Today I downed my lino tools for once, put on some shoes, and strode out from my den of iniquity and illustration to go on a protest march (opposing the £9,000 tuition fees at Edinburgh University, thanks for asking). Not really being cut out for the whole chanting-and-banner-waving thing, I took a sketchbook instead, to document the day.
We started out milling around the Scottish Parliament, getting out placards together and chatting. It didn’t really feel like a protest, more a Sunday outing accompanied by the police. Like being on parole. Of course, the local press were there, looking disappointed already that the day didn’t seem like it was shaping up to be a violent one.
So, we milled around outside the parliament for a while, some men in suits came out and spoke to the cameras and spoke briefly to us. No one seemed terribly interested though. Then we started marching, and chanting, and banner-waving, and making tourists feel slightly uncomfortable. Everything a march in Edinburgh’s old town should be. Here are some drawings:
I’d also like to point out that walking and drawing at the same time is a difficult endeavor. Particularly when everyone is shouting and banner-waving. Of course, Edinburgh’s finest were there too, and I think they were as disappointed as the press at the lack of violence. They spent most of the day trying to dissuade us from walking on the wrong side of the road. That second one was scratching his bum. Highlight of the day for me.
Anyway, we finally got to the Scotland Office (which isn’t the parliament- that’s another thing I learned). Here we all sort of milled around, slightly exhausted. It had also been very windy that day, I didn’t envy the two boys at the front carrying the big banner like a sail. Then the EUSA president stood up and made a speech. He’s actually a really good speaker. Also, he either has a disproportionately tubby belly compared to his face, or he’d decided to wear a bulletproof vest for the march. Then, it all started the wrap up. There were a couple more speakers but I didn’t get any good drawings of them. We thought it had all finished off, when someone from the Edinburgh Occupation (you can read all about their wacky, anti-egalitarian antics here) stood up and started telling us that we’d all been duped into a conspiracy in which the banks were printing their own money and engineering a crisis to maintain superiority over… I don’t know. He was just about to get to the part where he revealed that the world was being controlled by a shadowy consortium of Jewish bankers who were secretly lizard-people from the future, when the EUSA president (who had a megaphone) interrupted him to politely ask protesters to return their placards if they were finished with them. Anyway. That was it. A small step, one hopes, in the fight for people being allowed to go to university on the basis that they’d be good at learning things, rather than beig able to pay for things. Only time will tell. And thanks for reading my first foray into journa-illustration. Do let me know what you think.