Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Funeral

The tube was as busy as usual. More people seemed to exit at St Paul's than normal, but I guess that was to be expected. I excited at the next stop and watched as people went about their day as if it was any other. I walked down the side street towards work and noticed there were no cars. Usually its bustling with black cabs and buses, but today nothing. As I got closer to my road I saw the police standing in the street and the barriers that had been laid across the road.

The metal barriers, in place since Monday along the pavement, had people leaning up against them. There was a sense of foreboding in the air, the atmosphere felt thicker than normal and people appeared to be more on edge. Hurrying quicker than normal to the santucry of the workplace, when perhpas normaly they would walk slower and delay the inevitable day at work for as long as possible. I guess with the events that were about to happen it was expected.

I made it to the shop door and walked inside, closing the door behind me. I had certain protocol I had to follow and the police had already told us we couldn't open. As the time got closer to 10am the streets started to fill up with more people. Myself and my colleague made our way outside and watched as the soldiers took their places. Their red uniforms pressed and sharp, the gold buttons shinning brightly and their big black woolen hats standing tall upon their heads.

Others marched to the sound of their sergeant barking orders at them to keep step. Not one of them averting their eyes from straight ahead, professional as always doing what they are trained for. I saw people with socialist flags and placards making their way past me wondering if the protests so many had talked about would actually happen.

A marching band walked by playing Jerusalem, people chatted and laughed and joked with their colleagues. Was I really about to watch a funeral go past? It felt weird to be honest. I'm no Margaret Thatcher supporter, I was bought up in a house with a father high up in the EEPTU. I had been taken on demo marches as a child. I was well aware of the changes she made top this country and the good and the bad impact that it had on the people who lived through that time. I had started the 80's as a boy and left it as a man and here I was about to watch the funeral of the Prime Minister I had grown up with.

The time approached 10.30, the moment would soon be here when her carriage would be walked straight past me. I watched as the police started to scan the crowd for any potential trouble and the tension around us got thicker and thicker. People who had been laughing together now stopped and frowned towards those who were.

The clip of horses hooves on the tarmac made us turn our heads to the right as they came into view. Four policemen and women on horse back led the carriage right past us. A Union jack flag covered the coffin, what appeared to be lilies lay across the top. Forces personnel walked at the corners and down the side, each aspect represented. The age of some of them meant that they hadn't been alive when she first took office. I found this strange surely the Falkland vets would have been a better choice. I tensed expecting to hear shouts of derision but there was nothing. Only silence and the click of cameras as people took photos as she passed by.

No one said a word, you could have heard a pin drop. A few turned their backs, I have no problem with this that's their right, but I will say that respect was shown with the silence that encased us all. We watched as the coffin passed our view and then we dispersed and went on with our daily routine. I feel nothing either way at her passing, I'm not getting into her politics either. This is just a blog so as I can look back on it in a few years and have the memories of being there.

I was there because that's where I worked, if I hadn't been working today I wouldn't have gone. That's not some sort of protest, like I say I have no strong feelings either way. I'm just a Londoner who happen to be there as she went past and I paid my respects the same way I do when I see a hearse in the street. I stopped and waited until it had passes, bowing my head and sending silent condolences to the family who have suffered the loss.

Whatever we all thought of her she was somebody's, wife, mother and grandmother and today I feel the respect for her passing by those there was exemplary whatever their political view. I understand the hurt and anger of the Hillsborough families, the miners, the steel workers, the youth of the day. I'm not saying you weren't hurting and are still hurting. What I'm saying is that when someone passes away perhaps sometimes its better to say nothing at all.

Her legacy will live long into the future, no one has ever split this country the way she did, good and bad, but today I watched someone being given a funeral that I feel was right given her standing in the world. RIP Margaret Thatcher.

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