||[Jul. 13th, 2015|09:03 pm]
Previous years: 2005 2006 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Yesterday, once again, was the Durham Miners' Gala, the Big Meeting, a day out for all the family, with brass bands and banners, a funfair and political speeches.
We set off after breakfast, down the North Road, past the Scottish dancers of the Morpeth Pipe Band, starting to meet bands standing, waiting their turn, on Framwellgate Bridge. We were looking for the NASUWT, and in previous years we've caught up with them in Silver Street, but no -
Through the Marketplace, stopping by Magdalen Steps for a particularly spirited version of the Proclaimers' 500 Miles (something like this, but heading in the opposite direction). We couldn't have chosen not to stop, the crush was so great, so we waited and enjoyed the music, and when the band moved on, we moved on with them -
On to Elvet Bridge, where we found a different kind of band, a bunch of folk musicians marching with the Harraton banner, which has portraits of Jack Elliot and Jock Purdon, two Harraton miners and folk singers - I'd never seen this banner before, though it is ten years old -
And finally on Elvet Bridge we caught up with the NASUWT, and samarcand and family, and marched very slowly with them, which gave us plenty of time to chat, and an excuse to be right there with the band when their turn came to play to the guests assembled on the balcony of the Royal County Hotel (another thing I've never done before, and quite an experience).
We took a break in the shade on the bank by the prison, opposite the man selling bubble guns, and watched the bands marching past, and the bubbles drifting by; and then we went down onto the racecourse, to listen to the speeches. Jeremy Corbyn, invited to speak briefly, told us what we wanted to hear, and was applauded at the end of every sentence (and sometimes in mid-sentence as well); the other speakers were fine, but there were no surprises, and when Owen Jones came on, I decided I'd had enough, and wandered off for a look round. Most years we see people we know, but not this year, although now it's over I'm hearing from people who were there...
By now it was mid-afternoon, I was hungry, and I could feel the sun burning the back of my neck - so we headed for the Café Continental, which has become part of our Gala day tradition, for a late lunch within sight and hearing of the bands heading homewards. The fine weather had brought them plenty of custom, and there was a very reduced choice of sandwiches, but there were chips and beer to go with them, and a ringside seat. And then home, through streets still crowded and sounding with brass.