8 years ago I was in the centre of Edinburgh documenting the Make Poverty History rally. As the G8 met over 200,000 people took to the streets to demand that the debt was dropped, more and better aid was received and that trading was fair.
My good friend Terence Payen came along with me as he produced the short film we made on the event. The day we returned he wrote a blog post about his experiences of the day. I thought this would be a great time to post it… So here it is:
So it’s bloody early for a Friday!
Pack bag for the fifth time as I am a total freak when it comes to packing; do not want to forget anything you see.
As it turned out forgot a lot.
Get Car from Jim Melia in Leominster, Try to explain what Carl is doing but his head is somewhere else. However he does nod and grin in all the right places so he can’t be that bad, (Still… when you talk to some one you do expect them to listen, even if it is total bollocks and they think that you are talking out your arse.
Drive away thinking…
Shit, it’s a Skoda.
Go to Carl’s house to pick him up, He hasa mean packed lunch, however not enough pickle.
Don’t really know what the fuck I am doing on this trip???????????? (But I did buy the white band from Oxfam, so at least I look the part.)
In the Car,
Made it to Wolverhampton,
Now when I drive I expect the road signs to have my name on them, and to know where I am going and to at least say where the hell I am. But No. End up driving up and down the same bit of road for ½ hour trying to find the right fucking way, Shit.
Still trying to look cool.
Make it to Scotland, well the M74, just got to find junction 13, the A702 all the way in, EASY.
By the time we reach junction 10, I am feeling a bit sweaty as I seem to have lost a whole road. (By this time we had all ready been in the car for 6 hours)
Not my Fault
Driven 2 hours past where I am supposed to turn off. (Crap)
Carl does his best not to piss him self laughing, but I can tell.
Take a lovely drive through the Scottish country side; get stuck behind some arsehole in a tractor.
Looking at the houses you can see why the jocks are such grumpy turds, what hovels they are – concrete boxes, fucking dreadful.
Finally get to edddie
Just got to find the B&B.
Takes another hour.
Get there – have a shower – get changed.
Decide to walk in as Carl has seen several banners that he wants to film. Walk through the seediest part of eddie – hundreds of pub’s full of pissed Scots that you wouldn’t be able to understand if they were sober!
Get to the middle……………. we think…….HA.
Stop to ask some one for directions, another ½ hour they say! TAXI comes the cry.
The taxi driver is a complete moron, can Not understand a thing he is saying so turn me brain off and just nod, grin and say no in all the right places, (Gift to have that ability).
Start walking across the Meadows, Feel a bit excited by now, Can not really say why, but already feel part of something, Have no idea what, but a part of something.
There seems to be a lot of hippies all over the place, no normal people like Carl and me. People banging these bloody bongos, waving there matted hair, Make Poverty History busses all over the place, tents, sound checks, tents being put up from other charities.
Lets hope that people turn up for them and Carl gets his film done, Because that’s the real reason that I’m here, not for them dying in Africa. I mean to say, it sounds bad on the telly and Geldof does a good turn in ranting, but who the cares? Do I give a shit? At this point no. All I want is a pint of Lager.
We walk away from the meadows towards town; all I want is a pint, well maybe just two!!!! And then bed, as we need to get up early and get in to the meadows to start filming.
Eight Pints later, start on gin. Carl has a baileys, which we all agree is a Nancy drink.
Make it back to the B&B after a high level discussion on who is going to have the biggest funeral when we die.
Am asleep before my head hits the pillow.
Make the taxi at 7.30 am.
Carl feels like shit, decides to have a cigarette, as “that is the only thing that will sort me out”
We both feel like shit for most of the morning. (Well I pretend to make Carl feel better)
Then the whistles start….Just shut the fuck up, don’t these people know that I’ve got a sore head)
It’s getting near 11 now.
Thousands and thousands or people all wearing white.
All in white
Damn! The noise, kids, push chairs, old people, young people, middle class, upper-class, any class really – every section of the human race must be in this park today I muster.
All here to try and change the minds of eight civil servants in one room, eight men all in temporary positions of work, all of them will get fired in the end, they all do. Just a temp job.
But to change the world in three day’s? Fair Trade, More and Better Aid and Drop the Debt.
Eight Temps have the power to do all of this. Incredible really.
Just eight men…………………………………….Makes me really think.
Lord Provist of Eddie Starts
“MAKE POVERTY HISTORY” comes the cry from the stage. Then some news caster says his bit.
A cardinal reads out a message from the pope, all fine and dandy.
An actor then say’s his bit, you know him, from the film, that film, the Usual Suspects…
You can almost feel his passion.
We must Make Poverty History. Enough is enough, he says, (and you have to agree with him). Enough is enough: More and better aid, not Money, Just your voice, we can effect change in our lifetime, real change.
Good Speech, enjoyed it
But the fucking whistles…
The music starts – African beat band from Ghana. Gets a message across, for me anyway, this is not about the stars of music, stage & screen but a statement to say that no one is bigger than the message being read. I wonder at this point if this rally will make the news, I hope so. It deserves too.
Off we go mow to film the start of the march. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people.
Carl films group after group. People all over waiting to make there point, banners from a condom charity, unison, Islam, old people blaming Bush with banners of his face,(a man of evil some say). Banners from Oxfam, T shirts from every charity, they all want you to be carrying there banner, wearing their T Shirt, trying to get there point over to us.
We’re Stuck now,
Waiting for some movement,
Babies in prams
Just thousand & thousands of people, I can’t really take it all in. Am I starting to understand it or not? Don’t know.
We have to get back in the middle now, get so far and stop…
For Fuck sake
Then a very nice steward lets us through with a class bit of bull shit from me, we have to get back to film, then I realise that it was not my bullshit but Carl! Ha! Always the way!
A 1 minute silence. Amazing.
Then Billy Bragg comes on.
That was nice.
Sings a song about us being right up the arse of the United States, with all of the cheers you think that he must have a point.
Don’t buy a bomb give the money to the NHS.
Speakers come and go, a women who lost 3 of her children to AIDS, now looks after her 8 grand-children as well as having HIV herself, she wants better aid.
Do I really think that I can effect change? Those 8 fuckers at a golf course, starting to think that maybe we can…
First there was 100 thousand
Then 150 to 175 hundred thousand
Then over 200 thousand
Then over 250 thousand
At the end over 300 thousand with over 225 thousand marching
When we get back I try and tell all these mothers on the school run just what I was a part of, feel proud of myself.
Do they understand….Do they hell! Tory voting tossers most of them.
Another thing whilst I think…
Now on the way back after being fed black coffee by Mr Beebee himself we are travelling through the village of Biggar,
“Do you want another Coffee?”
“Grand” came the reply from myself, “however think that there is still some left in my cup”,
“What do I do with that” asked Carl
“Throw it out the window” I reply with all authority that only age can bring.
The window is duly wound down
“Have you ever heard of the expression, don’t spit in the wind” asks Carl
Out goes the coffee…
Right on to the Car behind!
Now the lights are flashing, she is shaking her fist in our general direction. I at this point am laughing so hard I nearly piss my boxers. After a while I can not see the road due to the tears.
After another 5 minutes my chest is hurting due to the laughter.
The car behind is now keeping her distance.
And my coffee went cold
I then find the motorway with out getting lost, Champion!
So on Sunday we get in the Car and start the long journey back to Leominster, Feeling sombre and thoughtful, Did we do that? I reckon we just did.
Will we get change?
If they don’t and they want my vote in four years time…. Fuck Off… (Geldoff 6/7/05)
Do I feel good?
Damn right I do
Is Mr Beebee fucking good?
Hell yeah, he is!
Will we do it all again?
I hope not……………….or don’t need to.
Look to the eight men in Scotland.
What I do know is that we will look back and tell our grand children “I was in Edinburgh”. We started the change!