Perhaps taking a newborn on one of the biggest ever peace marches was pretty foolish. By the time the icy wind was teasing my bare ears and hissing across the face of my month-old daughter, it was too late to turn back. We were trapped on the Strand. Every side road was sealed with barriers and guarded by bored-looking police stopping potential toilet-goers from turning the posh alleys near the Savoy into pissoirs.
It became difficult as the long day wore on not to feel claustrophobic in the midst of the gently nudging, shuffling sea of arms and faces. To break the monotony I read all the banners I could. My all-time favourite home-made political statement is still "Eat the rich. Feed the poor"; I also found myself intrigued by the one that read "Sex workers of the world unite". It was being held high by several women in feather boas, all giggling and stamping high-heeled feet on the freezing tarmac. What were they uniting for or against? It didn't say. Still, it's enough for the Whitehall philanderers to know that these women may deny their services if the war against Iraq goes ahead. The power of sex can still refresh the parts of the political machine that our votes cannot reach.
Then there were the Christians against the war, men with beards declaring "Class war to stop war" and, best of all, a group of grungies taking turns to hold a sign saying "Thatcherism against the war".
The sheer volume of people made traditional chants impossible. Instead, there was an ebb and flow of sound that would wash over us every ten minutes or so. From two miles behind us, along the Embankment a cheer would go up accompanied by the blare of horns and the screech of thousands of whistles. You'd feel it on the back of your neck and then just as it washed over us, our section of the march would whoop and holler and blow as well. It was a Mexican wave of sound that sent shivers up the spine and gave me goose bumps.
After two hours shuffling besides the Thames we reached Big Ben. The old bell tried to "bong" at 2pm but was drowned out by one of the sound waves shaking Parliament Square. At last a woman just to my right got her nerve up and yelled. "Oi, you over there," she pointed at the Commons, "we don't like Bush and we don't like Blair." It was simple enough to catch on - and did half a dozen rounds before it petered out and we all went back to blowing on our hands or calling mates on mobiles.
We'd been walking for more than three hours when the baby started mewling for some food. In the morning's anarchy I had forgotten to prepare a bottle, so there was only one thing to do: hoist layers of clothes up to my neck and breastfeed her on the hoof, bumping the pram forward with my hips. Every so often a co-marcher would glance with surprise at the bare, white, frozen flesh of my stomach and the little hooded head contentedly chewing away. A young girl next to me noticed us and cooed, "Wow, that is soooo cool." I would have enjoyed my time as the ultimate "right-on mum" if it hadn't been about minus two and if I had had the arms of an Icelandic strongman, that didn't twitch and cramp up while carrying a 10lb weight at chest height for more than 40 minutes. Just as my breathing began to get heavier, the woman next to me leant closer and whispered sympathetically:
"I think your baby's asleep, love."
Sure enough, baby Holly's head was lolling contentedly about an inch away from a nipple so still and solidified that it must have been moments away from having icicles underneath.
In years to come when Holly asks me "Mum, what did you do to stop World War III?", I can proudly tell her that I risked my posture and my nipples for peace.