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Jay Griffiths

Jay Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip.

Now that the commotion caused by the anti-capitalist demo on Mayday has died down, it’s possible to judge the effect it has had on the future of the ‘green’ protest movement in this country. I have written about the movement for five years – about the Newbury bypass protest, the Fairmile tunnellers, the street parties. At the start, it was characterised by courage, cheek, idealism and wit. But now a battle is being waged within Reclaim the Streets and other groups over the use of violence at protests, and the belligerent minority isn’t interested in these virtues. I have always been – and still am – deeply sympathetic to its aims, but it seems to me that the protest movement is betraying itself, its own best beliefs and its own spirit. This is not the end of modern protest. Not even the beginning of the end. But it is the sad end of the beginning.’‘

On the streets

Jay Griffiths, 10 June 1999

‘People must not do things for fun, joked A.P. Herbert. ‘We are not here for fun. There is no reference to fun in any Act of Parliament.’ From its grey, drizzly cover to its century-long plod of standard-length excerpts, Brian MacArthur’s anthology leaves you in no doubt: there’s precious little fun to be had protesting. There’s no skittish comedy or wry subversion here: The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest takes a serious approach: heavy subjects, heavily protested.‘

Diary: Protesting at Fairmile

Jay Griffiths, 8 May 1997

The scene: the A30 protest, at Fairmile. The cast includes a girl called Animal, a dog called Badger, a man called Ratty, and Swampy digging his famous tunnel. A white Rasta is cleaning dishes with the ashes of a cooking fire. Someone passes round a peacepipe filled with motherwort and hash. Rats gnaw through sleeping bags and rucksacks. A mother wipes snot off her child’s face with her sleeve. ‘Great waterproofing, snot.’

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