Tuesday, September 03, 2002

AND FINALLY: IT'S MORAG V THE FASCISTS: Or rather, what happened when Morag went to the Love Music, Hate Racism day in Manchester on Sunday:
I wasn't exactly bursting with energy sunday morning and was pretty pissed off than I'd missed the march; but as luck would have it the bus incercepted it5 and I leapt off and joined in somewhere along oxford road. The turn out was pretty impressive; I'm guessing at least 5,000 and there's a lot to be said for chanting and waving banners. Of course whether or not it actually makes a difference is another matter and I could understand why Marie skulked off to the park somewhat embarrassed. But I think sometimes it's good to be idealistic and when you're up against BNP scumbags who like to pretend they represent the silent majority, well getting up and making a noise seems important.
A more serious concern for me was the relative hegemony of the crowd; not many faces that weren't white and rather smug looking. Of course I had the obligatory encounter with the SWP; why can't they see their semi religious fervour and knee jerk outrage is counter productive? Then, when we reached the park we faced the gauntlet of collections, petitions and book sellers; I felt under siege. Surely they'd have been better taking a more strategic approach rather than all thrusting madly at the crowd?
The carnival itself was helped along nicely by the glorious sunshine; tbh I saw so many old friends and felt so mellow I only paid scant regard to what was happening on stage. I had particularly wanted to see Miss Black America but somehow managed to miss them completely; the schedule unsurprisingly went out the window and I really couldn't tell you who we heard but it the kind of stuff you always hear at things like this.
I did catch Billy Bragg, well as much as was possible given the inevitable inadequate is in the sound quality. He started off with sexuality and a couple of the finer woody guthrie numbers, then there was a new song `it's all about the oil' which was possibly trite but very timely and went down brilliantly. These may be obvious truths but they still need voicing. However it quickly went downhill from there. He gave a long and well intentioned but muddleheaded and boring speech about the whole anglo hyphen saxon concept he keeps blethering on about. This included the assertion that there is no BNP or similar in Scotland or Wales. He then launched into that dreadful song `I eat vegetable curry at least once a week/ then the next day fry it up as bubble and squeak/ cos my appetites half english and I'm half englisg too.' This was followed by the abysmal `pull down the union jack' and a smart retort to some wanker in the crowd who gave a nazi salute.
Just when I was questioning why I still give Billy Bragg a place in my heart he sang an updated version of `waiting for the great leap forward' and ended with `a new england' which still brings a lump to my throat after all these years.
It was time then for more wandering; there was a couple of dance stages and some precictable stalls but by now I was wilting and craving a cool drink. Foolishly I went for a beer which failed to perk me up and instead induced sleepiness and a terrible craving for roast potatoes. There was no sign of Rachel and I didn't think I'd last though to the Doves without keeling over so I got the bus home; naturally the stop before my destination she called to say she'd arrived but with bags of regret there was no turning back for me.

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