If I was courageous, I was wonderfully rewarded for it.
Peter drove me to Swanston, feeling a little put-upon, and I took the train to Reading. I started a conversation by complimenting a woman’s black fedora. She had worn it for her little brother’s 18th birthday party, a family affair, but would not wear it in the street. I told her what I was intending, and she was impressed, smiling, eyes widening, voice getting warmer: she wished me well. I walked to the Meeting house, where I met-
How circumspect should I be? Circumspect with other people’s stuff. One man I met there wore a mask all the time. When asked his first name, he said “My name is Anon”. I met- people who impressed me, but do not want to say why. One suffered from ——– syndrome. One had a name which was ————. These small-talkish details which I would put in, normally, are not mine to share. “Don’t be on a database if you don’t have to,” I read. Yet when asked to find what we had in common, Anon remarked that his group all had degrees. At the Meeting-house, I met people rather like those I would normally expect to meet there, though even scruffier than normal- committed, believing or atheist, intelligent.
I am glad I went, and I can’t decide whether it was a failure or not.
We went on Monday to Burghfield, where the warheads for Trident are made. There are three gates to the factory: the “Construction Gate”, and the North and South ends of The Meerings, which sounds like any other picturesque Berkshire lane, except that it is MOD property. There was a green line painted on it. Cross that line without permission, and you have committed a criminal offence under the military by-laws.
At 5 am, groups of more hardened protesters went to the South end and the Construction gate, and blocked them. By 7am, the Christians and some others were at the North end, surrounded by police in yellow hi-vis jackets, apart from the Liaison officers in blue. There, we blocked half the exit. We had a worship service led by the Rector of Burghfield parish church, on the roadway but outside the green line, surrounded on three sides by police officers. We committed the criminal offence of blocking the Queen’s highway, but only the left, exit side: the right lane, for entrances, was closely guarded by the police.
So we caused some disruption. There would not normally be so many police officers there. Workers at the base, and supplies- we saw a van marked “gardening services”- could enter and exit by one gate only, rather than by three as usual. Those blockading the other gates might even imagine that they were being successful.
The police were reasonably friendly. I saw a woman attempt to sit on the right lane of the road, and be lifted out of the way. Had we attempted to block the whole of the North gate, they could have arrested us for it. We caused a small amount of disruption and expense, but not a great deal.