Wednesday, 6 June 2007

"I know what you're like, Pestilence - you're always pulling stupid faces in photos"

"G8, keep your word; all our voices must be heard..."

So went the cry when I spent around 45 minutes last Saturday on the banks of the Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament, helping to make a racket. The purpose? To give Tony Blair and the other G8 leaders a 'wake up call' prior to this year's summit, to remind them of the promises they made on debt, trade and aid 2 years ago.

Why bother dragging all that up again? Didn't 'Make Poverty History' and Live 8 sort all that stuff out? Well, no, not entirely. Most of what was promised has yet to be achieved.

During those 45 minutes, if the statistics are correct, 156 children will have died from drinking dirty water. 45 women will have died in childbirth (most in circumstances easily preventable). 1.2 billion people are surviving on less that one dollar a day.

These things take time, of course. But without public pressure, is there a risk that the issues get sidelined? Looking around, it was quite depressing to notice the chronology of campaigning. The instruction was to wear white, so I turned up in my Make Trade Fair T shirt. I blended in quite well with those wearing Make Poverty History T shirts, or Drop the Debt or Jubilee 2000 T shirts. Successive campaigns that have yet to fully achieve their aims for social justice. Maybe this time?

On a lighter note, people-watching provided a fair amount of interest. We were 'entertained' by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, whose antics gave rise to one of the more amusing overhearings I've ever had (see title). Later, when I was leaning on the river wall, 'Death' sidled up to me and, in a voice creepily reminiscent of Alan Rickman's Snape, said, "Would you like to sit on the wall? You'd get a much better view. I could help you up there".

I declined.

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