“My dear Miss Havisham, would you like another cup of tea?” “Oh how charming, Mr Cholomondly-Warner, I believe I would, thank you.” “I must say your embroidery is too delightful, what exquisite stitching.” “Oh sir, you are too kind, I do protest! Although, I must confess I didn’t expect ‘protest’ to be anything like this. Do you feel as conspicuous as I, Mr Cholomondly-Warner, sitting on this hard floor?” “Indeed I do, Miss Havisham, but the constabulary gentlemen don’t seem to mind our being here, so do calm your nerves. Grape?”
Well OK, so it wasn’t quite like that. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that Sunday 10th April was scheduled as a day of craftivism, in railway stations across the country, to protest the government’s plans to hike rail fares yet higher – with no corresponding plan to plough any of the increased profit back into the rail network. Paid through the nose to travel by train recently? Get a seat? Eee, you were lucky.
Anyway, Sunday, yes. I turned up at Sheffield station, on my own, with my tea and my sewing things, wondering how many fellow craftivists would join me. And lo, the place was deserted, apart from two people buying tickets… and three big policemen. Well OK maybe they weren’t giants, but they certainly weren’t the runty, fresh-out-of-training-college youth police so many of the older generation find themselves complaining about; these guys could’ve been bouncers. Sigh. I went outside, nope, nobody there looking stitchy. Back inside, took a deep breath, and parked my derriere on the concourse. It doesn’t sound like much, but to me it felt like being the first person to stick their hand up and say “I’m Spartacus”.
I got my flask of tea out, and my sewing kit, and within about five (long) minutes was joined by the magnificent Simon Heywood,
and then the wonderful Jillian Creasy, Green Party councillor for Sheffield Central ward. Huzzah! Jillian spread her embroidered Green Party banner as a picnic blanket, the china teacups came out, and we got stitching, and chatting, and tea-drinking.
During the course of the afternoon we were joined by a few more Green Party members (yeah, ‘other’ parties, they get a mention because THEY BOTHERED), and various unaffiliated friends 🙂 A friendly journalist (Russell, from North West Sheffield) came and asked some pertinent questions, and Sam Walker and her son Izaac took lots of great photos. A few people stopped to ask what we were doing, and the policemen wandered off eventually to find some less baffling citizens to look at.
It wasn’t a huge protest, in fact, it was quite tiny really, but we did gather in a goodly selection of carriages for the Climate Rush bunting. I brought with me some representatives of absent supporters – people who had expressed their solidarity with the protest, but were unable to join us in person. These were, for the record and in no particular order, Mr X-Stitch, Betsy Greer (Craftivista), Radical Cross Stitch, Jon Boden (of Bellowhead and the excellent ‘A folk song a day‘ project), and Ele Carpenter. I did ask Jarvis Cocker via Twitter, but he never got back to me. I think Jon Boden’s a better performer anyway 😉
And you know what, I *really* enjoyed it.