Mayday from the Fields

Tagged as: mayday social_struggles workers_movements
Neighbourhoods: bradford centenary_square infirmary_fields

With the tents all now packed away, and people having made their merry way back to the 1in12 for the evening gig of David Rovics and Atilla the Stockbroker, here's a brief rundown of my MayDay.

After a long long day yesterday getting the van loaded with tent, soundsystem, assorted merriment generating things, banners and a rocket stove lovingly fashioned from a metal dustbin, I had to contain my 'delight' when woken up at 8.45 by a soft knock on the door and the words, 'we're leaving NOW'. One day I will remember to set my alarm for days I really need to wake up early. Before the words 'is there coffee available' could be formed, it was trousers on, grab the dogs lead and out into the van to be greeted by 2 faces decidely fresher than mine.

"probably going to rain" was the repeated mantra in the van, followed by a rundown of the current probability of such, despite the blazing early morning sunshine. A quick stop off at the Treehouse cafe to pick up the food that had been prepared for the event and we were on our way to Infirmary Fields.

Upon arrival, the back doors swinging open to the van seemed to raise my need for caffiene to epic levels so I sneaked off to get some before beginning the task of unloading. For these brief moments in time that get put together, it doesn't half require a lot of stuff.

Before long, the tent was up, the rocket stove lit and the food was gently heating up ready for the arrival of the march. A 'Democracy tent' was put up (actually an old toilet tent) complete with ballot box and the words "dump your thoughts on what you would like the future of Bradford to look like here" written on the wall.

Early passers by as we set up were curious as to what was going on, but all seemed happy to engage with us and find out what all the fuss about mayday was. There was a heavy emphasis this year on telling the story of the anarchist origins of mayday, and the tales of the Haymarket Martyrs. People enjoying the rally in Centenary Square heard speeches from folk dressed up as the Martyrs along with live music and a giant game of Bratfud Monopoly!

Once everything was set up and ready, incluing a DIY stage made from an old pallete and a fully solar powered soundsystem, the faint noise of a brass band was heard and got louder until the Marchers appeared around the corner, many of them in costumes and carrying home made banners, and a sea of red and black flags. This really was a day of celebration.

Groups formed on the grass and people chatted and sang songs. People had come from all over the North to attend, and there was a very large contingent from the Sheffield Anarchist Federation who were warmly welcomed by all. A mass game of football sprang up, with the best player on the pitch by far being Cassie, the dog whos ball they were using. People got some of the fantastic food that was ready for their arrival, read the books and leaflets at the SolFed tent and used the Democracy tent to good effect, all the time with music coming from the stage. Red and black flags were hung from trees and planted in the ground, to give the field a fantastic appearance.

As the rain kept off, people took to the stage to play songs and read poetry, all related to workers struggles and the celebration of international workers day. A large contingent of people who had also been demonstrating by coincidence in the city centre for the release of political prisoners in Iran had joined the march and new friendships were made. The Yorkshire Zapatista solidarity group had made a large banner which was planted in the ground and a member sang Himno Zapatista to the crowd.

At about half past 4, and following another massed game of football, people started to drift away, with most heading down to the 1in12 club for the evenings entertainment. As people left, we packed the van back up and headed to the club ourselves, still smiling from such a positive and successful event. All that and the rain held off, despite their being (I am told) hailstorms in neighbouring towns.

With the acts still to watch, and everyone still in such a party mood, all the talk is about next year and how we can make things even bigger and better. I hope to get at least a few hours sleep before then!

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