The Big IF: Hyde Park – Our First Activist Rally

Pizza 674 x 280

Kathryn and Nick attend their first rally in Hyde Park on 8th June – it wasn’t like the books, news reports or videos…

It was a glorious sunny day as we joined the 45,000 people (according to most media reports), congregating in London’s Hyde Park to demand that world leaders take action against global hunger at the G8. Last weekend’s gathering wasn’t as flashy as 1985s Live Aid, or as far reaching as the Live 8 events of 2005, but the aims were similar and comparisons have inevitably been made.

However, unlike its predecessors, there was no career making bluster from the likes of ‘uncle’ Bob. This gathering was a grass roots affair, albeit with some very impressive supporters. The IF coalition consists of numerous charities including Save the Children, Oxfam, Unicef and Christian Aid.

We started north of the Serpentine, where thousands of plastic flowers were being planted to represent the millions of children who die each year of malnutrition. It was confusing at ground level and those with a proper view were arranged on a scaffolding plinth on the south side of the perimeter. Helpful swarms of volunteers were giving lost tourists directions and doing their best to herd as many people as possible in the general direction of the event.

Momentarily confused by the fact that a number of the Hyde Park gathering’s signs pointed to Green Park, we got our bearings and joined the steady stream of people making their way across the bridge towards the main rally. We’d never been in the heart of activism before and it was an interesting, if slow, experience.Pants to Poverty 674 x 280

Through the entrance of the delineated park area there were hoards of picnickers revelling in the sunshine. Various food stands were dotted around the edge and we were bombarded by leafletters offering: questionnaires from the University of Sheffield, information on London Marxism events, emotive pamphlets on repressive regimes and extensive offers from numerous ‘go abroad and help’ charities. Passing further into the depths of the rally, young singers were being filmed, distributors of cardboard ‘noise-makers’ were thrusting their wares into people’s hands… whilst one conspicuous gang was modelling sustainable underwear for the “Say Pants to Poverty” movement.

High heeld lady (Portrait - half width)Past this first section, the traffic seemed to thin and we broke free into a wide open space. This was an almost clear patch populated simply by pairs and trios of ambling activists, along with two extremely visible ladies wearing knickers over their leggings and incredibly high heels. The two girls brandished the IF’s ubiquitous yellow signs, but also held aloft the slogan “walk slowly.” We couldn’t grasp the significance of this… and no amount of internet research has offered an explanation.

Finally we reached the area in front of the main stage where speeches from high profile names included David Beckham, via video link, David Cameron and Bill Gates were due to take place. We stood outside the designated area – filled with protesters – behind the broadcasters filming the event and watched the empty stage.

The announcement went out that it was all about to begin – but there was no mass movement from the crowds. The high heeled ladies began their slow parade away from the tent, the picnickers stayed firmly ensconced… and the queue for the pizza stand remained just as long as ever, snaking and curling its way outwards in the beautiful London sunshine.


  1. Pant Wearer says:

    Fight The Power!

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