Today is the International Day Of Peace. I found out at the last minute that there was a walk so I joined in at Borough Market.
I chatted to people, met some amazing women who had given out hundreds of roses after the Finsbury Park mosque attack, a man who is walking 1000 miles for peace, a woman who told me she has been protesting for 30 years:
“This and that” she said “all the usual stuff"
Then I met a woman from Blackpool, we talked about the recent exhibition at the Imperial War museum which we’d both been to, about the history of the peace movement
“All the placards from way back then, we could use them now” she said “but we have to march and walk and protest because if we didn’t if could be worse"
On the southbank we all handed out flowers to strangers and people smiled and said “Happy Peace Day “ back to us.
The man who is walking 1000 miles for peace said to me “The sky looks like it is on fire” and then I noticed how beautiful the sunset was.
I walked on my own for a bit and thought about just like everything else (kindness, compassion etc.) we have to change ourselves before we can change the world. So we have to aim to be peaceful in our daily lives, turn anger into positive action, be nice to ourselves too. Which is difficult sometimes. I find it difficult, to be at peace with myself, to just go easy on myself sometimes.
On Westminster Bridge we threw flowers into the water
Then I walked back to Waterloo station. I went into Foyles to see if they had my book on their shelves. I handed the women on the counter my last two flowers
Me: You have my book over there. This is so exciting for me because I love this shop.Shall I sign it?
Foyles woman: yes
Me: Oh but I just realised you don’t know I am me
Foyles woman: I trust you
This week i’ve been visiting Kensal Green cemetery, with Vanessa Woolfe Hoyle, story hunting ready for our event, a storytelling walk, for London Month of the Dead. Along the main path there are grand monuments to those who went to war and conquered. Further back are other people: tight rope walkers and tailors, actors and factory workers.
I wish less big monuments were to celebrate war, I thought. On the way home, I imagined them all coming to life, the generals on horseback, and the captains and bomber pilots, throwing down their weapons, taking off their uniforms and wandering off naked, whistling, happy to have a rest and not to have to be standing in bronze and marble attention for hundreds of years. All the plinths and town squares would be empty for a bit, then they’d be filled with statues of comedians and cooks,ballet dancers and plumbers, someone’s nan who was really nice, a favourite dog.
Three years ago, in a writing workshop I was doing in a library in Deptford, a little boy said to me: “Imagine if all of a sudden there were no bullets, just marshmallows flying about that you’d have to catch with your mouth or save for your brother. That’d be funny. It would just stay like that. No one knows why."
I’d like that.
I’m going to work on being peaceful this week.