Scott is almost surprised that it’s still daylight when they go to leave  , he feels as if he’s been there for hours, he blinks in the light, trying to focus after the strip lighting of the crowded bar.

When his eyes are finally working again he realises that everything has changed. there are police everywhere, they stand two deep, closely packed together, creating a pathway to funnel the marchers to their meeting point.

Scott has never seen so many police in one place, for a moment he wonders if this is going to be ok, but then one of the march stewards produces a megaphone and the chant starts

“whose streets?”

“our streets”

“who’s culture?”

“Our Culture”

he joins in on the responses, at first a little hesitantly, there is something a bit dumb, a bit gay about shouting out loud in public, he doesnt want people to stare at him and then he remembers the whole point of this is to be stared at, to be noticed, to make some noise.

His voice gets louder and louder, now he is screaming the words out

“Our streets”

“our culture”

It feels good, to be part of something, to fill the space around you with noise, to hear the same words coming from all the mouths that surround you

Scott remembers when he & his dad used to go the football on  a Saturday – lunchtime in the pub,  his dad sneaking him sips of dark bitter, 3 packets of prawn cocktail crisps and then out into the streets, everyone wearing the same – a sea of blue streaming towards the Ground & Scott walking next to his dad, bugging him to buy a programme, knowing  even as his dad moaned about the cost, that at the end of the day he would be walking home clutching a souvenir programme to add to his collection.

Scotts’s not quite sure when he & his dad stopped going to football together, he knows the season ticket stopped when he dad got made redundant last year, but thinking about it, the whole  father son thing stopped when Scott left school, when he refused to go to college, when he walked out of 1 and then 2 poxy stupid jobs.

But today, today is even better than football, all around him are men and boys who look like him,  sound like him………………

Scott looks to the side,  Lee and Kev are actually marching, heads up, arms swinging – it should be stupid, but actually it isn’t and he finds himself marching too, looking straight into the eyes of the police that line the route, a feeling of pride, of belonging so strong that it gets all emotional inside his  head & for a terrible split second, Scott almost cries but he focuses on the chanting & the moment passes

“whose’s culture ?”

“our culture”

“Sharia Law”

“No thanks”

There is something happening behind the lines of police, he looks more carefully, tries to work out whats happening. People are standing, most of them have got their phones out, taking pictures, Scott stands up tall, sticks his chest out, if he’s going to appear as someones’ Facebook status, he want to look his best. But there is something else too, there are  people just watching, mostly older, wrapped up against the bitter cold in sensible fleeces – they are clapping, nodding , making eye contact with the marchers, smiling at some of the banners.  He wonders why they don’t join in , maybe they are too old, too whack, too scared.

The march is moving to its end point now, this is where there will be a rally and speeches – Scott’s not so sure about this bit feels a bit like a school assembly – he wonders if this would be a good time to wander off, have something to eat – he could murder a Big Mac meal, maybe check out Footlocker – he starts looking out for thong girl and her mate – maybe he can persuade them to come with him.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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