A Long Short Walk for Jam Tomorrow

BOOTS clump impatiently as I gaze out across the river. The morning sun warms roofs and glints on the windows of strange buildings and big red buses. A few hard miles lie before me. I know they’re hard because I’ve tramped them before, most recently in March 2003 with half a million others who were less than happy about the impending war against Iraq; the time before that in November 1992, in pouring rain, with the miners and their billowing banners; and the first time in March 1990 against the poll tax – though on that occasion we started on the south side of the Thames and got chased out of Trafalgar Square by a load of unhappy policemen.

It’s a good day for a hike. I’ve got my sandwiches, a bottle of water, a map with strange coloured lines on it and exotic words such as Monument, Mile End and Mornington Crescent, a wife wearing unsuitable shoes, a noisy whistle I’ve just purchased for a quid, a Billy Bragg T-shirt from his Gateshead gig in 2006, and a colourful flag courtesy of the TUC – of a type suitable for planting on the summit of a mountain or up a banker’s backside.

I’m not going to lecture or bore anyone with a load of stuff about the poor paying for the greed of the rich with their jobs, homes, marriages and futures, because you have your own opinion on that and you’ve probably heard and read enough about the TUC rally in London to last a lifetime. Most governments promise jam tomorrow, but this one’s selling dry bread and clawing it back from the most needy – so that’s why I’m here in my walking boots.

All I will say is that the couple of miles from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park – through Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and the posh bits by the Ritz – is the hardest slog in the world because it is accomplished at an average speed of less than one mile an hour and there is nowhere to sit and have a brew. Ben More direct from the Crianlarich road is an easier excursion.

Oh, yes, there is another thing I’m going to mention – the bit about the trouble that flared up in Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square that the BBC and Sky News failed to report in their extensive coverage.

Global news organisations can plant reporters in Tahrir Square, Benghazi, Sana’a and Bahrain and beam in-depth coverage to the world – but when a band of teenagers with pink hair and behavioural problems chuck paint bombs at Top Shop, Vodafone and Boots the Chemist on the streets of London, no one thinks to ask them why they are doing it. No one in the media asked them the simple question: Why?

The answer, if you don’t know by now, is tax avoidance. Vodafone is accused of dodging £6bn in tax, Top Shop £300m, and Boots £100m a year – and the government, like the nearby Nelson, is turning a blind eye. That’s why those kids were angry. They’d been told we’re all in this together. But a form of collective denial set in among my colleagues in the broadcasting media and the words “tax” and “avoidance” failed to make it onto the airwaves. So there IS plenty of jam, apparently. But it’s up on the top shelf out of our reach.

So, four hours later, we finally reach Hyde Park just in time to catch Brendan Barber thank the speakers. Another good walk comes to an end. And I’ve managed to hang on to my extremely colourful TUC flag. Now I just need somewhere appropriate to stick it.

We start the march with the NUJ and Bectu. But the actors’ union, Equity, and the Musicians Union, who are positioned directly ahead of us, are much more fun and have a jazz band. So we switch allegiances.

The NUJ, Bectu, the Musicians Union and Equity jostle for position at the start of the march. Equity look like they are the winners. But there again they might just be acting

It’s always reassuring to know you’re on the same side as the Gurkhas

Twenty-four hours later, Scotland fans feeling dejected after their game against Brazil look around Trafalgar Square and wonder what’s been going on

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About McFadzean

Alen McFadzean, journalist, formerly of the Northern Echo, in Darlington, and the North-West Evening Mail, Barrow. Former shipyard electrician. Former quarryman and tunneller. Climbs mountains and runs long distances to make life harder. Gravitates to the left in politics just to make life harder still. Now lives in Orgiva, Spain.
This entry was posted in Hiking, Life, Mountains, Politics, Ranting, Uncategorized, Walking. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Long Short Walk for Jam Tomorrow

  1. john arnison says:

    Dyslexia ! I read the call time on the Condems as call time on the condoms talking of which have you got your Royal wedding condoms yet!!Hope you are thanks for these amazing photos

    John

    Like

    • McEff says:

      Hi John. Coming from a professional photographer that’s a compliment indeed. And no, I haven’t bought the royal wedding condoms yet. But I might get a couple of packets because I’ve heard they’re good for starting your runner beans off in if you fill them with compost first. Cheers.

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  2. Greg says:

    The trouble is they seem to own the media. The lads at my work get the Mail and Express and according to them its dole scroungers, immigration and the Eu that got us into this and not the billions we have had to pay out to the banks. That message doesnt seem to come through.
    There are farmers in this village who put up placards in fields to vote conservative at the last election despite some of them becoming very wealthy from the foot and mouth compensation given to them by Labour.

    Like

    • McEff says:

      Hi Greg. The Daily Mail should be printed with a health warning of the type printed on cigarette packets: “This newspaper supported Hitler right through the 1930s.” And the Express is just a joke. The trouble is, people believe the poison they read in them.

      Like

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