No apologies for the French titling (the name is Chabrier's for the most gorgeously dotty and lopsided march ever; and that allows me to slip in a by now well-worn aperçu of mine about the connection between the opening of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and Delibes' "Cortège de Bacchus" from the ballet Sylvia, which EE would have known as a player in Worcestershire 'pops' programmes). This is the fifth time I've joined a demo for remaining in the European Union in a year. I didn't actually march on the first one, only able to turn up in Parliament Square for the speeches in September 2016. The fair-weather progress started for me properly in March 2017, resuming in June 2018 and beginning the parade of the 700,000 in November. They've all been exuberant, polite (this should have been called the 'sorry/excuse me' march), friendly for dogs
humorous, sometimes carnivalesque (though for that the anti-Trump march took the biscuit). The band above was actually playing 'YMCA', to a big singalong, halfway down Piccadilly.
I gave up on several alternative plans to meet folk, including one to join the West London Group led by my MP Andy Slaughter, which turned out also to include the great Alf Dubs, and came straight out of Hyde Park Corner tube, which once again like the train itself was packed with others heading to make up the million-plus - including my nice young neighbours -
to find the streets closed to traffic. So I headed for a grassy mound at the east end of Hyde Park Corner and immediately got various coigns of vantage - towards Park Lane, where Mrs Mayhem was to be seen spearing the economy with her ever-growing nose
and towards Piccadilly and Green Park.
Only when I saw my neighbour clicking some counter or other did I look at his coat and notice this:
Thought of asking him very politely why he was joining us, but didn't want to risk souring the general sense of well-being which held, as before, throughout the afternoon. There were much more interesting signs and declarations to be read. Many need no explanation, though the first, for anyone who hasn't watched the best entertainment/artistry on telly, is RuPaul's catchphrase for the contestant of the Drag Race week who gets to stay ('sashay away' is the phrase to the loser, which is probably on the other side of the placard- rhymes well with 'Theresa May').
The fearless Speaker of the House of Commons makes his first appearance on a march.
and there's at least one learned reference (bit surprised to be asked who Hannah Arendt was by two friends. Recommended them the surprisingly good biopic based around the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem starring Barbara Sukowa.
And so to the ridiculous, referencing Dumb Britain as represented by Love Island, which I've never watched.
Here's the clip to explain it.
Eeeuw. Time to slip in (not for the first time on the blog) the aforementioned Chabrier by way of intermezzo. I posted my favourite performance, Ansermet's, before, so time for Beecham.
Consumerism wasn't conspicuous on the march, but our delightful friend Orfeuo, just over from the Netherlands, added some retail colours. We met him, appropriately, outside the Ritz, fresh from a shopping spree.
Then we joined the march down to St James's Palace. I had a nice chat with these people, who'd adopted the consummate posters highlighting the tweets of the hypocritical mini-horror clowns for their boards.
The poster campaign was run by the creative heart of Remain, Led by Donkeys. For this ingenuity alone, obviously not my pic as it could only be seen from above in Parliament Square (click to enlarge a bit), I gave something for their campaign - you can, too, here.
Now we approach St James's Palace.
And here the enticing notion of lunch at the ICA took us away from the main procession and along the Mall.
I haven't eaten at the ICA in over a decade. The cafe used to be run by a nice Italian family who served cheap and excellent plates of pasta daily. They were replaced by a table-service-only restaurant with pretensions, no good for fast-ish food. Now there's an excellent restaurant and a fine cafe downstairs, and you no longer need to belong to the ICA or pay for a day pass to get in. Our lunch was splendid, and I met an acquaintances of J, Trevor Horne, and his wife Linda Morris. She happened to be sporting the same Tillmans T-shirt as I was, a first in my experience on any of the marches since I got mine,
and he was bearing, amongst others, the Tillmans banner I wanted to make myself but in the end didn't (the one on the left about Putin, Trump, Le Pen and the now-superseded Wilders supporting Brexit).
Time passed quicker than I realised and I got to Parliament Square just after the last speech had finished. I regret it even more since Heseltine's was one for the ages, spelling out the strong message of peace from one who was alive when that was the driving force of the European project. Do watch all 12 minutes.
I still caught a couple of excellent posters - there are two more 'anti-saints' on the reverses; but can anyone remember what "Saint Theresa" is, and what she was/is to be crucified on? -
and the legendary unicorn just before I descended to St James's Park tube for the journey home. The bike was then sitting with a flat tyre in Berkeley Square; yesterday I got it fixed at the superlative Cycle Republic off Upper Regent Street and while I waited for it to be serviced took a big loop of a stroll up to Regent's Park, around and back on the most perfect of spring days.