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The Protest / 19 February 2014

hand written, fan shaped, black text on white paper: 'the truest measure of the justice of a system is the amount of protection it guarantees to the weakest' aung san suu kui

Handwritten quote by Aung San Suu Kyi

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Straddling the pavement were three enormous Highway Maintenance vehicles. I could see them in the distance, and the crew of the first one watched me approach.

'Sneaking up on me like that, you almost killed me' one of them offered as I rolled passed them on my way into town.  I also passed half a dozen disabled acquaintances, with their family or friends, heading in other directions. The sun shone and it was business as usual in town.

Arriving at the gathering point, I was a little more than dismayed to see (bright yellow and black), big and bold placards saying 'VOTE LABOUR'. I believe that politics in general, and party politics in particular, are how we ended up in this mess and the reason we will find it very nearly impossible to get out of.

There were also furled flags in black and yellow, carried as inconspicuously as possible by three smartly dressed young men. A similar, smaller version, flapping red and black, proclaimed 'Unite Community'.

There was a gentle air of fancy dress conferred on the gathering by a woman in a long, green cloak and a man who might have been, possibly, a Druid. He carried a staff to which was pinned an A4 poster: 'Atos Kills'

Yes this was the Salisbury protest. 30 quiet people brave enough, caring enough (or just cunning enough to seek to make political capital on the back of other people's suffering?).

The press turned up, there were photographs and interviews. And we were entertained by a talented, generous young vocalist/guitarist.

I wasn't in the mood to be entertained. I was breaking apart. The population of Salisbury was 470,981 at last count and this protest was quite widely publicised.

I understand that people may be too unwell or too afraid to turn up, but is there really no support from those outside the fear zone?

I find the sheer volume of indifference devastating.

Being proud of a country
doesn't mean sods of earth,
mountains, trees or coastline.
A country is people, and having
reason for pride is people willing
to invest in each other, respect
each other, go the extra
mile; this is
greatness. This is
where I dream
of living and
it isn't here
it isn't now.