I met Bruce Kent, formerly Monsignor but now desocked- he is not allowed to wear black or grey socks ever again. (Or something, which may even be sillier.) He is 85, and married. When I said I was cold, he told me it was because of my thin shoes in the mud, so I can say I have been advised personally by Bruce Kent on anti-nuclear protest. He was wearing a shabby coat, £10 from a charity shop, initially from Harrods.
It was very cold. It was sunny, but windy. With a Quaker I erected the toilet tent, just beyond the tea stall. A pole broke and someone splinted it with a twig, and added a bit of thick rope as an extra guy. It was nearly blowing away, so we took it down. Twice, older women solicitously offered me a cup of hot tea to warm me up.
I met an old Quaker woman, disabled, less than five feet tall, and a girl of sixteen whose father had protested at Aldermaston and who did not want another generation to have to protest too. Both helped block the Construction gate.
I met Pat, general secretary of Pax Christi, and we sang in worship together. She is soon off to the Palestinian territories to meet peace groups and EAPPI workers. She was in at the start of Trident Ploughshares, and had an additional non-violence principle: they should be completely open about who they were and what they were doing at all times. That was not one of the ones I was asked to assent to:
- Our attitude will be one of sincerity and respect towards the people we encounter
- We will not engage in physical violence or verbal abuse toward any individual
- We will not carry any weapons
- We will not bring or use alcohol or drugs other than for medical purposes
- We will clear the blockade to allow emergency vehicles in or out of the site and resume the blockade afterwards
I met Rebecca, vice president of CND, when I joined in with her singing from the Trident Oratorio. When they sang it at Parliament House in Edinburgh, the baillies tried to move them on but the Advocates told them to stay. She has sung it while blockading: the police did not arrest, seeing how harmless they were. She sees how I love singing, and I confessed that being baritone I had to be careful where I sang- she offered me the chance to sing the whole thing, at a protest. I may do.
The rector of the parish church led us in worship. How relevant is Christianity? We prayed,
Lead us from Death to Life,
from falsehood to truth,
from fear to trust
Lead us from hate to love
Lead us from war to peace
Let Peace fill our hearts, our world, our Universe.
Even if you don’t believe in the God to whom we pray, the sentiments are universal. After, we offered one another a sign of peace, and I shook hands with a policeman. We worshipped on our side of the road, committing an offence.
Someone commented I was brave, coming so far to this without knowing anyone. I felt the people would be generous and self-sacrificing, and that I would be alright. I was.
Three women in lab coats and drawn-on facial hair brought a cardboard missile, designed to spread Love.