Thursday was the Conference "London Day." The day consisted of a "Walk of Witness," lunch at Lambeth Palace, and tea at Buckingham Palace, before taking the buses back to UKC.
It was the day when the stewards had to get 1300 people onto 34 buses four times, three of which had to be done quickly. Luckily, I was not one of those stewards.
Two staff members, nine other stewards and I, left UKC at 6:00am to arrive in London before the other buses. We basically had to find toilets, find the Walk's starting point, and figure out the best path to get from the buses drop off point to these places.
It does figure, a bit, that my first time in London would be for a march.
Part of my reason for wanting to be on the early bus was to actually have some time to see London. While we didn't have much time, we did walk to Trafalgar Square and one of the Brits who was with us told us about the different places we saw and passed along the way.
During the march itself, which was to raise awareness about the MDGs my task was to walk up and down the sides of the march and ensure that no one was hurt, overly tired, or for any reason needed to be pulled out, as well as keeping any counter-demonstrators away. None of this proved to be an issue, and it was good exercise. There were rickshaws in the back for anyone who couldn't do the walk.
It was amazing walking past parliament and across Lambeth Bridge over the Thames.
The walk ended at Lambeth Palace where we listened to a speech by PM Gordon Brown. The speech itself was quite good. It was loud and called for an end to poverty. Now if only his (and our) government's policy reflected this... because if our governments truly wanted an end to poverty, there wouldn't be any.
Once we were near the tent outside the palace and we could take off our orange jackets all of the stewards were amazed how good we could look. As we walked to the tent we were treated to a concert of steel drums and dancing played by children from the Archbishop's School. During a delicious lunch most of us were seated randomly, and I was seated with another steward (from the UK), The bishop of Newark and his wife, ditto the bishop of West Missouri, Martha Gardner from 815, the bishop of Wyoming, and a bishop from Fiji.
The bishop from Figi was quiet, but very interesting, and actually stated that he wished the female bishops would participate more during discussions!
We then quickly loaded the buses to get everyone to Buckingham Palace. We couldn't bring cameras into the palace, but it was a good time, if not more than a bit ridiculous. The parts of the inside of the palace we were able to see were beautiful and the gardens were, unsurprisingly, perfect. They managed to be perfectly put together without looking overly contrived.
The band at the palace, in their military garb, played theme songs and soundtracks all afternoon, including Oliver, The Incredibles , James Bond and I Got Rhythm. The iced coffee was fabulous.
We then got back on the buses and took the two hour drive home for a staff meeting and drinking G&Ts and watching "The Queen" on DVD.