The rather camp teddybear on my bookshelf, leaning on the Guiness stress pint, has a white band around it’s neck proclaiming “Make Poverty History Edinburgh 2 July 2005”, it’s jacket has a retro CND badge on one side saying “Well-Meaning Guardian Readers Against the Bomb”, on the other side are pinned “Not in my Name” and “Love Music Hate Racism” badges together with a rainbow ribbon. Each of these badges has a memory connected with it. The majority of these memories involve Third Party aswell as myself, and take my mind back to the problems involved in trying to keep your placard but take advantage of the fact the National Gallery Sainsbury Wing toilets are the best enroute for most demonstrations and the best ways to fit in a detour up to Hamley’s if you are going for a wander between the Embankment and Hyde Park. They also take me back to memories of how to best indulge in a spot of celebrity spotting with a small child.
All good things come to an end though and in a few weeks I go on my first major family friendly demo without Third Party for a very long time. The Wave is going to be far more Saga in style than previous jaunts. Yes, that means TOH and myself have decided to turn it into a mini-break, taking the overnight option.
Anyway I have decided that based upon my fairly extensive experience of combining protest with leisure and pleasure, and using it as a way to create family memories, I would do a short series. My fluffy guide to family friendly protest tourism.
The lesson today is choose your protest carefully
Some events have the potential to be less child friendly than others. The first thing to consider is what type of policing tactics The Met or whoever are likely to employ.
If the literature promoting an action includes words like “occupation” or “carnival of resistence” it is not going to be something you want to turn into a family day out. The police will be likely to change into their starwars outfits and have a bit of the ruck with Class War, SWP, brew crew and a few poor passers by stuck in the middle at some point. This will quite probably occur after you have been penned into an enclosed area without toilets for a while. Anti-fascist events intended to “force the fascists off our streets” are also not places for children, particularly as at these events you have the added danger of right wing extremists aswell as the police to deal with. (Note that is not to say that you cannot go and do a spot of protest tourism at these places, but it does mean you SHOULD NOT take children with you).
Good events to look out for are ones which are organised by a coalition of recognised NGO’s or end up in a large park where popular musicians will be performing. If you see flyers for an event in your local church, synagogue or mosque you can almost guarentee that it will be child friendly…..as “child friendly” often also equates to “socially concerned Christian friendly”. Also look out for annual events such as the CND Easter demonstrations; multi generational days out with a number of pensioners in attendance.
Local demos also tend to be very family friendly and are a good way to network / make friends with some interesting community activists in your area.