Now, I’ve been trying to keep politics off the blog as much as possible – that’s fodder for my HuffPost posts – but this was a bona fide London event where toddlers were welcome. I’ve never taken the kids on a protest march – they’re whiney enough about walking anywhere, let alone walking for the sake of it – but this sounded like something they’d be OK with. A picnic in Green Park where we discuss the implications of Brexit and try to figure out a way to move forward. What a very English way to protest.
Obviously, we dressed for the occasion, with a loose kind of yellow-and-blue theme. Believe it or not, this is the most normal-looking photo I could get of the kids:
I said a loose theme, right? Here’s my attempt at EU-themed nail varnish:
I’m in no way artistic enough to do 1 star, let alone 12 stars. This was as good as it got.
We travelled to Green Park using a route prescribed by Reuben (I am so proud) and got there a few minutes early. No sign yet of a giant protest-picnic. Luckily, there was an air ambulance taking off to entertain the kids:
We were still early, but managed to find some other lost people with kids so sat down to start picnicking together. The stewards came over to say hello and tell us what was happening and gradually other people joined us. One particularly snarky article on the event called it a “houmous revolution” so I’m pleased to say our picnic-houmous made it into Getty Images:
Pity we can’t all agree on how to spell houmous though.
Obviously there were always going to be people who snarked at this picnic but it was a nice atmosphere – chatting with others who worried about Brexit and the various economic and political craziness that has since ensued. Some people were hardened campaigners; others were, like us, middle-class parents with lefty leanings who were dipping their toes in the political waters. But it was good to be there together with nothing dividing us. Oh except a big fence that someone erected:
That was odd. Surely we were together, #moreincommon etc…a windbreaker right through the middle of the picnic seemed divisive. Unless…could it be…a counter-picnic?
Yup, new one on me too. Apparently this is a thing now – when people stage a peaceful protest it is OK to stick your own protest right in the middle of that, with big posters and your own camera crew. I have been trying not to generalise about Leave voters and I know that many of them are totally tolerant, altruistic and lovely people…but this bunch of Leave voters did not do anything to make me warm to them. I mean, who sticks a fence up in the middle of someone else’s picnic? And as for stereotyping, well this lot stereotyped themselves. I shall say no more.
(Now, I should point out that I am being a tad hypocritical here, as we did indeed once hijack someone else’s protest. But that was different – it was to point out the hypocrisy of IDS turning up and sadfacing about parking restrictions when he had a whole load of benefit deaths he should probably be getting on with. Besides, we stood politely to the side while they had their photoshoot.)
Anyway, we tried to ignore the counter-protest and get on with the admin of the day – looking through a list of proposals and voting on which ones we thought would move things forward in the best way. The online poll is now closed, but you can have a look through here and see if you agree with any of the ideas. We agreed with some more than others but it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. It was also interesting to chat to the people we were sitting with – a 17-year-old who couldn’t vote but has her whole university career in jeopardy over the result, a mother who fears her child will be racially abused in this new climate, a small girl who knew a lot about the Octonauts. Reuben occasionally shouted out “Stay in Europe!” or regaled our new friends with facts about Scotland’s voting record. Boy is learning about politics and the Victoria Line. An afternoon well spent.
Plus, I finally found and used the Green Park station toilets. Big moment, I know. You go through the tickets barriers and straight forward (with the park exit on your left). After a while, you’ll be able to follow the smell. It was 50p for each child (and a big sign saying that children must pay) and I can’t say it felt like a pound’s worth of toilet visit. They were a little manky and a sign inside advertised the price as 6d. That I would have paid. Still, the walk across the park gave the kids the opportunity to find a massive stick and drag it back to the picnic area:
We’d spent a couple of hours protesting/eating homous but the thrills of wordsearch books and CBeebies app were starting to wear off. It was almost time to go, but first the kids wanted to see Buckingham Palace – Reuben explained that Eva was going to be a princess when she grew up, so she needed to know what a palace looked like. They are so anti-establishment, huh?
Then, it was time to further stick it to the man by paying an extortionate amount of money for ice cream:
My kind of protest, I tell ya…