It was way back in 2012. I had the chance to drive over the hills to the A34 and enjoy the sunshine purely because I was on a mission to get to London.
I told myself as I walked along the familiar streets to Belgrave Square that it would be a disaster, no one would be there, they'd be horrible, not welcoming etc, so I wouldn't get my hopes up. I even approach going to the supermarket with an expectation of potentially bumping into someone I know! So this is a necessary precaution for me.
Anyway, I worked out that the women stood together and the men separately. But us London types intermingle, so I did that too.
One woman told me she'd been on many demonstrations before, in Iran and now in the UK. I haven't seen her since, maybe I need to go on more demos :)
Another woman told me she was Shia, clearly expecting me to know what this meant, which I did, very approximately, so I replied that I was Quaker, again expecting her to have heard of this term.
It was great to get hoots from cars as we walked in the very middle of the normally busiest part of London, round Hyde Park Corner and up Park Lane.
I lurked at the back when we were in front of the Saudi embassy. At the end I turned into my most pretentious and enthusiastic self and even said thank you to the various police officers who had marshalled us.
I took the hand of a woman I was standing with and went over to say thank you to one of the guys with a gun right in front of the Saudi Embassy. She was totally astounded at the concept of going up to him and chatting!!
I said we wouldn't need to protest again, this would do it! He was funny and said that the protesters never give up. I found that surprisingly encouraging. He also told me about the police officers' favourite cafe round the corner. I'll go there on a pilgrimage one day, to celebrate the whole protesting and policing ritual.
Then I knocked on the window of the big police van full of officers. They were a bit surprised to get a collective thank you as well, but I couldn't ever say this was my first demo again :)
I was just so glad to get in and out alive, I had had visions of being kettled or being hit on the head by a fire extinguisher (Brian Ferry's son chucked one off the roof of a building) or even being killed like Ian Tomlinson. I hadn't drunk much so I wouldn't get caught short. It's nerve-wracking.