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    This article from an unknown journal gives an excellent impression of what things were like inside the festival itself and is a huge contrast to the general press coverage . This is because the writer had some insight as to what the festival represented.
    The music was incidental, it was the gathering and the possibilities of what the gathering could achieve that was important to those that attended. But of course the mainstream press had no concept of this and simply lumped the event into the same genre as the commercial festivals, such as Knebworth and Reading, which were fun, but not spiritual gatherings . Which was ultimately what Windsor aspired to be and occasionally managed to become .

Half Free at Windsor.

    By nine o'clock Friday evening, we certainly weren't half a million strong (as the song tells us they were at Woodstock). We weren't even a hundred thousand. In fact, I doubt if there were more than two or three thousand of us up in the wood, spilling down over the Windsor hillside. 
The atmosphere was boy scout plus acid; surreptitious drags on king-sized spliffs -bush and tobacco nicely mixed, all courtesy of Rizla; and aromatic acridity of Afghani Black, campfire smoke, sandalwood joss. 
  The feeling was: there's strength in numbers. If just enough of us get it together and withdraw our consent from straight society, then there's nothing that straight society can do. And this feeling grew and grew until we all felt what power we could have. Outside the perimeter the "pigs" patrolled in their blue uniforms; roaming with their torches like strange predatory beasts: ready to fall on any one of us that - straggled; aching for the opportunity to carry out an anal or vaginal search, or preferably both. Within the fences, in the protected domain of .the Free Festival.  Secure in our magic circle, we moved and mingled with one another, safe from external threat; able to work out our differences and similarities for ourselves. 

  There was a genuine willingness, on the part of the drug dealers not to rip off their customers. It is an aspect of the conventional wisdom (or idiocy) of straight society to assume that drug pedlars are big, organized-crime, Mafia types, "who never touch it themselves"; but this simply isn't true. The vast percentage of dealing goes on among friends, or between groups who have achieved some sort of affiliation  through action. One day this person will have dope in excess of his needs, and will sell off the remainder. Another day, another person. At Windsor Free Festival it was case of an individual sitting down at a camp fire with a group of strangers, getting to know them, accepting the joints they were passing round. Eventually perhaps he would make a purchase, or perhaps not; it didn't really  matter. Sooner or later he would bump into a guy on his milk round, doling out the grass in quid deals. Or he would meet someone in a red shirt with shoulder length blond hair, innumerable tabs of acid hermetically sealed in plastic strips hanging from his belt, scissors in hand to cut out the green micro-dots, 50 pence a tab, just a shaving shaved off with a razor is all you need. (And in fact, on the bank holiday Sunday. the Windsor Freek Press carried a dope report warning. "Green  micro- dot, strong, mixed opinions on this one; brown micro-dot, very good, half tab recommended.") At any rate, it seemed as if everyone was tripping that night; there were objectively aimless, but subjectively significant perambulations across the field of the cloth of gold, among the encamped legions of some Arthurian, Tolkienesque army. 

  I contented myself with the role of not quite participant observer, and passed the night talking to people, getting to know why they were there, what had brought them. They heard it through the grapevine --Bill Dwyer, one of the organizers, holding meetings at Hyde Park corner on Sunday afternoons, the media picking up the whisper, amplifying it. Posters sticking to walls but not many posters and not many walls. 
  Some had been there the year before or knew someone who had. For others the Windsor Free Festival - which has now been held "illegally" three years' running in the Great Park - had something of the aura of a legend, a folk myth. They had come along to see if it was real. Certainly the music wasn't the major attraction. No one that I met there was labouring under the delusion that acid rock was going to change the world; no one was even talking music very much: they were talking politics; and the Free Festival for them represented an acting out of their political persuasions. 

    There was a positive desire to come together and create something: create values. 
Standards, construct meanings. A sheer exhilaration in social construction, so long absent in straight society. And in the beginning, there on that first night, on the eve of the bank holiday, you could see it happening; so many diverse elements flung together, already negotiating and building; predicting the more detailed organization that was to take place later in the week. .After the first long night, dawn came up, followed by broad daylight, followed by mid-day. Mid-day Saturday, the first full  day, and still no music to speak of, no bands playing. A general tiredness, and a storing up of energy for the new evening, was in the air. I had come partly for fun; partly to see if this experiment of anarchy in action would work; partly in the hope that it would work; and now sat outside my tent resting, watching the world go by.

Mine was one of the tents near the huge old tree that was set on fire. 
I was fairlypissed off about that tree. 

  It was a beautiful tree, and there was no need to burn it down. There were better things to burn. The first fence that was put up was, historically, the beginning of private property, and there were fences to burn. There were pathologically huge houses around, with ready-cut piles of firewood visible in their forecourts. there were dead trees. All this availability  of fuel, and some stupid freak had to go and gratuitously light a fire in the hollow part of this beautiful living oak. and turn the whole thing into a raging, blazing absurdity. Later, in fact, the fences were attacked; and, in all fairness, the ruined tree was used. It was used as an oven for cooking and, during two cold nights, as a comforting fire to sleep by: shared among many. 
  The police came and stood by, and kept people clear as branches began to fall, and kept their cool. A pre-festival briefing had obviously been well drummed into the constables: don't cause any trouble in the enclosure. So in the enclosure, they were models of personal relations; all big -smiles  and jokes, no matter what happened. Outside - but in sight - they continually frisked, busted, and took away for probing, lone individuals  and small groups. This corporate Jekyll-and-Hydism they betrayed, this geographically demarcated schizophrenia, this blatant hypocrisy, was vividly clear in the way the constables behaved as the oak burned , surrounded as they were by hundreds of freaks. For a start, there were only three of them- unobtrusive village bobbies one and all -and for a follow-up; they were all young. with soft faces - no flat hats or drug squad heavies in evidence. 
  And the tree did burn, a flaming torch attracting like silly blind moths a cluster of journalists fresh from Fleet Street in their belted safari jackets, light-blue denim slacks and sneakers. Casual but uneasy. Could have been models in a "what the trendy, liberalish, sartorially  elegant young-man-about-the-Festival should wear " advertisement. They snapped their predictable "hippies burn down tree" shot, to put with their pics of "long-haired freaks being busted for drugs." When I asked them why they weren't a little more innovative in their photography; why, in fact, they were so boring and uncreative, they said it was because they worked for boring, uncreative newspapers , a facetious remark which I nevertheless did not see the need to dispute. 

  I wanted to point out to them that there were real issues at stake at this Festival, groups of people intensely concerned about the sort of world in which all of us live. 

  For, contrary to the gloomy prognostications of the local populace, by its third day, the Monday, the Festival had begun to organize itself, as on previous occasions - organize sanitation, water runs, stages, percussion groups. A constantly self-critical organizational form in which the status of any emerging leader was always in jeopardy, and in which the status of organization itself was never left unquestioned. I wanted to say that if they looked hard  enough through all the flux and the to and fro and the mistakes and the difficulties,  they might see certain possibilities  emerging. 
   But I didn't tell them -I don't suppose it would have made any difference if I had: and the newspaper reports, from that Friday beginning to that police confrontation on the following Thursday, were the same old dreary reports again. Infinitely  depressing, because they illustrate so clearly that the flat, one-dimensional world the editors imagine the public want to read  has - through a simple process -become the world that the public (who are not actually where the event is taking place) actually experience. A world in which vicious Arab terrorists murder innocent planeloads of tourists for no reason whatsoever (how can a newspaper reader experience the desolation of Palestine?). A world in which  irrational  hippies burn down trees, take drugs, and do nothing else (how can a distant newspaper reader experience the stirrings  and longings of an itinerant society, momentarily come together in a process of  social construction, developing even at the instant of genesis its own folklore's and customs and sanctions).


   Eventually the journalists left, Hemingway beards blowing in the wind, zooming off in their c-registration  Lotus Elans and  Triumph Spitfires, to a really super pub that one of them remembered from the year before. Their presence as outsiders had led me into a conversation with one of the Wallys. He told me that at the Free Festival the year before, a group of old friends smoking dope had been asked by the police for  their names. They had all replied "Wally"  and they had gone on from there, a sort of travelling commune. For the last seven weeks they had been "occupying" Stonehenge, attracting new friends. Previously  I had been a little suspicious of the Wallys  on the grounds that religion and liberation  do not mix. They had always struck me as  too prone to worship, too Jesus Christ and Buddha and flowers and the Sun. Now, however, I learned that they do have a coherent land policy, and something very definite to offer in political terms. Furthermore, they are willing  to go out and occupy privately held  acres and live in them, and fuse them. The land belongs to no individual

  Beginnings are made in such beliefs and such actions. 

Decisions can be taken at the community level against big business and bureaucracy, and our sick inheritance of private wealth. 
  This realization was probably the most important of all for me at the Free Festival.  The realization that it can be done; that even in the face of the brutality  and ignorance of an established society which will not tolerate change, something new can emerge. 

   As I write, the newspapers are headlining ,the events of Thursday 29 August, when 600 police moved in around dawn. "100 arrests in pop raid clash." "Fans" and "hippies" being subjected to due process of law, five days after the laws were first  contravened.  The police, of course, waited to exercise their powers of legalized violence until the numbers at the Festival had dropped from the maximum of 12, 000 to manageable proportions; until the point was reached where they could afford to take apart this threat to every habitual and unexamined assumption they operate with. 
As a result, fortunately, questions are beginning to be asked. What did the police think they were doing? Are they as benevolent as they have always been thought to be? People were remembering the death of Kevin Gately when we went to oppose fascism in Red Lion Square; and were looking forward with apprehension to the anti National Front demonstration in Hyde Park  due this Saturday. 

  As a result also, the Windsor Free Festival was prematurely ended; but it doesn't really matter. It's too late. People can come together in a spirit  of generosity and love. 
  This was a spirit  that grew and grew as the hours went by. It grew as the music began to roar out. It expanded and developed and consolidated thereafter, with free food for those who needed it, and every stall on site that the Festival participants themselves had arranged. selling goods at the absolute minimum price. No one ripping off the value of another person's labour, and no one charging absurd prices for his own. 
  The only serious note of discord, in fact, till the police moved in on Thursday, was the presence of commercial traders, the flocks of ice-cream and hot-dog vans. Even they, however had to put up with a community that would not consent to commercialism. to the extent that prices quickly grounded at an acceptable level. One hamburger merchant had a good pitch near a stage. and was quietly soaking the audience for three pence more than the established acceptable level for Coca-Cola. Suddenly, spontaneously. his van was invaded ,his supplies of Coke laid out on the grass, and the cry sent up, "Free Coke. free Coke." His was not the only business that I actually saw being "nationalized." The black market in drugs was also subjected to attention. The few people who were out to make a profit were heavily discouraged. The morphine dealers, the real bloodsuckers of any drug taking community, were warned off in one of the news sheets and reminded that, in Chicago, the Black Panthers used to shoot anyone they discovered trying to push this particularly  obnoxious chemical. 

  In this context, community action is liberation from oppression. The Windsor Free Festival, no matter what happened to it this time, subject as it was to the caprice  and violence of the police, does demonstrate that oppression can only last while the people are split up and separated. It demonstrates the possibility  of an alternative society, organized around values entirely  opposed to those of materialism and personal gain. When the people come together and share a common aim, they can't be stopped. 

  They have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. 


My ten cents worth . 

   Unfortunately this is not a lesson that most of us took any further. In fact, Britain and most of the western world, embraced wholeheartedly the noxious Thatcher/Reaganite concept -" that there is no community, only  individuals "- which swept  theworld in the 80s and 90s and which has lead to the rich getting MUCH richer and much social division.

    Meanwhile the majority of us seem to have accepted the concept of endless growth and rampant materialism as the only way to go and have sorely neglected both our Earth and our own spiritual development ( and I not talking in an organized  religious context here, rather the way in which we we relate to each other and the flora and fauna of the Earth ) - meanwhile global warming accelerates and BIG BUSINESS - with right wing politicians in its pockets - does its best to hinder any efforts to slow down the damage.

   Theres a passage at the end of the " Electric Cool Aid Acid tests" - where the Pranksters state - We Blew It . Sadly  I think that his about sums it up for the majority of my generation -  we  did have a chance to change the direction of society towards a more caring , equitable, earth nurturing  and sustainable future - but not enough of us actually DID anything positive towards achieving those goals. Instead ,because the hippies so clearly blew it, negativity became the main force in youth culture rather than optimism .The punks were too busy being self pitying and spitting at the Sex Pistols to do any more to really change the structure of society than the hippies had done and meanwhile the majority of the baby boomers have drifted towards middle age having made some superficial changes ,but these have been mostly entertainment based . Our collective consciousness has remained rooted firmly in short term gain mode .Most of us have not been prepared to make the sacrifices needed for us to transform our waste based and greedy society into a sustainable and more equitable one.

   ASK YOURSELF,  are you really happier being part of this rat race we all have opted into over the last decade or so ? . If not, then try to do something
Proactive to change things for the better. If Windsor proved anything , it was that numbers do matter- they only broke up the festival when most people had left - they were afriad to take us on when we numbered in the thousands. So write to politicians and tell them you don't agree with their short term, business as usual plans , join a union , community or environmental group and fight for Environmental, Human and Animal rights before the Plutocracy takes over completely and its too bloody late !

   For an optimistic view of where we COULD go if we had the resolve to do something about cleaning up our mess ,visit the Rocky Mountain Institute, read this transcript or listen to real audio of Amory Lovins excellent lecture, it does give hope for the future if we are prepared to act.

"Rocky Mountain Institute is an entrepreneurial, non-profit organization that fosters the efficient and restorative use of resources to create a more secure, prosperous, and life sustaining world."