|Having gone to Edinburgh by train, I arrived at The Meadows just before 1 p.m. The day was fine and warm, but thankfully not uncomfortably hot. Many groups had already set off on the march. By 1.30p.m. the white human band round the centre of Edinburgh was complete already! Not to be daunted, I joined a group and set off - the last of the marchers left the Meadows at c4 p.m., so the 'band' was constant for several hours - the route took about two hours to complete. |
An estimated 225,000 people had arrived for the march and rally.
The photo shows the group behind us, waiting for the 'off'.
|The route took us down the Mound to Princes Street, and along the world-famous street with its gardens towards the West End. There had been worries about crowd order, and the police were out in full: all police leave has been cancelled from this weekend until the end of the Summit. Barricades had been put in the centre of Princes Street to protect the crowds, manned at short intervals by police officers. Some shops had even boarded up their windows! |
In the event, the whole event went off extremely peacefully, in a 'carnival' atmosphere, and the "safe, fun, family-friendly event" which had been promised by the organisers was realised. According to reports, only one arrest was made, for a drugs-related incident, and a potential 'incident' was headed off and aborted by police with no arrests.
(Later note: the unconnected events over the next few days were more problematic.)
At 3 p.m., there was a minute's silence for us to remember why we were there, thinking about the children who are dying at an average rate of once every three seconds because of poverty, and imagining they were our children.
|St John's Episcopal Church in the West End has long been known for its stance on justice and peace issues. Outside the church, there was a board to which people could attach their white band messages to go to the G8 leaders, a Pants to Poverty display and a group performing African music and urging us not to forget Darfur.|
|This girl must have been the best dressed marcher!|
Luckily for the rest of us, evening dress was not compulsory.
Since normally I "don't do white", I had to borrow a white t-shirt from my husband!
|After being part of the "white band around Edinburgh city centre", we returned to the Meadows, where a variety of groups had displays and campaigns for various aspects connected with justice and poverty.|
|The Woodcraft Folk had set up a ceilidh tent with various bands, and visitors could enjoy the full range of ceilidh dances, from the well-known Military Two-step (above left) to the Cumberland Square Eight, (above right) which was new to me. The photo shows just one part ('helicopters') of this wild dance, where the men have to whirl round so fast that the ladies' feet leave the ground!|
|Also in the Ceilidh Tent was a choir consisting of "gentle, angry people" known as Protest in Harmony, which sang some songs related to the theme of the day beautifully and movingly. (The image above is a 'joiner' of three photos)|
|There were two stages. Comedian Eddie Izzard (above) was one of the presenters, and there was a big screen where people could get better views of what was happening, and we could also get live footage from the Live8 event in London (above left).
There were also various speakers, including the Kenyan lady (right), representing the millions of AIDS victims in Africa.
Three three main thrusts of the MPH campaign are:
|Oxfam's response to the commitments made by the G8 summit can be summarised as "It's a good start":
More info (sadly, not accessible with default !Fresco)
This South African musician has performed for Nelson Mandela.
The singer with Oy Va Voy, a band I particularly enjoyed
Sophie Solomon, violinist with Oy Va Voy
A colourful band singing an anti-drugs song for kids.
|Some of the entertainment on stage and in the park.
There was so much to take in - I'd totally forgotten that the Meadows is such a huge area, and at first I just stayed in the Campaign area, so I missed a lot of what was going on in the other areas.
|An attempt was made to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the biggest Eightsome Reel: this was called, of course, the G8some Reel They were hoping to get over 1300.
Happily, some of the marchers had come properly dressed for such an enterprise!
According to The Sunday Post, around 5,000 people participated, so that was an excellent 'record break'.
|All day, people had been writing messages on white bands and handing them in to be tied to giant letters with the overall theme of the event: Make Poverty History. Again, the image is a joiner - this time of 18 individual photos! - which explains why the letters don't seem to be same size and are 'disjointed'.
Since the above image doesn't give any sense of size when reduced to fit onto a web page (when I joined the pix it came to a width of over 65cm at 300dpi!) I've also included a single letter, with one of the stewards in front of it for scale.
The letters had been lying flat on the ground for most of the day: I caught them when they were raised to the horizontal, but I was watching the G8some reel at the far end of the Meadows when they were lifted up.
Well, you can't be everywhere, but on 2nd July 2005, I was in the right place.
|Images and text © Liz Leyden 2008.
May be used for non-profit personal or educational purposes only.
Don't hotlink to my images