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Blog: Marching To Birdsong

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It was a very wet morning on Saturday as we headed to Hyde Park, there to gather for the start of The People's Walk For Wildlife. We've been to several starts of marches here, usually for Badger Cull Demoes, but this was quite a bit bigger. When we got into the park I set to searching for the tell-tale black and white of The Badger Army, but instantly saw a HUGE crowd of people standing around in front of a Proper Stage.

As we got closer we could see home-made Badger placards (like what we had), but also ones featuring Hares, Bees, Bats, Foxes, Newts and all sorts of other wildlife that's under threat. It was like a gathering of the CLANS, with all the different wildlife lovers of the country coming together. It was also very soggy, tipping it down throughout the Speeches part of the event, which began with a selection of tunes which The Tracks In My Shuffle theorised had come directly from C Packham's iPod.

The next hour of speeches and music (which, as is the rule for these sort of things, ran late and turned into an hour and a half) became DISTINCTLY WEIRD for me when Chris Packham introduced a couple of musicians, one of whom was BILLY BRAGG, and the other was our own G Petrie! There was Grace on stage singing "Big Yellow Taxi" with B Bragg paying guitar for her! Grace who used to support acts in various long-demolished pubs in Leicester in the early 90s! With Billy Bragg as her sideman! Later on she did a song on her own and, as ever, I thought "I hope she's going to be all right playing to all these people" and then remembered, AGANE, that even though I think of her as a teenager playing in The Victory, she is ACTUALLY an International ROCK Star of immense skill who could do this sort of thing in her sleep. She was GRATE!

Alongside all that were speeches which, as I say, massively over-ran, despite the best efforts of the organisers. Most of the speakers mentioned that they only had two minutes to speak, with one person SPENDING two minutes telling us why that wasn't long enough, which I always find Somewhere Fatiguing, but eventually we were all done and the march commenced.

This bit was BRILLO. The first twenty minutes were spent crossing Hyde Park, which was LOVELY - more marches should be done on grass, it's much easier on the feet! Before the day itself people had been asked to download an mp3 of BIRDSONG (specifically birdsong that had disappeared from England in recent times) and play it on their phones as we walked along, which was FLIPPING LOVELY. It felt slightly surreal walking through the posh bits of London traffic apparently surrounded by BIRDS, but it was much more restful than having to chant things all the time. It was also GRATE having a banner EACH to wave!

Eventually we reached Whitehall, where I was disconcerted to find MORE speeches which, as is the rule, we couldn't hear most of because of speakers MUTTERING. I always find this Quite Troubling: surely if you KNOW you are going to speak in front of 10,000 people, you would spend a LITTLE time working out what you are going to say, rather than just RAMBLING? Thankfully George Monbiot came on towards the end and did a PROPER SPEECH which was dead good. Still, the quiet did give us more time to appreciate the birdsong, which was augmented by the sound of some VERY confused parakeets sitting in the tree that we were sheltering under!

It was a bit of a soggy stomp, but a good day all round - it was done to promote The People's Manifesto For Wildlife, which seems to be a Thoroughly Good Thing, so hopefully us being there helped a bit!

posted 25/9/2018 by MJ Hibbett

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