Becca Jane St Clair

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Women’s March in London

I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit

On January 21 2017, the first day of Donald Trump’s Presidency, women-led marches, welcoming all participants took place across the world, with over 2 million (and counting!) global participants.

We marched for the protection of our fundamental human rights. I marched to remind Mr Trump that we exist, we are watching, and we will not let him take away our rights. I marched along with my sisters (and brothers) across the globe to remind the world that love trumps hate. We will not remain silent. We will not allow Mr Trump to take away rights for women, the LGBT family, or minorities.

I attended the march in London. There were many marches across the UK – some even in some of my favourite places to be – but I chose to attend the London march to march with some of my fellow ex-pat friends. At last count, they estimated 100,000 people participated in London alone….and the police only expected about 10,000. So given those numbers, you can imagine how crazy the event was. This led to me thinking the event wasn’t very organised, but after speaking with a friend who was part of the volunteer base, I found out that the problem actually was more people than they had planned for, but in my friend Bonnie’s words:

When a march greatly exceeds its expected size, the very fact that it strains the organised plans is a mark of success. Traffic is tied up, streets & rally points overflow, AND THAT MAKES THE CITY & COUNTRY TAKE NOTICE. It is a bit of bother for participants but it means you got your point across. So pat yourself on the back. You just launched a Movement!

Of course we will need to do things to keep this movement growing, and I am committing myself to making whatever difference I can, in the UK, US, and globally.

Same shit, different century*

I share in their sentiments.

My day started off early in the morning. Too early, in my opinion, but when you can catch a lift into town with your husband on early turn, you take it. Even if it means waking up at 0400 and arriving in town at 0530 and your train isn’t until 7! But that’s OK. I had plans to grab a coffee from wherever was opened and then sit in the warm waiting room in the station, which opens at 6 (the waiting room opens at 6. The station opens earlier for the 0526 train, but then you’d have to sit on the cold platform until they unlocked the waiting room). I wound up going to McDonald’s after noticing a distinct smell of oranges coming from my back.

I bought a coffee, grabbed a stack of napkins, and found a corner. As soon as I opened up my rucksack I saw the problem — my bottle of orange juice to go along with my packed breakfast had leaked…everywhere. Fortunately, I am a smart packer even for a day trip so everything inside my bag was inside bags (plastic or cloth) and my electronics (my kindle, selfie stick, and emergency charger) were all in a separate pocket. The item that really got the damage, which I ultimately threw away was an A5 sized make up bag from Accessorize I had bought on clearance for £2 (because it was damaged by missing a single bead!) last year. Inside the bag was some extra layering items in case it got colder. All the items inside the bag were fine as the bag absorbed most of the juice. The juice also got on the drawstring bag my butterfly twist flats are stored in and a folding shopping bag (I kept both of those). I also had some face wipes in my bag, so I used those to give the inside of the bag a quick clean, re-loaded, and headed over to the station. It was around 0630, but the London train was already on a platform so the guard let me board even though the lights were out. Fortunately, by dumb luck I picked an unreserved seat once the reservation signs lit up! I managed to sleep for part of the journey until about Nottingham when other people boarded and sat with me (I was at a table) and we chatted – including a girl who was also attending the march. We arrived into St Pancras a few minutes before 10, and I made a beeline for the toilets since I knew we wouldn’t have many opportunities for a loo once we were part of the crowd.

I arranged with my other friends coming down from the North that we would meet up at the Meeting Point at St Pancras, also known as The Lovers. It’s a huge statue of a couple embracing right in front of the Eurostar platforms (which are behind glass). It’s a relatively quiet spot too, so I knew we’d easily be able to meet up. People started trickling in, and we finally had our group by 11AM so we headed to the tube. Plans were to go as far as Oxford Street and then walk to Grosvenor Square from there as we knew it was going to be hectic.

What we hadn’t planned on was how hard it was going to be to keep 6 adults and 4 children (one in a pushchair) together, and we actually became separated with one child with us on a platform while mum and the other 3 had boarded a train! No worries, we just took her with her and kept her calm until we met up with her mum again at Oxford Street….where we joined massive, massive groups of people all with signs all with one purpose. Fortunately, several of us know the area pretty well and we knew to go down a different side street than everyone was being directed on….but we met with a wall of people just shy of Grosvenor Square!

Crowds at Grosvenor Square

The rest of our friends were “near the drums”, so we asked a volunteer how to get there and they directed us to use the pavement to get down to our friends, but we soon were blocked there as well. Two of our group managed to get through (though I don’t know if they ever found the rest of the group!), and the rest of us were stood on the opposite end of Grosvenor Square from the US embassy for at least a half hour. Probably longer now that I really think about it. At some point we got shoved around by people behind (obviously wanting to get moving) and the official march time start came and went. Chants of “We want to march” rang out, and my friends and I kept ourselves amused by looking at all the different signs people had brought. I pulled out my selfie stick to grab some pics of the crowd, as I knew this was the only way I was going to get any!

Eventually, a volunteer with a megaphone came near us followed by a motorcade of motorcycles and told us we needed to move, so we threaded our way through the taxis to a little slip….where we stood again for probably another half hour before we finally started to move! We got to the corner and people were being directed to march back towards the embassy building, but we headed straight instead and caught up with another section of the march further on.

We were finally on the move! But the crowds were still very large and it became harder and harder to keep our small group together. At one point, I got cut off from my friends and I thought I could see the hat of one of my friends, but it turned out not to be her and I was well and truly separated from them. I marched on, but I really needed a loo.

I got as far as the Hard Rock Cafe, and I decided that I would go use their loo, even if it meant that I had to get a table or go to the bar, but fortunately, they were allowing people who asked in to use their loo. I then walked a bit past the Hard Rock to try to find out where my friends had got to, but a police officer told me I needed to keep moving as “this wasn’t a stopping area”. Err…Ok.

I wound up on a quiet side street where I managed to get myself back in with the main march crowd, and I had hoped closer to where my friends were…..but then I soon gave up on finding them or getting through the crowd. Someone near me murmured that online it was reported that we had 50k (this figure later turned into 80k, then 100k as they realised how many were there). Someone else was loudly complaining that they didn’t understand what all these people were here for (I’m assuming they were a tourist and got swept up in the crowds by accident). I finally saw the Green Park tube station, and that was when I decided I was going to head back to King’s Cross as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to find my friends again, and it was already well past 1500. The rally was supposed to have started at 1400, and I knew if I didn’t make it back to KGX by 1830, I would have to wait until 2030, which would be the very last train that could get me home on a Saturday.

After looking at the National Rail app and talking to Tim, I decided to get something to eat and made plans to get on the 1630 Virgin East Coast train to Newark, and then onto Lincoln from there. I even made it home and was in bed before some of my friends made it out of London!

I’m really glad I went, I’m glad I was counted in the numbers demonstrating, and I would absolutely do it again if the need arises.

Artist remains anonymous, but gives her permission for her art to be shared/used.**


*I saw these ladies, but I did not take this picture. This picture was taken by Tara Rose. I just borrowed it for instagram (So this pic has been edited by me via Instagram).
**As stated in the caption, the artist wishes to remain anonymous, but has given her permission for others to use her art and to share her art. This image is not mine.

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