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Apres Henge -Convoy to Greenham.
So whatever happened to the travellers when they LEFT Stonehenge ?, my good friend Convoy Steve, tells one of the many tales.
It all started in 1982 - 3 years after Manky Snatcher , well known female impersonater, Prime Monster and cheese mechanic , was installed by the heirs of Standard Oil and The Illuminatus into the big chair in the Houses of Argument, London.
Within a very short time Manky and her monetarist cronies helped reduce Albion to a wasteland - factories were closing by the thousand, millions of people were facing life on the dole, Punk was rife , nihilism was even rifer and lack of prospects was so rife that even if Ronny Rife and the Rifles had just issued a double album with all of the missing songs from Sergeant Pepper and Pet sounds they could'nt have been more riferer (?).
Free festivals were in their ascendancy and gatherings, that for many years had been small hippy affairs,swelled to many thousands of people. Suddenly, life on the road in an old £300 1960's bus, truck or trailer seemed like a bloody good option weighed against the prospect of life on the dole in some kakky city where the only values being espoused by the Ring Wraiths (as the Tory Government came to be known) were those of me, me , me and more me - what was a poor boy to do ("well, you could join a rock and roll band luv . . ." , yes and fuck you too Mick Jagger !!).
Five of you - £60 each , forget about the Tax and Insurance (fascist claptrap), lets just chuck a few mattresses in the back of the Bella Vega and head for the nearest festival where we will be welcomed with open arms and be swallowed up into the new age traveller family bosom - and what a beautiful, bountiful and jolly socially diverse bosom it was; anarchists, venusians, pikies, pixies, conspiracy fugitives, Kray associates, old school, new school, never been to fucking school - wheeler, dealers, medicine spielers - tryers, flyers, out and out liars - saints, sinners , all of them winners - all of them strangers in their own very strange land.
© Time Tortoise
There were just enough old timers - veterans of the wally's, diddycoy descendants, and past residents of some of the finest public schools/prisons in England, to fill the newcomers in about survival on the road
Tip 1 - Never leave your water barrel on the ground outside your gaff, dogs will piss on it.
Tip 2 - Lost children always wander downhill.
Tip 3 - Green ash will burn fine, green sycamore won't.
Tip 4 - Always bury your shit (very important).
Tip 5 - Squatting a bit of land owned by a public utility will get you 6 weeks at least before rhe bailiffs move.
and so on , and so on - there was so much learning going on it made the 10 years we'd all spent at school seem like a complete waste of time. The University of life was in full session and the pissed off, ripped off and inspired outlaws of Albion were enrolling on every course that was available. A great beautiful amorphous tribe of mechanics, bakers, tarot readers, carpenters, scrap metal collectors, teachers, nurses etc, etc.
I think it is safe to say that if Sherwood Forest had still stretched from Scarborough to Rugby the travellers of Manky Snatchers depression would have taken up residence right in the middle and Robin Hood and his Merry persons would have returned.
As it was, there being only 7 trees left in Albion, the brothers and sisters of the new age decided to band together and truck around en masse to green, open spaces of peace and beauty. It was at Stonehenge in 1982 that the Pooers that Bee were beginning to get a little bit concerned as to the next stopping place of the festival band.
© Time Tortoise
The previous year there had been a merry game on the M5/M6 for 12 hours as the forces of Law and Mordor tried in vain to thwart the brave and stout fellows leaving Inglestone Common Festival on their way to Deeply Vale - but by the use of native cunning and some inspired CB handles (Disgusting Reptile, Popeye, Red Leader, Green Apple and Dognut - aaah, names that just roll off yer tongue) the Greater Manchester police led by the man who talks to God - yes James Baby Eating Anderson himself - were eventually forced to allow us onto Pickup Bank and hold our Festival (does anyone remember Jack Straw, the local MP , visiting the site and laughing about the Hash cakes on sale and the Amyl Nitrayte factory in the Bank of D's ambulance ?) .
So, we had them rattled - and as the time came for us all to leave the beautiful lands of Salisbury Plain, strangers began to appear and questions were subtley put to all manner of people as to the next destination - now we knew full well that there was no way that the old bill were going to allow 150 buses, trucks and assorted caravans onto another site without a struggle so we began a programme of disinformation and deception - sort of like an alternative MI6 with dreadlocks - rumours were casually passed on to the plod that Old Sarum or Inglestone Common or Windsor were the next stopping place whilst all the while we had reconnoitred the site of our next gathering - GreenHam Common.
Yes my friends, GreenHam Common - home to enough Intercontinental long pointy bangy things to wipe out all human, frog and cat life for ever. There had been a womens peace camp there for a few years and we decided to visit them and show solidarity with their sacrifice.
At the appointed hour a huge revving of engines and blowing of hooters sounded and column after column of gaily painted vehicles lined up at the gate ready to leave the Stonehenge Festival and head for Greenham. There made five long lines, hundreds of yards long, radiating out from the exit like a giant cannabis leaf (totally unrehearsed but fascinatimg for the police helicopters overhead), and just so there would be no mistaking their honourable intentions, a stencil with the immortal words "Peace Convoy" was made and this hallowed epiphet (which would one day be spoken by Manky herself in the Houses of Argument) were sprayed on every thing that moved.
We set off - slowly snaking our way down the A 303/A 34 towards Newbury.
© Time Tortoise
© Time Tortoise
Now, the Old Bill wer'en't stupid, they quickly guessed where we were headed (and no doubt stood down the 2000 officers guarding 17 other possible sites around the country) and began to put up road blocks around Greenham.
As we approached the last roundabout before Newbury we came across two police motorcyclists parked in the middle of the road with knowing, patronising grins on their faces - "oh yes they thought, now we've got you where we want you they thought "and began to point towards the main gate of the Air base where they had all of their troops massed ready for the slaughter.
But they had'n't taken in to account the native cunning of their brave and stout foes - the lead vehicles of the Convoy nipped sharply around the perplexed officers (you should have seen their faces . .!!) and headed on to the next turn which takes you around the back of the base.
The Blue meanies were completely confused - had the hippy's gone completely mad, were they really going to Skegness after all or did Mushroom Jim have the fucking map upside down again!. Now it is at this stage in the tale that the reader should be let into a little secret (all police agents look away now - please) some days beforehand an advance scout party of clever chaps and chapesses had moseyed on over to the Common and scouted out another way in - round the back of the base was an old track that was completely overgrown but passable (just) by motorised caravans . . .
And so to plan X - The brave band of Laughing Liberators were headed right there and down it they went, through muddy puddles, under overhanging branches and overgrown trees - we had to cut several down that had grown up in middle of the track since the last time anyone had used it. Right through the middle of Greenham Forest they drove . . . bits of bus and caravan breaking off all over the place as they forced their way through the thick undergrowth until at last they emerged into the clearing by the main gate - totally behind the lines of police who where ready to capture us all and send us on our way.
Oh what joy and Jubilation in the Convoy camp, there was much sniggering and pointing and joke making at the Babylons expense -
Imagine the poor plod who had to explain that fuck up to his divisional commander the next day
"Well sir we had them all corraled in a tight formation on the A34 with 3 choppers in the air and and Sat Trac from the Americans keeping their Global Position and 1500 riot trained tactical squads deployed at all of the main gates and the USAF military police on red alert and then they sort of disappeared . . . . and came out of the trees in the middle of a clearing right by the main gate "
HIPPIES 1 AUTHORITIES 0
© Time Tortoise
Tee Hee - we did laugh !.
And so we had a great festy and went on to have many more.
There are still many folks out there who were on that convoy (you all know who you are so why not put finger to keypad and send this shark here some pictures and memories) and some who did not make it but are remembered in our hearts. Although we are all now split up all over the world (literally) , the spirit of brotherhood that we found on those long hot summer days will stay with us forever.
Henge History :1972-1984
Free festivals in the UK 1960-1992
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