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Buses, Gay Pride and a bird’s eye view of Britain in the 1920s

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John Penrose

John David Penrose is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare

We all know the old gag about waiting ages for a bus and then three come along at once. Well, something like that – or an extreme version of it – seems to have been happening this year in the UK.

It doesn’t involve buses but, rather, big ticket events – and the Olympic and Paralympic Games are but the largest bus in the convoy – that contribute a buzz to public life, put a spring in our step and generally cheer us all up. They also help our tourism businesses showcase their wares, in spite of the bleedin’ awful weather…

Euro 2012 and Wimbledon

A Torchbearer at Lincoln Castle on day 41 of the Torch RelayAnd so it is that the Jubilee folds into Euro 2012* which handily finishes (trying to put a positive spin on yet another penalties disappointment) just in time for Wimbledon, while the Olympic Torch continues its popular and spell-binding trip through the UK and the London 2012 Festival dazzles for three glorious months.

WorldPride 2012

The only (rather unfair) exception to all this attention is WorldPride 2012 which, for some reason, isn’t getting the publicity you might expect. It’s the World’s biggest festival and parade supporting and celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, happening every five years or so, with London being the chosen city for this year’s bash.
Notwithstanding some problems with sponsorship that mean that it has had to be scaled down from original hopes, it could bring as many as a million people to our streets.
So it’s hardly small potatoes, and certainly deserves an honourable mention in amongst all the other fun and games this summer. The culmination of the whole thing is a parade on Saturday, with speakers and a concert in Trafalgar Square.

Our Man in Berlin

Allied to all this, I was interested to see another of those dispatches from our overseas embassies which rather cleverly tied in the whole celebratory flair of the Pride movement with our GREAT messages.
Gay Pride parade in BerlinIt turns out our man in Berlin, Simon McDonald, revved up the embassy’s ‘Technology and Innovation is GREAT’ bus and played a leading role in that city’s Gay Pride parade on 23 June, an event that drew an incredible 700,000 people to take part. That’s a collection of people equivalent to the population of Leeds, coming together for a cause.

Great and GREAT

The Berlin event was dedicated to Alan Turing, who was born 100 years ago on that day, and drew huge media coverage which, in turn, has generated enormous goodwill, and great\GREAT imagery.
As mentioned above, the London parade looks set to be even bigger, and offers a wonderful opportunity for the capital to show off once again what it can do in providing a warm welcome to huge numbers.

View from the top

What else? I know. A big blog shout-out to English Heritage for their Britain from Above exercise where they have put 15,000 or so historic aerial pictures of Britain on their website. It’s brilliant.
And it’s all easily navigable too so that, if you’re interested in somewhere like – I don’t know – Weston-super-Mare, then you’re just two clicks away from getting 33 shots of the town from the 1920s on your screen.

*Ok, I know that the UK did not host Euro 2012 but the number of pubs, clubs and outdoor events promoting it for the benefit of local supporters was pretty huge, not to mention the thousands of union flags fluttering from car wing mirrors and bedroom windows.
Torch Relay image ©LOCOG
Gay Pride in Berlin image ©Nicole Roberts/British Embassy in Berlin

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