Friday, September 05, 2014

Marching for the NHS

After a sumptuous brunch of fish fingers on toast (September is austerity month and everything is served on toast to augment its belly-filling properties), I went to look for the NHS march who were supposed to be stopping for lunch in a little local park on their way from St Albans to Edmonton. I'd been working all morning on charts, timetables and other such administration, and a walk in support of something that I fervently believe in was now the priority of the day.
The Conservatives have never been able to stand the idea of something as essential as health care being in public hands. Just think how often people get ill- and just think how much money can be made out of that!
This drove me to join the Labour Party many years ago when John Major was ripping it to shreds (since lapsed, but I'm watching) but I think the best way to look after the NHS now is by signing every petition that crosses my path, and walking part of the route from Jarrow to Trafalgar Square in support of the amazing women who have walked the whole way.
A small welcoming party was waiting in the park but I walked up the road to meet them. They didn't stop for lunch but carried on. Boy do they walk fast! I'd arranged to meet Offsprog One at the next tube station down the line but we were well past there at the allotted time so we had to rearrange.
A van met us every so often to hand us piles of leaflets (I was tweeting it so I didn't leaflet but I did hold a banner with a marching fellow for part of the way). People were reading the leaflets, not throwing them away, and drivers were drawing up in cars and winding their windows down to ask for them too.
We stopped at Arnos Grove, and there was Offsprog One with her camera. A very nice Italian shop let us all use their loos, and quite a lot of people bought ice creams before we set off for the last two miles to Edmonton, walking mostly alongside the North Circular which is possibly London's most dangerous and dirty road. But the company was great and we heard every sort of car and lorry horn tooting in support; some of those lorries have the most amazing sounds: hoarse, grunting, tuneful, I'd never realised the music available in air horn form. One of our number had a bugle, too, which was a very cheerful accompaniment. Every time a car or lorry hooted, a man with a whistle mimicked their sound, and we waved and cheered. It was knackering but good fun. Sometimes the march slowed down a bit, for instance when the over-50s group joined for a while.
I'd been planning to walk from High Barnet to Arnos Grove, after meeting Offsprog One at Whetstone. But we carried on and when I got home I was surprised that our leg had been 9.5 miles.
The people who have walked the full distance deserve a massive amount of respect.
They are setting off from Edmonton tomorrow morning and aiming to be at Trafalgar Square for 3, where there will be speakers including the writer Owen Jones.
Somewhere along the way, we were wondering what the Queen thought of the NHS being privatised. All those poorly subjects, feeling to ill to sing the National Anthem. Bless.

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