For the last year or two, I have been known to make use of these virtual pages to protest political developments, deviants and disaster. There’s much to protest about at the moment. Although, perhaps, if you are a Trump loving Brexiteer, you might think I doth protest too much. But regardless, I do protest. I’m not, however, a protester. I have never actually attended a protest march, gathering, sit in, commune or other type of mass event that actually requires my physical presence. In part it’s because I’m lazy. It’s also often better to watch on television. But mostly it is because there’s never really been a protest that I felt particularly attracted to. Nothing that I felt morally or personally attached to.
The first mass protests that I remember were the coal miner strikes in the 80s. Seemed like they were getting a bit of a raw deal. But I lived in London, not South Wales or Yorkshire. We had gas central heating, not an open fire. And crucially, I was eleven years old and my weekly pocket money would just about get me to Wembley and back, not to Orgreave. To be honest, I also didn’t think much of Arthur Scargill. Which is unsurprising. I was at the time attending a well-to-do private school that weeded out reds at selection and was as likely as not to forego Guy, and put a Scargill mannequin on the fire for November 5th.
My first real opportunity to join a protest came in 1990. The Poll Tax was proving to be unpopular, particularly with those who hadn’t previously been required to contribute to the public purse. In principal, the tax seemed a fair enough method of revenue collection to me. But it was truly found wanting in its execution. However, I had moved to the London Borough of Wandsworth prior to the introduction of the Poll Tax, and remained there for the duration, on paper at least. Wandsworth, famously at the time, set a rate of precisely £0 for the Poll Tax. Yay for me and my fellow Wandsworthians. But I’d look a bit silly stood in Trafalgar Square with a placard stating ‘No More Poll Tax!’ when I (legally) paid no Poll Tax to start with. I could have attended on principle I suppose. Meh.
In 2003 we had the anti-war protests when Bush Jr and Blair decided the time was ripe for an invasion of Iraq. The problem here was that I wasn’t entirely anti-war. Not that I was particularly pro-war. I just felt that I was observing history happening in the present tense. History cannot be stopped. Besides, if they’d asked me for a plan of action it would have worked out so much better. Get Saddam and sons. Do something nasty to Chemical Ali. Put Comical Ali on SNL. Quick check for dodgy weapons. Don’t kill loads of women and kids. Everyone home by Christmas. Alas, the powers that be dropped points three, five and six in favour of attempt to govern for an indefinite number of years and get the oil. Didn’t work out well.
In 2011 there were some informal protests across the UK which did hold some appeal, as there was a mass giveaway of top of the range flat screen televisions, Nike trainers and bottles of booze. Alas, shortly afterwards, there was a mass giveaway of lengthy prison sentences too. My non-participation was, in hindsight, probably a good thing. I would almost certainly have been caught. I simply cannot go into a Currys without having a really good long browse across their entire range of electrical products and would have absolutely insisted on testing a variety of tellys before making my final choice. The stores CCTV would have a recording of me from every possible angle.
However, we might soon have a protest that I can really get my teeth into. Trump has been invited to London to see the Queen. The visit does currently seem to be a little up in the air. Rumour has it that Trump, as thin skinned as ever, is worried that his appearance will be greeted with massive protests. I rather think he’s right. And assuming I don’t have to go to work that day, or have anything particularly better to do, I may well be one of them. Admittedly, I’d be protesting the decision to invite him every bit as much as I’d be protesting his odious presidency. But it’s a protest where my turnout would genuinely count. When a man’s feelings are hurt as easily as Donald’s, then every boo counts.
I hope that any protests are imaginitively organised. Perhaps we should enrol Danny Boyle to choreograph something special for Donald. Nothing too witty, mind you. Anything intelligent will go completely over the chaps head. We need something that he understands and that hits home. An alternative Mexican wave, done to the style of their football fans would be a good idea. Firstly, he hates Mexicans. Secondly, he will definitely understand the word ‘puto’. In much the same way as the normal traveller would look up words such as hello, please, thank you and goodbye in the native tongue of their chosen destination, you can bet the Donald looks up the translation for whore, golden showers and – probably – Trump.
An alternative would be for everyone to hold up placards in the theme of ‘Covfefe’. Everyone just makes up their own word. I rather fancy ‘Ungfava Bing’. It has a ring to it that I like. Then we simply go home, turn on Twitter and wait for the inevitable tirade of Trump tweets, hopefully using the trendy, new vocab he learned en route during his coach trip. But my personal favourite would be for everyone attending to wear those ridiculously massive sponge hands and wave at him. Hit him where it hurts most. Hang a few banners, ‘This Is Big Hand Country’. Sing songs with the word hands in the chorus. Make him cry.
This is, of course, all assuming that he is still president when the time for visiting the UK arrives. I almost hope it all happens. It would make for a great day photography wise. The photo above, by the by, was taken by me, of an image in a shop window in Malaga. I think it’s actually quite flattering. I doubt Donald would agree.