Poetry & Music -
2nd May 2017
with Mike Parsons David Kessel, Abe Gibson,
and Roger Hoddle.
floor spots come early...
Powis Road (off Bruce Road) E3 3HJ see map
Bow Road or Bromley by Bow Tube/Bow Church DLR
3-Bees Cafe 4 - 8: bring a bottle/cans
Austerity Door Policy - give what you can afford
Words for Greenham Torquay 1.6.83
(for Suzanna and Isabelle)
We come for peace.
To put an end
to man's ridiculous fear
of all that's hidden.
We know the moon
her axis bold
and groom our slender children, shy with lost longing.
Your face, your smile is heaven's breath
upon a cloudless day.
and send him on his way.
sends me crashing to my knees,
empowered by God's command
to set the captives free.
We, all of us, captives
each of our own making
speed of the pacing
reach for that never ending sea.
Our love, we give, to catch you when you fall.
Peace, what we're suffering for
to speak unpained, with ease at rest
Not with some other worthless task impressed.
from Crusade against Cruise
Dragon Day 2nd July 1983
For Sarah Meyer and the Women of Greenham
One day, a world to share
no longer struggling to be free
One day, a chance
for you and me and all of us
to care, to see, someday a better role;
no need remaining to be told
a world of peace beyond our deepest dreams
and darkest nights.
So when tonight, this first sliver of moon
passes quickly on its tide
The scotsman bowing seven times in awe
if, when this tiresome task is finally complete
when the last U.S missile leaves our English soil
when our words no longer have fear
and we can safely share our joy
when all regrets are battered away
when we out run the
when no fight remains,
when words express
and we avoid this prefaced glare
of our new age
if perhaps we will find peace and be still?
They cannot move your silence.
They cannot draw their water
without thinking of you;
every last drop filtering through the fire of your commitment.
Your love and compassion,
a lantern in the dusk of this coming night
before the dawn
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is preparing to mark the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the first activists at the then US Air Force base of Greenham Common. This event heralded the start of one of the most iconic anti-nuclear protests of the Cold War and was a defining experience for a whole generation of political campaigners.
In September 1981 a group of women opposed to the decision to base US nuclear-tipped Cruise Missiles at Greenham Common and Molesworth arrived at the end of a 120 mile march from Cardiff. Under the title 'Women for Life on Earth', the 36 women, together with male supporters, delivered a letter to the Base Commander requesting a discussion on the expected arrival of the missiles. When that was not forthcoming the group decided to remain at the base as a peace camp. From these small beginnings, little noticed by the media, there grew a series of camps surrounding the base, the last of which persisted for 19 years.
The peace camp, which became women-only in 1982 saw thousands live in very basic conditions in all weathers with the constant threat of eviction, often brutally executed and ongoing harassment from police, military or vigilantes. The camp organised ongoing peaceful protests against the base and Cruise missiles, ranging from decorating and cutting the perimeter fence through to blockading the roads and infiltrating the base and disabling the missile convoy vehicles. Other protests grew from the camp, such as when around 30,000 women "embraced the base" on 12th December 1982 or when four miles of fence were simultaneously taken down on October 29th 1983. CND co-ordinated other actions with the camp such as during Easter 1983 when around 70,000 campaigners formed a 14 mile long human chain linking the nuclear warhead factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield to Greenham Common.
Kate Hudson, the General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said, "The women's peace camp at Greenham Common has rightly achieved iconic status nationally and internationally over the last three decades. Not only was it creative and innovative in terms of its campaigning methods and gender profile, it also moved and provoked new generations of women into action, many of whom have been profoundly shaped by the experience and inspiration of Greenham. The example of the camp also led to many others being established across Britain and internationally. On occasion pulling down miles of the perimeter fence and even dancing on the missile silos, the women demonstrated a determination for disarmament that even the brutality of the security services could not deter."
"In December 1982 I was one of over 30,000 women who held hands around the base at Greenham. One of my earliest experiences of the peace movement, it transformed my approach to politics and action - as it did for countless others. It is just and fitting to pay tribute to the Greenham women at this time: cruise missiles were eventually removed from Britain - and their protest played no small part in creating the conditions for that victory."
Cruise missiles - which were designed to make a 'limited' nuclear war 'winnable' within the 'European theatre were carried on trucks whose convoys were said to be able to 'melt into the countryside', making most of southern Britain and the Midlands a potential target for a counter-attack. Members of 'Cruisewatch' tracked and often disrupted the movements of the convoys, making a mockery of the claim that the missiles carrying convoys - that would often stretch to more than a quarter of a mile long - would be undetectable by the Soviet Union.
The campaigns of the camp greatly contributed to the popular demand for disarmament that led to the signing of the INF Treaty in 1987 (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty) which mandated the removal of the Cruise missiles. The US returned the base to British control in 1992 with the common land returned to local people in 1997. The last campers departed after holding a New Year's Eve party in December 1999 with a commemorative garden opened in October 2002.