Thursday, 14 August 2008

CND Memories

To the old Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury for a small photographic exhibition on the early history of CND.

I’m struck by how innocent, middle class-eccentric, and peculiarly English it all looks. Lots of duffel coats, beatnik beards and NHS glasses in evidence. I’m also surprised at how elderly many of the protestors are. At the time, the early 1960’s, their age would mean that their views had been shaped by memories of the First World War and the pacifism of the inter-war years.

Even the images of the police look benign – not the paramilitary clobber we are used to seeing on demos these days – definitely more Dixon Of Dock Green than Robocop. There’s nothing innocent about the images of them manhandling protestors though.

My own experiences of CND date back twenty years later to the 1980’s. Like many people of my generation CND was a massive formative influence – but I still smile when I remember one of the first meetings I attended. Me and a mate were eager to demonstrate our new-found political awareness and spoke about the ‘capitalist system’ – a member of the local group corrected us ; ‘we prefer to call it greediness’…

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