Monday, 6 July 2009

London Pride 2009. Part 1

What an amazing and crazy day we had, brought on by not doing the stall in Soho as usual. Early in the day I had to go to The Edge Bar in Soho Square to put up flag decorations for them. When I arrived at about 10am barrels of beer and crates of drink were being unloaded and dropped into cellars and scaffolding was being erected by teams of workers. Because everyone was there before me I suddenly felt seriously late and under pressure to get ten flags on poles and three sets of bunting (as butchly and) strategically placed at various windows in time to leave to get to the front of the march. In theory there was plenty of time to do it but when flags started to get blown and get stuck on window ledges and the poles had to re done and stones stapled into the corners of the flags to weigh them down and withthe sun beating down, I began to feel more and more pressured....and sweaty...and there was still the bunting to be done! I dropped a pebble on a workers head (Oy!), cut my thumb, got more sweaty, got dirty and got in a panic when I'd finished the job when I thought my marching flags had been nicked. ''I'm sure they've just been put somewhere'' the manager said calmly. He was right I'd left them in their office! Grabbing them (untold flights of stairs) I washed my face in their sink and set of to the march.
Oxford St was calm and I waited for a bus with about thirty other people. None came. 'Are buses running today?' I asked. Everyone started to cluck, then one nice chap said he thought perhaps they weren't and we instinctively started walking together up Oxford St. He was going to the march too. As we chatted it turned out he was the lead singer with The Feeling! Dan. He set a good pace and then someone said they'd heard that the march was starting at 12.00 not 1pm! Dan said his Mum had said it was starting at 12.30 and angst set in as we thought we wouldn't make it. We grabbed rickshaw then abandoned it when it wanted to detour. Dan had to be at the front of the march to meet his Mum and Ian McKellern. His Mum was a keen gay Pride marcher and he said he'd been raised by two gay women. Cool. He also said he Pink Jack was iconic. Cooler. Official stewards started to appear and I asked one what time it started. 1.30pm they said. We relaxed and began to feel the excitement as we got closer to the start. Thank heaven we hadn't been met by the march coming at us head on!
We met Dan's mum and they headed off and I went to check out the march. Peter Tatchell was there and Paul Burston looking like a 1970's Black Power supporter in his tight, flat, black leather cap, dark aviator shades, bracelets and placard. I hung around at the front waiting for my mates, the excitemnet started to build. Peter was being interviewed by everyone and photographed with every passer by. The Homovision group tried to push to the front but stewards held them back, the polite calm started to change into inpolite political activism. Fab. It was almost 1 o'clock and whistles were blowing and people revving up to's the best feeling in the world , if you've never marched you just have to do it, it's fantastic. Suddenly Michael Cashman was standing next to me. 'Hello!' he said 'Hi' , I said. 'This is Sarah' he said 'Hi' I said. I'd just been introduced to Sarah Brown! I gave them all hand waving flags and then all of a sudden the march was off! We all shuffled forward and I looked for my mates and then there they were running to catch up. Thank heaven they'd arrived.
The march was mad, in front of us Sarah Brown and Michael Cashman and right behind us were the Big Wigs who lit up the whole parade making the crowd scream in excitement at their outrageous outfits. Camera's flashed, people shouted, blew whistles, waved flags, everyone smiling. We had four big PinkJack flags all flying together it was agreat visual and got lots of attention. The march kept stopping and at one pont The Big Wigs stood with Mrs B and Michael for a photo opportunity. We said that'd be the front page tomorrow and sure enough it was. I'd stuck a flag behind them so we got in the act too!
At one stop I met Angela Mason ex head of Stonewall. She said how good it was to have some pink back in the Union Jack.
As the march came to an end thoughts turned to Trafalgar Sq where I had to be to film Qboy on the main be cont'd

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