My throat is raw. I'm screaming at the top of my lungs:
One, two, three, four -
Corporate bailouts no more!
Five, six, seven, eight -
Spend it on the welfare state!
There's city dust in my eyes, and my legs feel like blocks of wood as we take the final mile down Picadilly towards Hyde Park. A painted banner flaps against my body, proclaiming us Anti-Capitalist Feminists. And I'm still chanting. I'm an animal, a tiny, burning ball of rage and justice, I've got all my sisters with me, it's been four hours since my last latte and I'm running on adrenaline and outrage. Me and thirty-five thousand others.
And yet the Put People First march is still, somehow, suffused with an air of pessimism. The Troops Out Of Baghdad placards look especially mournful: because yes, we have been here before. The last time I marched down Picadilly in the cold March breeze with thousands upon thousands of angry fellow citizens, we wanted to stop the troops going in to Baghdad, and we were heard, and we were ignored. The samba players are overwhelmed by the thump and screech of a marching band from the end of the world, and the set-piece of the procession is a cheery twenty-foot tall rendering of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Thunderclouds are gathering.
A woman I'm marching with tells me that she doesn't think the G20 will change anything even if it's in their power to do so. Ahead of me, in front of the RMT banners, an old man is explaining to the just-walking little boy holding his hand about the protests in 1981. We've seen all this before. So why are we still here?
We're here because we're fed up of being lied to. We're here because we've been royally screwed over, and now we're angry. We're here because even if we don't expect to be listened to, that doesn't mean we'll stop trying to be heard. Not ever.
On my way home through Green Park, tired beyond words, I pick a bunch of wilting daffodils that glow faintly in my grimy hands in the noonlight. Around the corner, the band are still playing, the people are still screaming, the dull rumble of thirty-five-thousand feet is still ringing down the thoroughfare. Dreamily, I give out the daffs to the rows of police officers standing in front of the Ritz. One of them even takes a flower, and pops it in his lapel.
Photos to follow.