Back in the 1960s, two interests dominated my life - politics and photography. Looking through my negative archives it is surprising how rarely those two interests coincide. I well remember attending the great Anti Vietnam War demonstration in London in March 1968, but until today I thought that I had no photographic record of the event. But in searching through my archives for a suitable image for Sepia Saturday 195 which marks the International Day of Peace, I came across a short strip of negatives I must have shot on that day in Trafalgar Square. Although I have few photographs of the day, I have many memories of it, and so many of them seem to be in the form of mental images. Here are a few of them, fixed in some magical mental acid-hypo.
- Attending a camp in the woods at Jerusalem Farm on the night before the demo. Talking to a girl around a campfire. She was a trainee baker who had just been sacked from her job for decorating a whole batch of cakes with the peace symbol made out of icing sugar.
- Being told that the Fish and Chip shop in Luddenden, a few miles down the valley, was owned by a Communist who was giving free fish and chips to people attending the demo. Walking down to the village and finding a vast queue of young people outside the shop.
- Waking up in panic in the middle of the night, scrambling out of my sleeping bag and running through the woods as the word went around that there was a police raid. Coming out of hiding later only to discover it was a false alarm.
- Our bus taking us to London being stopped on the outskirts of the city by the police who with typical British politeness asked us all for our names and addresses. I still can't remember whose name and address I gave.
- The great peristaltic wave that forced the massive demonstration down the street leading to American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. The sight of the line of mounted police with batons holding the lines of demonstrators back.
- The realisation that a line of demonstrators would make contact with the line of police, get banged on the head or trod on by a horse, and then be carried away by the line immediately behind them, before the next line would advance into battle. The mathematical realisation that I was destined to be in one of the lines that would be hit rather than would carry away the wounded.
- My managing to work my way to the end of the line and make my escape into a hat shop before nipping off down a back alley.
I was reminded of all this by the Sepia Saturday 195 contribution of Hazel Ceej who quoted the great comedian George Carlin who said "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity". On that day 45 years ago I like to think that I made my own little contribution to peace - in more ways than one.
See how others have responded to the Sepia Saturday theme by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the various links.