After the Pro EU conference in Westminster in the autumn of 2017, my abiding memory was the message ‘don’t just wait for other people to organize something to fight Brexit, do something yourself’. I went home feeling inspired but useless. A week or so later I hear that IDS had declared ‘We are all Brexiteers now’ and was furious I thought “I’ll bloody show you”.
My anger is driven by a horror of my grandchildren growing up in Farage land, where casual racism is ok, employment rights are eroded and men like David Davies are seen as Statesmen. I can’t debate the merits of the single market but I know Brexit is a horror socially and culturally for this country.
I know there are many people who are as angry as I am but most of the people I know aren’t on Facebook - so I decided to email about 20 people and ask if they’d be up for supporting me if I organized something.
My dear friend Sue, who I share my ideas with, provided me with a sounding board, encouragement and good advice. I am an enthusiast - which can be a mixed blessing and an angry enthusiast can be a dangerous thing! But I also have good organizational skills. Sue approached her choir master to see if he would help us with the music. Once he was on board I knew we could make a Flash Mob work.
The choir master picked the first date and then we got planning. I emailed my friends with the date and basic outline and asked them to email other people. A few of them were very active emailing book clubs, walking groups, choirs and friends in general. In the end around 60-70% of the 100+ people who came were not on Facebook.
What is the point of people standing with flags and singing in central Canterbury if nobody knows about it? I’d joined Stephen Bray the previous week and been inspired by his live streaming and decided that filming and photography were a key part of this.
I always try to wear an EU badge and engage anyone in conversation to gain support. By chance in the supermarket I got talking to a neighbour I hardly knew. She looked nervous when I asked her how she felt about Brexit but relaxed when I pointed at my badge. I asked if she had any photographic skills or a decent camera…. Her reply was “do you know my husband is a film maker … and he is really angry about Brexit” Yippee!
I believe that I managed to achieve the two aims I set out to achieve. Firstly, I wanted to make sure that the politicians and press got the message that we’re not “all Brexiteers now”. Secondly, I wanted to show support for all the campaigners who are putting their lives and relationships on hold and placing their careers in jeopardy.
After the first flash mob I ran home and spent many hours emailing and tweeting… my phone soon started vibrating constantly with likes and retweets and didn’t stop for 36 hours! The live streaming and edited video have accumulated over 83k views and I’ve learnt a lot, so I’ve produced and idiots guide to organizing a Flash Mob.
If I can do it anyone can. The flash mobs won’t stop Brexit but they’ll contribute to raising awareness
Just as importantly, I’ll know that I did everything that I could to help.