled something edible.
However, the celebrations were fun. There was a party at Jen, Kelly, Lindsay and Shannon's house (yes, they all live there now!) Everyone was kitted out in maple leaves and loads of red and white. We hung out there for a while and then headed to the Globe, which was meant to be a Canada Day party. It sort of was, in that there was £1 bottles of Labatts (ew.) But there were a few other Canadians there and it was a pretty fun night. The next day was a trial, though, having to be up relatively early for the march.
So we will see what happens tomorrow and for the next few days leading up to the summit. Should be interesting...
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