The boy and I set off from Stroud at half eight yesterday. There were two coaches from Stroud, and we knew many of the other people who were going. Plus we had Green MEP Molly Scott Cato on our coach, so we were feeling especially awesome. I spent much of the hour and a half or so of journey sewing. Final pieces of scarf had come in and needed attaching to each other, so many of us were doing just that.
Arriving at Aldermaston was intimidating – the double fences, the barbed wire, the large number of police officers, the large, uneasy-making buildings. Here, they make nuclear weapons, which was a sobering and unsettling thought. And there we were, standing up to nuclear weapons… with wool.
And such wool! Brightly coloured banners and scarf sections, with words of peace and hope worked into them. More than the needed 7 miles of wool, made by hands around the world. Knitting full of love and intention, and expression of our desire for a better, safer world. 5000 people knitted. Jaine (who organised) explained it worked out at 27 years of work. An incredible expression.
Huddled together outside the coaches, with a lot of police around, the fences to one side, traffic whizzing by… I felt very small and nervous. What we were up against seemed so enormous, this terrifying, slaughtering power backed by the state. Then the wool came out, and we started to unravel our first roll. The drumming and cheering started. People sang. Those of us with needles started running around to connect up pieces as required, and the whole atmosphere changed. We were making something, coming together as a community, armed with knitting needles and wool to challenge the most deadly weapons on the planet. As Theo and I were both on sewing up duty, we raced along the lines looking for gaps, needles held high like swords. It felt potent.
By 1pm, we had the seven miles of wool in place. We held it up, we made noise, we held silence, we made more noise, we rolled it up and took it back in pieces. There were speeches. Molly Scott Cato talked about the relationship between the arms industry and the nuclear industry. The relationship between arms manufacture and international slaughter. The need for peace.
The proposed new Trident project we are protesting against will cost somewhere around 100 billion pounds (government estimates 80 billion, other estimates are higher). What would you do with that much money? How many peacekeepers could you fund? How much diplomacy could you enable? How many refugees could you help? How many war criminals could you bring to justice? How many hungry people could you feed?
Trident will give us the means to kill 45 million people.
I think that stands reflecting on. Ask in what circumstances you would feel comfortable with the slaughter of 45 million people, and the consequences of using nuclear arms on that scale. You can find out more about anti-nuclear protest here – http://tridentploughshares.org/
With the protest over, the scarf is being re-worked to become many blankets that can be sent to places of need. Some of them, no doubt will go to refugees from war zones. I’ve brought a segment home and have started the task of undoing and remaking. However, getting those blankets to where they are needed, is going to cost, so if you can help out at all with that, go here, please, and do what you can. http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk/?page_id=1104
I’m very glad I was there, proud to have been a part of that, awed by the scale, by the love and labour that went in to making it all work. My parents were protesting against nuclear weapons before I was born. My son is getting involved. Maybe by the time he has children of an age to protest, we won’t be still having to stand up against this madness. I hope, his will be the last generation called upon to resist, and that we will see sense, and stop making insane weapons that cost the earth and that we could never use without damning ourselves in every way.