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The Week That Was: Action Stations

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There was something eerie about getting the tube into central London on Saturday. My husband and I quizzed each other as we boarded an empty Piccadilly line carriage from Hammersmith to Green Park: What city-stopping event were we missing out on?

I finally joined the dots and worked out that the lack of shoppers and all those empty seats were down to the planned trade unions march, and not a nuclear apocalypse I'd somehow missed from the morning's news bulletins. Arriving in zone one ahead of the union members, police outnumbered tourists on the streets, before the quiet gave way to the TUC-organised crowds, which numbered anywhere between 100,000 and 130,000 depending on whose calculations you want to believe. Thousands more congregated in Glasgow and Belfast.

Support the march and the proposed strikes or not, the theme of Saturday's action - youth unemployment - is one that affects far too many to be ignored, and I'm not just talking about the million under 25s out of work.

At its most simple, that's a lot of people whose disposable income would usually be propping up the nation's bars, shops and restaurants. More complicated are the repercussions of an entire generation with too much time on their hands and no prospects, their skills and ideas left to waste.

According to the Guardian's Live Blog of the march, in amongst the many "austerity is failing" banners, one reading "Proud, Loud, Educated and Broke" was drawing particular attention. The 17-year-old wielding it probably has the same job prospects right now as the man who inspired her placard, Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who finally resigned on Friday, an inevitable outcome that might bring 'pleb-gate' to its end, but will do nothing to stop criticism that his party is out of touch with the general public.

Another teen making headlines this week was Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani blogger shot in the head by a Taliban gunman 12 days ago for her efforts in supporting the education of girls. Flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Monday, Malala was unconscious when she arrived in the UK, but has since emerged from her medically induced coma and is communicating with staff with paper and pen, while a tracheotomy tube in her throat helps her breathe but stops her speaking.

Despite her last memories being on the school bus where she was shot in the face and leg by the Taliban militant, according to her doctors, Malala appears to understand what has happened, and even asked them to thank all her supporters around the world.

It appears nothing will stop this outspoken young woman making sure her voice is heard. That's inspiring for all of us, no matter how old or young we might be.