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Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Lost Weekend

All good stories apparently require a beginning, a middle and an end.
I'm never sure if that should be slavishly adhered to, but for today I'm going to go with that and take you all back to Friday morning.

The beginning.

I woke when Kelly did.
It was around 6.45 am and once awake I very often fail to drift back into the embrace of sleep.
So I lay there looking at the cracks in the ceiling considering what I had to do in the day ahead.
The first thing was a trip to Glasgow to drop off Evening Hymns tickets, get some posters printed and distributed, and then drop off some flyers to Pivo Pivo.
Then after that I would have to hot tail it back to Kilmarnock to accompany my daughter to an appointment that she had.
Once the evening meal was done and dusted the plan was to grab an hour or two of sleep before I then had to head out to do a twelve hour waking night-shift.
My thoughts then took me to the next day.
On my return from work I would snatch two hours sleep, and then Kelly and myself would meet Robbie and Angie for us all to return to Glasgow and participate in the Anti-Bedroom tax march.

As usually plans often seem to be made to be then cast aside.
I made it to Glasgow, covered the printing, distributing of posters and flyers and left the tickets with Tickets Scotland and made it back in time for my daughters appointment without any real hassle.
In an era of mind blowing technologically advancements my day had run like clockwork.
Until we arrived at our appointment to find that it had been postponed with nary a consideration to informing us.
A tad annoying, but what can you do?
I wasn't to know it at the time, but in hindsight this is when everything began to unravel.
There was no chance to get my head down before my shift at all and by the time I returned home from it I would have been awake for twenty six hours straight.

Fast forward to that point.

The middle.

Shattered I slipped into bed, but sleep was not initially welcoming.
By the time I managed to quieten all the random thoughts in my head and slip off I would roughly say that I had an hour of sleep.
As my feet hit the bedroom floor and I staggered to the bathroom the last thing I wanted to do was go to Glasgow.
My back ached, a headache was forming and over all exhaustion was nipping at my heels and trying to bring me down.
So why didn't I just succumb and fall back into the heat of my bed?

The answer is that I don't lean towards talking the talk, and I'll admit that I partially egotistically pride myself on walking the walk.
In this case quite literally.

The first obstacle to our participation was thrown into our path by network rail.
Easter Saturday is apparently the perfect day to begin engineering work on the tracks.
Our train would take us as far as Barrhead and then we would be travelling by bus to the city centre.
This threw the timing out completely and Kelly and myself resigned ourselves to missing the start of the march, although we would still manage to join it and catch the rally in George square.
So once we embarked from our bus we speed walked towards Glasgow Green and joined the march as it snaked into the city proper.

There was a healthy turn out.
A very impressive start to the day for us.
I'll not hazard a guess about numbers, but it will be approximately double what the police say and half what the organizers claim.
That's always been the way of it.
There was a tremendous buzz about being part of something like this.
On most days I find myself taking a stance against horrible levels of apathy and participating in the march allowed the old batteries to be charged again.
It's hard to consider yourself to be alone when there are these large public expressions of opposition.

However once we reached George Square everything began to fall apart for me.
Robbie, Angie, Kelly and myself managed to get right down the front to hear the speakers, but in hindsight I wish I had just left the march at that time and told myself that I had already went above and beyond the call of duty by actually attending, but no, instead I stood there and listened and watched as every single failing of Scottish protest politics was given a platform to make an arse of itself from.

There was no physical platform so unless you were at the front you wouldn't have seen anything, but that's okay as no one one there to see the message, but to hear it.
Scratch that.
The PA didn't work, then it did, then it didn't, then it did and.......well you get the idea.
Between passing the microphone the speakers played pass the megaphone.
I have no idea how many people could hear what was being said, but beyond twenty to thirty feet from the front the people drifting off sort of said it all.

Of course there can always be technical problems, but there should also be plan Bs to.

All the hard work that the organizers had undoubtedly put into the day will be forgotten and in the main people will remember not being able to hear, or see, anything in George square.
For the next god knows how long it was farcical.
Some very relevant and passionate speakers words were left to fall like confetti at their feet, and to be horribly frank there were some speakers whose style of ranting should be left in the pub.
One of two things that left me holding my head in my hands wondering what the fuck was going on was the 'Master of Ceremonies' style of introducing speakers.
A political rally was sounding more like a Radio Clyde pop extravaganza.
Let me hear it for (insert guest speakere here)........put your hands in the air.............lets hear it for the people at the back who canny hear etc etc.
Then the other thing was a minority of the speakers doing similar by shouting soundbites to get a reaction.
At any second I expected to hear one make an attempt to split the crowd into two and have them participate in a sing off.
Everyone on the right (not politically) say hey, everybody on the left say ho.
Ugliest moment of the day was when some people to the side of the guest speakers counter protested with shouts of 'liar' and 'shame' at one specific guest.
Not that this was the ugly part, but the admonishments from MC Proletariat and her supporters was the ugly bit.
Here were people all around waving placards proclaiming that protest should not be made illegal, and then we were hearing an attempt to silence a very small portion of the crowd.
Oh the irony.
Now I have no idea who these people were, or what their problem was.
It's entirely possible that I would one hundred percent disagree with their stance, but if we silence one portion of society what path are we walking down?
Volunteers who were there to manage the event were very quick to head n their direction to remove them, or silence them.
This isn't something that I am comfortable with and those around me who I don't know strongly agree with my loud opposition to them being silenced.
Apart from attempting to disallow them to have a voice there was also a dangerous aspect to outing them from the stage.
Here we had a crowd in the thousands, a crowd of unhappy people who to an extent want to release the tension they feel, and then we have their focus directed to a very small minority of malcontent voices.
Who would have slept easy that night if these individuals were sent home bleeding?
Not me.

Who cares though?

I'm sure this morning anyone expressing any concern about that will be drowned out by the thunderous noise of mutual back slapping.

The end.

Now I know people will claim that I am focusing on the negative and can't see the wider picture.
That's their prerogative.
What I took from yesterday was that in the main people are supportive of abolishing the bedroom tax, that some individuals involved in the campaign are passionately pushing for this - and doing so in a laudable and courageous manner - and that people power is alive and well.
Unfortunately it was also confirmed for me that Scottish politics will always carry the amateur hour comparisons with it, even at a grass roots level.

If the wider world were watching then I am glad that they will in the main see crowds of people and weren't there to witness what a bag o' shite it often dropped to the level of.

Really Scotland. 
Is this the best we can do?

Apologies to Edinburgh and the other cities involved.
I sincerely hope that the voices of the people were heard with more clarity at your rallies.

So the end of the tale is that I stepped through my door at 8.45pm after a nightmare journey home that was organized by network rail, and I am left wondering if one hours sleep in fifty was really worth it.
I'll not be giving up the fight against this unjust tax, but if the game is upped then maybe next time as just a punter from the streets I will not be left so disillusioned.

PS. The fella from the Black Triangle was a credit to the his organization and he provided what was one of the very few highlights.  

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