Marchers were asked to wear black & white, and to wear badger masks which are available to download from the website. We chose this one and then had to find something to tie it on with. I tried Stretch Magic :-) but didn't have enough, so in the end we used shirring elastic.
We met up with some friends at the railway station and strolled across Vauxhall Bridge, past the top-secret MI5 building. Or is it MI6? I forget. Anyway there were shedloads of cameras pointing down at us so we smiled nicely. The tide was just starting to turn and a couple of Ducks were struggling to get across the river - have you seen these? They're really cool amphibious vehicles that were used in the D-Day landings. They do tours round London and then suddenly take to the water. They looked a little low in the water to us! This is one of the Ducks we saw today - the pic is from the londonducktours.co.uk website.
We were quite early but there were already loads of people about, mostly having tea in the tea tent in the garden at Tate Britain, so we got some drinks and had a bit of a sit down. The tea tent staff seemed a bit bemused by the large number of customers, let alone that they were dressed as badgers, I don't think they're usually that busy on a Saturday morning - and that was before everyone else arrived! There were all sorts of people there - the popular image of animal rights people are the young, dreadlocked 'crusty' types, with tattoos and nose rings. There were a few people like that but there were also families with kids, with their faces painted with the black & white badger stripes, some older people with walking sticks and those triangular zimmer frame walkers, young couples, all kinds of people. People had come on public transport and on special coaches organised from places like Bristol and Manchester and Leeds. One lady had come over from Belgium, just for the march.
We saw one very smart lady with a gorgeous cream fitted jacket and very smart black trousers, and several people with fab purple DMs. One woman was wearing a white tutu and a black basque - she looked great!! Lots of cute dogs too, including a Jack Russell that was having a ride on his human's shoulders, and a teeny chihuahua. Lots of people had placards and banners, almost everyone had masks, and there were loads of badger hats and hand puppets and soft toys. We shared a table with a lady who explained she was part of a group who protest the live animal exports at Dover, and she told us about the times she has been kept in police cells for breaching the peace. She looked as though she should be shopping at Waitrose, not on a demo! She was a very smart lady about our age, beautifully dressed and with a smart hairdo. It sounded so strange to hear her talk about cells and bail and stuff!
The route of the march had been changed because of another rally being held that day [and who seem to have got all the news coverage] so we couldn't go to Downing Street to hand in the petition to No 10. A delegation went to do that before the march began, including Brian May and Virginia McKenna, and another delegation went with Bill Oddie to Defra.
Shortly before we were due to move off, we had a few speeches. People collected outside Tate Britain, and we heard from the organisers, and then from some of the groups that make up Team Badger. The crowd was really getting behind them, clapping and blowing those vuvuzela things. Then from the right hand side of the crowd the cheers started, getting louder and sweeping across the crowd as people realised that Brian May had arrived. He gave a great speech and really got people going, he would be fab as a motivational speaker. Virginia McKenna said a few words too - such an elegant lady. And then we were off.
We walked along the embankment for a while then turned down Horseferry Road. We were supposed to go past the Houses of Parliament but had been diverted. We had people in badger suits and fox suits, people with drums and people with megaphones to get the community chanting going. There is a song to go with the campaign too - you can fine it here Badger Boys
We had a few police officers walking along the route, including one who looked as though he was wearing his big brother's uniform! I know he'll grow into it but it must have been at least two sizes too big for him. There was one WPC who got a bit stroppy if we tried to walk on the footpath but other than that they were very friendly. One officer told a bloke in front of me that they estimated 4-5,000 people had attended. The BBC put it at 2000. I think it was probably somewhere between the two :-)
We snuck off just before the very end, to try to avoid the crowds around the bus stops and things, but the buses had been re-routed because of that other march, so we ended up walking over Westminster Bridge to Waterloo station and the train home. It was lovely to see so many people coming together to try to save this beautiful wild animal. There is an Opposition Day Debate in Parliament on Wednesday to try to stop the cull. Did you know that the last time it was debated the vote was 147 against, 28 for? A massive defeat for the Government but they went ahead anyway. Democracy in action?