Friday, 7 July 2017

The Durham Miners Gala and London Pride.

I'm having another sad day - I haven't been too well but mainly it's because there are a couple of events tomorrow I'll be missing.

First of all, tomorrow is The Durham Miners Gala (pronounced 'Gayla'), which I've always wanted to see.

It's a memory from the days when the North East was a major centre for coal mining. These days 'The Big Meeting' celebrates a once proud industry and reaffirms working class support for Trades Unions and The Labour Party.

Some 200,000 people will meet up, starting early in the morning in countless pit villages in the area around Durham.

In each village a carefully preserved Lodge Banner will be set up and with the village brass band at their head, the people will carry their banners to the centre of Durham, stopping to play at the hotel where Labour movement leaders like Jeremy Corbyn watch from the balcony before marching on to the racecourse where there is a fair and celebration.

It's a unique event and one I've always wanted to see but I can't cope with the drive there and back, let alone the endless walking and standing about.

The same applies to 'London Pride', which also happens tomorrow. In the 1970's I was regular on 'Gay Pride' marches, usually responding to a call to 'bodyguard' the march from the far right. I'm very proud that I was associated with the campaign back then when it was a small scale activists march with little support outside the Gay community.

I'm really proud of everything that has been achieved and would have loved to have made it one last time to celebrate.

It's also fair to say that in the 1990's at High School, Robyn was an AIDS Activist and I am very proud of the courageous role that she played there too.

Of course it's very different now; very corporate with lots of sponsorship. It's a carnival now with big Banks and Retailers and it certainly isn't going to be attacked by the right or by the police any more. Indeed The Metropolitan Police Gay and Lesbian Association will be on the procession.

I guess we really did win!

Again, too much travelling and too much standing about for me these days. Too painful.

So I'll be spending a quiet day indoors with some memories instead.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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