I’ll never forget Sunday 11th October 2011. I took my mum down to a demo to help save the NHS. We joined a bunch of activists from UK Uncut and occupied Westminster Bridge in protest. I got to sing Strike! Occupy! Resist! in front of the Houses of Parliament. Shame we didn’t take it apart brick by brick and set up group to run the country with decisions made by jazz hands amongst the ruins. But anyway, what bliss to be alive and all that.
“Why don’t you play a song?” someone suggested in my ear. I had my guitar on my back, and without thinking too much I got it out and started to play Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea.
Right at that moment, some of the Black Bloc started whistling along. So did some of the cops. Smiles came over people’s faces and they joined in. I stopped playing and look around. The whole place had gone from being at the verge of confrontation to being quite relaxed instead.
Then it occurred to me. I’d actually stopped a riot. By singing a song. The holy, mortifying shame of it.
I was reminded of something author Alex Haley said to Malcom X. He explained some people thought he was the “….the only Negro in America who could either start a race riot – or stop one.” To which Malcolm X replied: “I don’t know if I could start one. I don’t know if I’d want to stop one.” But I’d stopped one. What a crap revolutionary I turned out to be!
The worst bit about it all was the whole thing got live streamed, so somewhere on the interweb you can watch the whole thing. Eventually we were all allowed to leave and were photographed. It could have all been so different!
Good job no-one reads all this drivel otherwise I’d be really embarrassed. 🤣😂😇😉