July 18, 2005 by cosmoakacitizensmith
it’s kind of disorientating, leaving one city and then being hundreds of miles away an hour or so later. i’m no frequent flier/jetsetter – gets me every time.
the plane was delayed. my m8 and i had a good laugh at this. maybe it was all a conspiracy. although this is all good natured joshing it is the first of the week’s many paranoid thoughts, and by the end of it all i wasn’t laughing, i can tell u……
cue a few swifties in the bar – because we can. even at 7am. and, oh, it is my m8’s birthday as well, but these days i don’t need too much bidding. the airport bar in the departure lounge is gearing up for the holiday season. it is selling booze like no tomorrow and it has a huge video screen to one side in an area which looks more like a nightclub, pumping out summery, breezey, cheesey pop videos to get u in the mood.
there were a few of the white t-shirt brigade waiting for our plane. these are fodder for the guardian/mirroristas “make poverty history” march. more of this nonsense later. they seemed to be relatively numerous, which was reassuring in a funny kind of way but almost as annoying as the summer holiday posse waiting for the off.
sitting guzzling beer and talking union politics. at seven in the morning. get a life!!!!
as we board the by now very delayed plane i am pulled to one side by a seemingly inocuous official and asked a few questions. not the first time i would be pulled from the crowd for looking disreputable. next time i go on a big action i am wearing designer clothes.
i manage to sleep during the flight.
edinburgh is sunny and happening when we arrive. on a bus ride through the town, the city is alive to the whole occasion. there are make poverty history banners and billboards everwhere, not to mention hordings on the bus advertising the coming of the g8 by various groups. many businesses are sporting banners. years ago organisations such as the g8 would meet in secret. now at least there is some kind of awareness of the score, as it were.
the other point to make, however, is that edinburgh looks like a city under siege. several of the big chain shops have boarded up windows. at first i thought this was because of high street closures but the more i see i realise this is like kansas in the wizard of oz preparing for the hurricane. baton down the hatches, there’s gonna be trouble.
interestingly, though, macdonalds and starbucks are immune form the whole thing. hmmm….
despite the early hour, it looks like the middle of the day in the city centre near the university. but the whole place is cordoned off, as police stake out the turf for the march and legal observers and stewards make themselves helpful to the assembled international masses on a mission to erm….. march round a city in order to get social justice. now that’s what i call evolution….(!)
i hook up with lots of mates. there’s a kind of freshness to the vibe, like a summer holiday of ne’er do wells. the city, like i say, is buzzing. round by the forrester cafe there is a sound system set up in the middle of the street and food and later booze begins to get served in abundance.
hooking up with mates and catching up with what’s been going on… suddenly the place is heaving with white shirted marchers everywhere. down a street, the socialist parties are selling papers, doing stalls and trying not to act like the peoples’ front of judea. i forget how big socialism is up here. there is even the scottish socialist party with seats in the parliament. more of them later.
leaflets are handed out on every conceivable global social justice issue. we’re assembled in a park near the university waiting for the off. the place is rammed to the roof …..er i mean sky. there is a tiny stage at one end where i hear texas hotting up for their appearance at the scottish live 8 on wednesday. wot larks!
of course, there’s another live 8 going on today in london and seven other cities around the world. oh, and a special one in the eden project in cornwall where all the african artists will appear. nice to know segregation is alive and well and kicking in the music biz. i’m sure george bush, who managed to see off a pro-democrat rock tour during the election with the likes of springsteen and REM, is shaking in his shoes. “fuck tony, not coldplay…….”
i’m having fun but i can’t take this march seriously. especially when i read in indymedia in an article explaining how african NGOs do not even recognise the authority of the g8. in fact, whenever u do hear african voices on the tv or radio they normally say things like “this is colonialism all over again.” good job there are none at live 8 today corrupting the minds of our youth. in fact……
after what is an age, the marchers finally leave the park and head off and link arms around the city. what a wonderful gesture(!) suddenly a flashpoint. a group of masked-up black block have been cordoned off into an area by the side of the march route by police. they are using section 60 legislation, similar to the law in england where they can do this if they believe trouble is about to happen. they have the power to keep you there for hours if necessary and only let u go one by one after a search.
it was a tactic they brought in to break up the reclaim the streets parties in london in the late 1990s.
by the time i reach it a samba band has struck up. they are wearing bizarre black and orange military uniforms and have a sound effects unit as part of their sonic arsenal. a vocalist wails over the noise in various languages as dancers from the band do quasi-military routines with guns cut out of wood. kind of public enemy gone latin.
the police have fenced the black block in. this is the first of various displays of power by both sides. the police are saying: “we know who you are, we know you want to kick off, and we’re in control.” black block are saying, funnily enough, “fuck you.”
after a days marching, sociualising and boozing it’s time to head out of town. there is a huge camp space called “the eco-village” up near stirling, right near the site of the william wallace monument, braveheart fans. i’m told it’s like a mini free festival/action headquarters.
time to get rural.