Banners and marching.
Carrying on where I left off yesterday with the image of the banners. Finding that photograph reminded me of all the occasions on which I have marched with a banner. When I started I didn’t have a proper camera but I always had my sketch book, Sadly in the early days I didn’t put the dates, it took me a long time to realise how important that can be.
The end of the march in Hyde Park where people rested and waited for friends. When you are marching along you are not always aware of the scale of the whole thing. In Hyde Park you could see banners from all over the country and from abroad.
Friends from Waltrop marching with Herne Bay. Interesting for me to see the curly haired guy with the tie walking in front of the banner, he is Brian, once one of my students who is probably a grandfather by now!
My first march was in 1961, a CND Aldermaston March on Easter Monday. I didn’t march the whole way, just for the last day. I went on several more after that. I do remember being impressed by the mixture of people of all ages, from babies being pushed in prams through to old people with sticks.The government were issuing ridiculous surrealist type booklets giving you advice about how to survive a nuclear attack! I later visited the women at Greenham Common for the Surround the Base day. I have written a five minute radio play about the experience. It was recorded for the International Radio play Festival.
Later I went on a demonstration and march at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire. The Americans had a missile base there. It was pouring with rain and part of the way was around fields outside the perimeter fence. There was so much mud that everyone was caked with it, of course the objective was a serious one but that didn’t mean people couldn’t laugh and sing. By a strange serendipity I have the radio on in the background as I write this…and what have I just heard ‘Ubi Caritas’ which is one of the chants that the marchers sang.
In those days I was just as worried about chemical and biological weapons (how right I was) and I remember one all night march around the perimeter of Portion Down with stops for silent vigils. I think that one is still fresh in my mind because of the dogs and soldiers… always about thirty yards from us inside the facility. It now seems that chemical weapons and cyber war are the danger zone of our age.
I usually marched with the Quakers but I knew lots of people in the Herne Bay CND. and sometimes joined them. I took some iconic shots in London, I wish I had taken the time to get the right exposure, not easy against the huge light of the sky, my focus was ropey too!
It must have been a hot Easter that year. People had begun to straggle by this time.
Banners, there were always banners and posters, some home made and some professional.
My friends Ken and Rose carrying a nuclear winter banner.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation with a striking transparent example.
Now this really is a professional historic banner belonging to the Kent Miners Union.
I made this banner recently to be carried in procession in the Cathedral service for Peace and Reconciliation.
Herne Bay CND had the best on foot entries in the Herne Bay Carnival. Here is a very stylish offering but I also remember a really imaginative and well made chess set.
There have been issues closer to home, the Americans were going to use Manston runway for their bombers.
I don’t think we posed much of a threat to public security but we had to give our names.
I went to the march against the war in Iraq. It was pretty plain that my marching days were nearly over as I was already using a stick. I had intended to just go to Trafalgar Square, stand on the steps of St. Martins and cheer them on but I got swept up in the crowd and found myself in a kind of pen on the Embankment There were so many people that they were not letting too many people start marching at one time, probably sensible to avoid a crush. We waited so long to start moving that the front walkers had already got to Hyde Park before we could even begin.I only managed it to Trafalgar Square but I am glad I went to make my last on foot protest.