We’ve only been in London just over a day and we’ve already met lots of really nice people. For example, the guy who helped us with the bus tickets from Gatwick to Vauxhall, the lady who saw us looking lost at Vauxhall station and stopped to see if she could help us (she showed us how to get to the river, bless her), the laundromat guy who not only set up all the wash and drying cycles for us but also carried on a really good conversation for half an hour, etc. All were very happy, cheerful souls.
But today we saw evidence that not everyone in this country is happy. We passed three different protest groups within a hundred metres of each other today, basically right on the front doorstep of Britain’s government. I guess the protesters are at least fortunate that they’re well within their rights in a democratic country like this to voice their disapproval right under the noses of the country’s leaders. And, I might add, right under the stern gaze of grumpy old Winston Churchill, whose brooding bronze statue presided over all of the protest groups we saw today.
Crossing the road from the Houses of Parliament, we encountered the first protest group. They were unhappy about the Brexit mess (well, let’s face it, everybody is), and they want to remain with the EU. They were draped in flags and were displaying placards voicing their displeasure.
Just next to that group was a large group of women, dressed in purple. They all had white masks and their banners had slogans protesting what was happening with pensions. They donned their masks and marched in single file past the sculptures of great leaders – Gandhi and Mandela would have been supportive, I’m sure, even if Winston was not impressed. I wished one of them luck. She smiled and replied, “Fat chance of that.” Oh dear.
And right alongside that group, standing right in the middle of what would normally be a busy intersection, was a large group of men. They were all taxi drivers, and they had parked their vehicles in the driving lanes of all roads leading to this intersection and walked away from them, effectively closing down the traffic in this rather important part of London. The line of taxis in the middle of the road stretched all the way down Whitehall, way past Downing Street.
And then there’s that boorish man, Donald Trump, visiting London this week. The laundromat guy voiced his displeasure about that. He said all the roads were closed off because of Trump on Monday, making everyone in the neighbourhood angry. And the mayor of London was particularly unhappy to have the man in his city. Yesterday we saw posters protesting his visit in the area around our hotel. But today, the avenue leading to Buckingham Palace was still draped with British and American flags to announce his presence. Maybe somebody, somewhere in this city, is pleased to welcome him. I wonder what Her Majesty really thought about hosting him at the palace.
And then we saw evidence that there is at least one more unhappy person in London. A lone sign at the south end of the Westminster Bridge was telling us that we were all sinners who must repent if we are to go to heaven. That’s a rather heavy message to end this post with. I hope things improve overnight and they are all happy again in the morning.
PS. I’m not happy either. I typed up this post and when I went to save it I discovered that the wifi had dropped out and there wasn’t even an autosave. So I’m sitting up late typing it all up again. Grrr!