11 days ago, at our choir rehearsal, the director announced that our SongWorks choir had managed a spot singing on the stage at Trafalgar Square in London, where the Women’s March Against Trump was to be rallying. Our director is very active in many feminist causes, and I gotta say she went the full mile on this one, as any number of performers from any phase of show biz would have gladly taken our place. As it turned out, due to time constraints, several local activists had to give up their speech time to accommodate us, so more power to our director for making sure we survived the cut.
Initially, my girlfriend (also in the choir) and I were just going to meet backstage and not do the actual march, but a couple days before, we decided we wanted to participate in the march as well. There were only about eight of our 60-plus members who were willing to do that. The only major criticism I have to say is this was one of the most poorly organised marches I’ve ever been on. We stood around for over an hour before we actually started moving.
What made the wait less taxing was just the total spectacle of it all. There have been many reports around the world of the clever signs that people were carrying in yesterday’s marches, and London’s was right up there with the best. Aside from the many obscene ones, which worried me a bit as there were so many children present, my faves were simple ones like “Free Melania,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (demental rights)” one rather cautious “I’m Not Too Sure About This Trump Guy,” or one carried by a young child that said “Trump Is A Poo Poo Head.” But then on the dirty side, I gotta give props to the one that said “I’d Call Him a Cunt, Except He Lacks the Depth and Warmth.”
The trouble with the march was the starting point being Grosvenor Square, with the total distance of the march possibly two miles. Our problems began with minimal exit space to accommodate the 10,000 or so that had amassed in this space of only a square city block in area. For a march that was slated to begin at noon, we didn’t actually get out of the perimeter of The Square until over an hour after. And after taking another 15 minutes to move about half a block, we agreed to beg off the actual march, as we were expected to be on stage in less than two hours. Plus there were a couple of us (and surprisingly, none of them was me) who needed toilets.
It took us another half hour to get to a Tube station, and our director decided that during our ride, it might be a good idea to run through the song with just the people who were present. That turned out to be a really good idea, too, not just for us, but for several of the nearby passengers who joined in on the song!
What was the song? It’s a song that was a top 5 hit in Britain in 1987, entitled “Something Inside So Strong” by the singer-songwriter Labi Siffre. Siffre isn’t known much outside UK, except for his other solo hit, “It Must Be Love,” which in a cover version became one of only a handful of songs by the Ska group Madness to hit the US charts. “Something Inside” was in many ways the perfect song for this event, though Siffre’s original intent when he wrote it was to address his struggle of being not only Black, but gay. The song has since become an anthem over here for oppressed people from all ethnicities, religions, life choices, etc, thus it was the right choice of our minimal repertoire for the Trafalgar crowd.
During our tube run-through, I was also informed that despite the large number of choir members expected to be at the Trafalgar event, only three members (out of about 15) of the bass section were going to be there. This meant that I was going to have to be in the forefront, as the bass part of this song was fairly crucial, and I knew it better than the other two basses who were there.
We arrived at the venue shortly after 2:30, which was fortunate, as we found out we were going on at 3:00, not 3:30, as we’d originally been told. This allowed us just enough time to assemble, and for the director to tell the choir that I was essentially being enlisted as the co-director, and for people to look to me for cues if they couldn’t see hers. No pressure or nothin’!
However, when we got onto the stage, I saw there was a microphone set up almost exactly where I’d be standing. Me and a microphone? Well, I’ve never met one I didn’t like, so there I was, not only carrying the bass section, but projecting it out for 25,000 or so to hear. If you go to www.womensmarchlondon.com/ (and it’s up to you whether you want to watch all 2 1/2 hours of the thing as we are on in the last 15 minutes or so), you’ll hear my “dum-dum” vocal booming right through. I’m on the far right (ironic) of the stage.
The inauguration and yesterday’s event, coupled with some of the pro-Trump “love it or leave it” backlash I’ve been getting the past few days, have served as a motivation for me personally. I no longer want to be complacent, as judging by his actions the first couple days in office, Trump is a clear and present danger to the things I still care about that keep me from renouncing my American citizenship. There are plenty of organisations over here, some of whom I’m already active with, that are concerned with the issues us Ex-Pats worry about, and they’ve been active long before the Trump era. I may not live in US anymore, and don’t have any plans to live there again, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care.