Walking home this evening I had the feeling that it was very late - like walking home after a party. The sky wasn't quite dark and a few lone birds were singing in the trees. But, of course, the reason for this was that it was only 9pm. The late-night feeling was caused by my tiredness and wiredness - that post-action feeling where you're exhausted but somehow hyper-aware.
I'd been on the Smash Edo demo. It was a funeral march to remember the people killed in Gaza a year ago, during a siege in which bombs, whose components were manufactured in Brighton, were used to murder 1417 Palestinians. It's unfortunate to admit that as demos go it was pretty unspectacular, and little seemed to be achieved (thanks, as usual, to the over zealous efforts of out boys in blue - or fluorescent yellow, as it seems to be these days - but we'll get to that in a minute). But by the end of the day I felt like I'd had some personal kind of revelation; or at least joined up a few more dots. I attended the demo alone - though I briefly saw one or two acquaintances on the march - a first for me, and something I'd never have considered before. And despite my semi-isolation faced with a huge police presence, I didn't have the same tremulous fear as on previous demos. Perhaps it was just because I felt a bit more prepared, knowing what to expect now.
After being released from a ridiculous kettle on North Street (about 30 of us, stuck in an area not much bigger than a pedestrian crossing), I headed to the Cowley Club for food, warmth and, most importantly, a toilet. Having fed and relaxed for half an hour I went to help my... non-boyfriend, for want of a better word, in the kitchen, washing up and bringing out the orders. It's not a great leap or anything and I've waitressed (albeit badly) in many a pub, but somehow I've always been a little timid about working at the Cowley. Maybe it's the volunteer aspect, maybe it's the anarcho aspect, either way there has always been a sense that I don't really belong there and I'll get it all wrong - but in the light of my dashing about playing cat and mouse with riot police, perhaps it was put into perspective! And made me feel a bit more hardcore... Whatever it was, by the time I made that walk home, I had a sense of being strong and able, in a way I haven't really before. I hope this experience bodes well for my imminent steps off the cliff into self-unemployment.
I'll write some more about the demo itself - but now it really is extraordinarily late, and I might finally be unwired enough to sleep. (This, no doubt, will prove untrue - I'll turn the light out and spend the next hour composing my follow-up blog post in my head.)