I woke up with anticipation on Saturday morning to the wailing of ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen (the Eurovision winner this year!). It was WorldPride in London and I was marching in the parade with colleagues from work. I was terribly excited as it was the first time I was going to be in the parade and not a spectator. There had been a sense of disappointment leading up to Pride in London this year. We had heard stories about a lack of funding, little support from the Mayor’s office and cutbacks which were going to impact the scale of the event. All the floats were cut and there was going to be no street parties unlike the previous years. This was sad considering we were hosting World Pride in London!
In the past, post parade, we would walk into Soho past Trafalgar Square and there was always a fantastic festive atmosphere with street parties everywhere. Everyone was there to support each other – gay, straight, lesbian, parents, siblings, children – it was all about being there for each other and standing up against discrimination, and of course, to have one mad party.
I got to Baker Street at 10 am as planned with my friend JE. We were both going to join different walking groups. For the first time, the tubes were not packed with people in rainbow flags going to Pride, it was a strange feeling. However everything changed when we got to Baker Street. As I came up the escalators, expecting a luke warm atmosphere, the station just erupted in an explosion of colour, excitement and of course sequins! It was pouring, but people were out in large numbers. Baker Street was filled with thousands of people looking for their groups. People of all sizes, shapes, colours – From ambulance workers to us corporate types, from the Gay and Lesbian Underwater Group (GLUG) to Stonewall! People were out in full force waiting to make a stance against homophobia.
The organisation of the parade was not particularly good. We waited around for quite a while before we got started at 12:30pm. My walking group, a group of LGBT employees from my company proudly marched down the parade route. Our group was not extravagant; we were only 14 of us in the company’s branded tee shirts and a banner saying ‘Celebrating diversity and equality with pride’, surrounded by others in colour, with music and in fancy dress. Still, many people along the parade’s route cheered us on and came up to take pictures with us. People recognised our brand along the way and some other employees who were among the spectators came running up to get pictures of us. When we turned the corner at Trafalgar square, we heard loud shrieks from the crowd! J and my gang of friends were there to cheer us on. Screaming away as we passed, they were there in full force! It was overwhelming!
After the parade we walked into Soho to get a few drinks. I was with my boys, the gang that came up to Liverpool (if you have been reading this post) and we sat around in one of the bars in Soho listening to excitement in the crowd. It was a sort of reunion, JB came back from Ireland, to say goodbye as he is now moving to the States. It was the last time for a while that we would all be together.
I am still livid with the city council for their lack of support. Rumour has it that Smirnoff was willing to sponsor pride this year but the Mayor’s office said that their sponsorship had come in too late! It was a rescue attempt, there is no ‘too late’ in those circumstances. The Mayor decided not to walk in the parade, even though he was the one who won us the World Pride contract! This was supposed to be London showing the world that we lead the way in stamping our discrimination and City Hall’s seeming lack of initiative to put on a truly extravagant show was very disappointing. However despite the politician’s stance, the police were incredible, supporting the parade all way. They were along the parade’s route cheering us on and being extremely supportive, many were wearing Stonewall’s famous slogan ‘Some people are gay get over it’ stickers on their vests. St Martin’s in the Fields, a Church of England church even flew the pride flag in Trafalgar Square.
Pride still turned out to be a cracking day. Even though there were no big parties in the square or all the extravagant floats and celebrations, it was the longest parade London has seen (25,000 people). I was with some of my closest friends and of course J was there by my side. We ended the night with some delicious burgers and were in bed by 10:30 pm, a first for us as we would be usually dancing till the early hours in the past. It just goes to show that you don’t need to have a big party and a massive corporate sponsorship to be proud of who you are. The spirit of the festival is made up of the people you are with and engendered in how you feel about yourself. And I was proud to be with some fantastic people who made it a memorable day!
Lemon and Pepper Sea Bass, Crushed Potatoes and Garlic Buttered Spinach.
JB took me and J out for lunch on Sunday. I was looking through the menu in the restaurant and like my mother used to always say, thought to myself ‘I can make that at home!’. So here is a dish inspired by Jamie Oliver but designed entirely by me.
Serves 2 people
For the Sea Bass
You will need:
2 x fillets of Sea Bass
Zest of ½ lemon
Fresh crushed pepper
Salt to taste
1 ½ teaspoon of freshly chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Place the sea bass fillets in a bowl and rub all the ingredients except the oil all over the fish. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 mins. Heat the oil in a frying pan till hot. Fry the fish on both sides till the meat becomes an opaque white colour.
For the Potatoes
You will need
3 large potatoes quartered and washed but not peeled
1 large leek chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
3-4 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes in a saucepan. I would put the potatoes to boil before I marinate the fish, this will give you a head start and if timed well, your mash should be ready by the time you put your fish on the fire. When the potatoes are soft, check with a fork to see if it goes through easily, drain the water and transfer to a large pot. Mix in all the other ingredients and mash well. Your mash should be creamy. To keep warm, create a bain-marie – heat some water in a large pot, then put your potatoes in a glass mixing bown and place over the water on medium – low heat and cover. This should keep the mash warm without drying it out.
For the Spinach
You will need
250 gms of spinach leaves
3 cloves of garlic
50 gms of butter
1 large white onion diced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crushed pepper
Salt to taste
Heat the butter in the pan till it melts. When the butter is hot, add the onions and garlic and fry nicely. Add in the pepper and the Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Add the spinach and let it wilt mixing well with all the other ingredients. Season and keep warm ready to plate. The spinach goes cold very quickly so make sure you serve it warm.