29 June, 2004
Well, it all comes another step forward then.
over the last few years, we have had this 4 or 5 times a year, while we keep thinking an argument got one, and oh no, round it goes again ……
So, having heard the news, on the world at one, I realise that there is to be a pilot program, ahead of compulsion, Xyears in the future.
10,000 volunteers are to be enrolled on the first tests. I had contacted the Home Office, to enquire if these folks are to be specially invited, or, is it anyone that volunteers. I am told the latter, and have therefore just left my name, address and phone number as an ‘interested party’. Depending on what they send me, will give it a read, and may well volunteer.
All this out of academic interest, of course 🙂
just got back in from getting ‘done’ at the ID card trial.
Quite a painless exercise. They took all fingerprints, a face picture [with a four position facial ‘map’] and an iris read. This was done from about 15″ away, a little surprising that, since I thought it was right up close, like looking into a microscope. Then I signed an electronic pad. That was the databasing side. Filled out a questionnaire, while card was prepared.
Then there is the verification phase. They took my card, stuck it into the reader. I was asked to sit at similar machine that scanned my face. It took a few seconds. then the computer, whirred and rattled, then everything stopped, a few worried looks! then it started again, the screen showed my name and details. So it worked. Well, at least with a sample of 3859 folks to compare on the database. That’s as far as they’ve got now.
Not sure what a terrorist is going to make of all this. If is catches a few, that’s good of course. But with my experience of plod, I can see how awkward it is going to be for some folks ……
My pet fear still remains a policeman / soldier / neighbourhood wardens perhaps, being able to approach you in the street, and without any further evidence or suspicion, say to you “Papers”. and there we are, right back in the 1930’s Germany etc ……
50 Queen Anne’s Gate
ID helpline: 0207 3473023
Volunteer: Home Office Identity Card Scheme
If you would like to sign up as a volunteer for the biometrics enrolment trial which UK Passport Service are undertaking, the recruitment of volunteers is being managed by MORI (Market & Opinion Research International). Any request to take part in the trial should be directed to: Melanie Briere on telephone number 020 7347 3023, e-mail email@example.com, or via http://www.mori.com/candc/passport.shtml.
29 June, 2004
A world away from today’s money-spinning Glastonbury, the Windsor Free Festival of 1974 was illegal, drug-happy and absurdly idealistic, recalls Mark Hudson
Staggering across Windsor Great Park with my rucksack, I caught sight of a great encampment of tents, teepees, branch-and-polythene shelters and many thousands of dazed-looking long-haired people.
And in the glade beyond was gathered a great Babel of bizarre alternative groups – from ultra-Leftist White Panthers to the Divine Light Mission and
the notorious Children of God – everyone there with the intention of creating a perfect society, right there, spontaneously, illegally. And nobody was in control.
Something gets into Britain’s air every festival season. There’s a prickling under the skin of the nation’s youth – the feeling that, whether through burning sun or lakes of mud, you simply have to be there. But at today’s Glastonbury and Reading festivals, this yearning for generational togetherness has been safely corporatised. The world-changing agendas that powered Woodstock and Monterey have been replaced by a super-organised but anodyne bill of, well, rock music.
As one 17-year-old put it to me, that epoch-making sense of seizing the time is long gone: “If you miss it one year, you can see it all again the next.”
Perhaps that’s why the hippy era – after so long in the cultural dustbin – has become a subject of such fascination. From Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests and Allen Ginsberg at the Albert Hall to the Woodstock and Isle of Wight festivals, every last manifestation of countercultural utopianism has been the subject of some breathless article or TV documentary.
But of an event that was arguably more outrageous than all of these – an event that dared to take on the established order on the Queen’s own private land, while offering free LSD to all who couldn’t afford it – almost nothing has been heard.
I’m talking about the Windsor Free Festival of 1974 – the last stand of the psychedelic underground. While Glastonbury, that other legendary early-’70s free festival, has gone on to become Britain’s biggest rock event and a super-efficient capitalist money-spinner, Windsor is now little more than a bedraggled and rather bitter folk memory. Yet for weeks before and after its sudden and violent conclusion, Windsor dominated the headlines more than any British rock event before or since.
I was there: an idealistic 17-year-old who got up to read his poetry. But what I regret most is not the smashing of an ideal, nor the fact that I managed to miss the climactic battle, nor even the no doubt appalling quality of my poetry, but the fact that I didn’t get off with the dervish-dancing girl in the kimono.
“Free festivals were something that was in the air at the time,” says photographer John “Hoppy” Hopkins, a veteran of Britain’s “underground” from its origins in the early 1960s Beat scene. “They were about participating, rather than just sitting waiting for things to happen. To an extent, it grew out of squatting. Historically all these Crown Lands have been ripped off from the people. So the idea of putting Windsor Great Park to constructive use seemed very interesting.”
The three Windsor festivals were the brainchild of Bill “Ubi” Dwyer, a clerk at Her Majesty’s Stationery Office then in his forties, who – no doubt unbeknown to his employers – had been deported from Australia for dealing in LSD. While walking in the parkland around Windsor Castle, he had a Blakean vision of a psychedelic New Jerusalem, in which he would hold a free festival on that very spot.
A mere 700 showed up for the first festival in 1972, a figure that only doubled the following year. But, by 1974, an aura of excitement and danger had built up around the event, for which more than half a million flyers were distributed.
One of these, showing a photograph of a policeman being followed by what looked like a huge papier-mâché dinosaur, found its way into the sixth-form common room at my Surrey grammar school. By this time, much of the idealism and experimentalism of the 1960s had evaporated. “Progressive” mega-bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin led a life of mansions, private planes and bombastic concept albums. Reading, Britain’s biggest festival, was a staid, regimented affair of beer-drinking and hard rock.
But Windsor promised an event in the spirit of the great ’60s happenings – where spontaneity and audience involvement were encouraged, where anything might happen. And, best of all, it would be completely illegal. I wrote to Dwyer, offering to read my poetry, and received a polite card advising me to be at Stage C at 1pm on the Tuesday of the festival.
In the build-up to the start of the festival on August Bank Holiday Saturday, there was speculation in the media as to whether the event would or should be allowed to go ahead. “Sensible young people will show what they think by staying away,” boomed the Sun, while devoting page three of the same edition to a trio of scantily-clad “hippy chicks”.
Under a heavy police presence, a large crowd gathered in the park. At first, camping was permitted only in a small copse, but soon a great encampment of over 15,000 had spread over the flat expanse of the Cavalry Exercise Ground.
There were no toilets, no water, no provision of food. The atmosphere was, as one audience member later put it, “boy scout plus acid. That first night it felt as though everyone was tripping.” The drugs welfare organisation Release ran a tent which was, as their doctor wrote, “like a scene from Hieronymus Bosch”. Yet gradually a semblance of organisation emerged.
Meetings of festival-goers set “unexploitative” prices for ice cream vans and hot dog stalls – any that didn’t comply were chased from the site or had their wares “liberated” and distributed to the crowd. Daily newsletters appeared, encouraging the flashing of cans and mirrors to “fuck up” the police helicopters that hovered overhead.
Arriving in Windsor on the Sunday evening, I was confronted by the bizarre spectacle of an English small town apparently under martial law – the streets deserted except for screeching police vans, the verges around the park heaped with cars taken to pieces in drug searches. In the glade around the main stage, there were the usual elements of a pop festival – stages, people’s intimate living arrangements, semi-comatose bodies – but not separate, ordered, as at a commercial event.
Everything was happening on top of everything else, with nothing hidden. At first, I was horrified by the grunginess and insanitariness of it all: those trees on the other side of the glade were presumably the toilets. But I had wanted a festival that that invented itself as it went along, with no security guards or barriers, and this was it.
The beautiful people had long since moved on from freakdom (nobody used the word hippy at this time). What was left at Windsor was the hardcore – those who were too convinced or too stoned to move on. I had imagined myself reading my poetry to the crowd, a Ginsberg-like figure, standing – if only momentarily – at the centre of my generation’s history.
In fact there were only a dozen or so bombed-out people slumped in the sun before the small stage. I was very nervous, though no one knew or cared that I was there. The band that played after me seemed not only indifferent to my performance, but to their own. It seemed that in stoned freakdom, to be cool meant to be indifferent to most things most of the time.
Yet, despite 300 arrests and a near riot when a festival-goer was injured by a police van, the atmosphere was amazingly benign. Lying out on the grass and surrendering to the flow, you realised that in a strange way it did all work. Latrines had been dug, there was surprisingly little litter, and there were moments of idyllic beauty. Dancing in the central glade as night fell, Windsor seemed the best venue on earth.
Everyone danced without caring what anyone thought. Nobody had paid anything, nobody owed anything. Crazy people, naked people, straight people – everyone was absorbed by that mood of enchanted togetherness that is the purpose of the true festival. And just below the stage was a girl in a kimono with long frizzy blonde hair, a fairy amazon leaping in a kind of wild kinetic semaphore, dancing with a fierce unrelenting energy till at one point she looked round into the crowd to where I stood staring at her. And I’m sorry to admit it, but I looked away.
After three days, I returned, filthy and exhausted, to my suburban comforts, to be woken by my mother the next morning with the news that “my festival” had been routed. Early on Thursday, two days before its appointed end, 600 members of the Thames Valley Police had swept over the festival site, giving the remaining participants just 10 minutes to move on.
Things became tense: truncheons were drawn, women and children kicked, hundreds more arrested. In comparison with the civil strife we’ve seen since – during the miners’ strike and the Poll Tax riots – it was piffling. But in 1974, the sight of the police marching with truncheons drawn against a group who presented no threat to anyone drew wide condemnation. The Home Secretary demanded a full report from the police, and the Daily Telegraph was among seven national newspapers that joined calls for a full public enquiry.
Ubi Dwyer, who had been arrested for threatening behaviour, after “flipping his lid” and declaring himself “King of Albion”, was later sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for trying to organise a fourth Windsor festival. To avert further problems, the then Labour government provided a designated site for free festivals at Watchfield in Wiltshire, and a successful and peaceful event was held the following year.
Yet Windsor marked the end of something. Whether or not “flower power” died that Thursday morning, as has often been claimed, Windsor was the last time the psychedelic alternative society could claim to represent any sort of youth-cultural mainstream. Some of the fringe elements represented there, such as feminism, gay liberation and environmentalism, have become massively influential parts of the mainstream. Yet hippydom itself slipped into theshadows, until many of its strategies and ideals were revived by late-1980s rave culture.
Much as I wanted to get involved, I never really felt part of what Windsor represented. Like many of my generation, I felt I’d missed the best of love and peace. Our moment came a couple of years later with punk, and for the Johnny Rottens of this world there was little to choose between the “complacent” indifference I had observed among the hippies and the small-mindedness that destroyed their festival.
Now that I’m a father and property owner myself, notions of “freedom” defined almost entirely around drug-taking seem relevant only in a negative sense. If I’d examined myself seriously, I’d have found many of the assumptions on which Windsor was based – that all property is theft, that it is the existence of the police that creates crime – atently ludicrous even then.
Yet there’s something in the idealism of the festival that remains immensely attractive. From the perspective of our ever more money-obsessed society, where nothing seems possible without the collusion of financial interests or celebrity ego gratification, the idea that people without power would organise an event on that scale, for nothing, seems not only almost unbelievable, but still beautiful and admirable.
28 June, 2004
BBC Revisiting Britain’s biggest free festival
BBC In pictures- Summer solstice
BBC Thousands gather at Stonehenge
Guardian Stonehenge builders identified
Guardian Summer solstice
Salisbury Journal Crowd greets solstice dawn
Stonehenge Reveller ‘Dies of Drink and Drugs’
Google Search stonehenge
Observer Magazine Beanfiled: What happened next
Also, since I’ve included this large set links about current material, I thought I’d add these as well.
I’ve encoded this videotape material, that you can watch using media player.
27 June, 2004
Gaby Hinsliff, chief political correspondent
Sunday June 27, 2004 The Observer
· Police claim drug dealers openly flout the law
· Officers fear community backlash over arrests
Police are demanding a U-turn over the softening of the law on cannabis, claiming it has brought a ‘sense of lawlessness’ to the streets as smokers flaunt their habit.
Officers say more people are openly taking and selling cannabis in public, with calculated attempts to provoke retaliation, according to the chair of the Police Federation.
Jan Berry said her members were ‘walking on eggshells’ amid tensions over whether they treated different groups in their communities differently for smoking in the streets.
Six months after the government downgraded cannabis to a Class C drug, there was still widespread confusion about how to treat blatant smokers who went beyond ‘acceptable behaviour’ in public, she said.
‘If a person insists on doing something to get themselves arrested, you can use your skills to try and calm them,’ said Berry, whose organisation represents frontline officers. But ‘there will be other people watching how you react, if you react in one way to a group of people and not the same to somebody else. It’s very often walking on eggshells.’
The legal change, which means that people can still be arrested for possessing cannabis but are unlikely to be, had left officers confused, Berry said.
Many would not, for example, arrest someone for blowing dope smoke in their faces, but they were torn: ‘The government’s saying, “It is not really serious, we don’t want you to prioritise it.” But it is an arrestable offence, and now we get people saying, “Go on, arrest me”.’
The Home Office insists the change allows the police to concentrate on more serious offences involving hard drugs and that there is no evidence of higher cannabis consumption. New figures expected to show significant successes in tackling the smuggling of heroin, cocaine and other Class A drugs will be used to justify the policy.
Caroline Flint, the Home Office minister responsible for drugs policy, is monitoring national arrest patterns across the country to see how different forces react.
Danny Kushlick, of the drugs charity Transform, said the reform had made little practical difference: many officers had, in effect, ignored personal use of cannabis before the law changed.
But some forces were still ‘being quite heavy’ on cannabis offences, while others were letting smokers off without even a caution.
Kushlick said it was ‘a hard thing’ for officers to operate. ‘You effectively have a law that cannot be enforced.’ The solution was the complete legalisation of cannabis.
The federation’s Berry called for a public debate over the law on soft drugs. ‘I think it would be wrong to change the law every six months because it hasn’t worked,’ she said. ‘But I am convinced it is not law enforcement which will make a real different in drugs. It’s about properly raising awareness and treatment programmes.’
She is concerned about growing evidence of a link between cannabis smoking and psychotic illness. Labour backbenchers want the government to commission more independent research into the potential health risks.
Although a European Union-wide study found that potency of the drug had changed little between 1979 and 2001, recent British research suggests some versions are now two to three times stronger than average.
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, who supported reclassification and believed it was ‘highly ignorant’ to suggest the change had encouraged dope smoking, also said more action was needed on the health risks.
‘There is a difference between drinking a bottle of beer and a bottle of whisky, yet people wouldn’t immediately recognise the difference with cannabis,’ he said.
Mann wants Britain to follow the example of Queensland in Australia, where dope smokers are cautioned, but sent to a health counsellor to discuss their habit.
Home Office aides retorted yesterday that the Police Federation had always been opposed the reform, and officers could arrest smokers who behaved provocatively.
‘This wasn’t done at the behest of rank-and-file officers, it was done at the behest of leader of the police services who wanted the operational freedom to spend more of their time tackling Class A drugs,’ said a source close to David Blunkett, the Home Secretary.
‘And part of the agreement we reached with police was explicitly to give them the power to still arrest people who were effectively winding them up,’ the source said.
Evidence on the psychiatric effect of cannabis had already been considered, and ministers had never denied it carried health risks. ‘It remains harmful to the user.’
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was ‘too early’ to judge how the law was working. It had issued guidelines on when arrests should be made.
Reefer madness :: No wonder the police are confused
Leader : Sunday June 27, 2004 : The Observer
Not for the first time, the Police Federation is confused. As we report today, the union representing beat officers believes that the downgrading of cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug has left its members unclear about what to do about the rise in the numbers of people openly smoking marijuana on the street. They say that declassification has led to a casual culture of lawlessness and that police officers are provoked by people smoking joints and believing they are above the law.
The Police Federation has traditionally opposed liberalising reform, insisting it will lead to mayhem on the streets. The move to change the classification of cannabis was backed by senior officers, who believed that it was crucial for police to concentrate their efforts on the deadly trade in harder drugs. Now, though, they should listen to the federation. It is too easy to dismiss the complaints of ordinary officers who face a genuine dilemma in the policing of cannabis misuse.
In opting for the middle way between prohibition and full legalisation, the Home Office has confused all of us. This newspaper has always backed the liberalisation of drug laws, but we have to recognise that declassification has had a perverse effect. The endeavour was designed to free police time for other work, not to provide the means for users to taunt officers who are forced to tolerate what remains an illegal act.
The answer is not, as the federation demands, to return to the status quo ante, but to move towards the licensing of cannabis. This should be accompanied by full trials of the new, stronger strains of the drug available, which research suggests can induce psychosis.
The cannabis debate can fuddle the brain almost as much as the drug itself. What police and public need is a clear head from government on this issue and a clear message on its legality.
26 June, 2004
26 June, 2004
Stonehenge study tells pagans and historians it’s good to talk
More understanding among all sides in the great Stonehenge debate
might be made if the world was shown images of how the site is
experienced by visitors today rather than only its imagined past,
suggests new research sponsored by the ESRC. This research is
published today as a part of Social Science Week.
But the project, co-directed by Dr Jenny Blain of Sheffield Hallam
University and Dr Robert Wallis of Richmond University, London,
admits this would undermine the very potent and almost universal
need for Stonehenge to remain ‘essentially preserved’, shrouded in
mystery, and the ancient guardian of a hidden past.
A report from their ‘Sacred Sites, Contested Rights/Rites’ project,
comes at a time when considerable alliances have been formed at a
public inquiry in Salisbury by groups fighting redevelopment plans
for the Stonehenge area. These include a tunnel to take the A303 and
the siting of a new visitor centre.
The project examined what have come to be known as sacred sites, and
the climate of mistrust between heritage management and
archaeologists on one side, and pagans and alternative interest
groups on the other.
It included a detailed, systematic analysis of available published
material, websites and press coverage, along with fieldwork and
discussions with visitors and local people at Stonehenge and similar
Dr Blain said: “Stonehenge is the centre of an on-going struggle
between travellers, pagans, ‘Druids’, members of the ‘alternative’
community, English Heritage, landowners and the police. The
situation there spotlights differences between, on one hand,
heritage concerns about preservation for future generations, and on
the other, the demands of pagans and others who want open access for
Accommodations reached between the different parties at times of
solstices and equinoxes remain contentious, and distrust is rife,
says the report. It points out, however, that dividing lines have
been drawn up differently over the current redevelopment plans.
For many pagans, prehistoric sites are not ruins but living temples
or sacred sites. They feel drawn to these places to perform seasonal
rituals or to observe astronomical events. Many pagans, including
Druids, accept the ‘preservation ethos’, regarding such things as
stone circles, barrows and iron age forts as artefacts of pre-
Christian paganism, and therefore sacred.
Access is important to them, but not at the expense of preserving
sites for future generations. However, other Druids and pagans,
notably groups campaigning for the return of the Stonehenge free-
festival, call for mass public celebrations, especially at the
The study points out that archaeologists investigating the religious
significance of sites rarely consider rituals of the present day,
dismissing them as invalid. Some heritage managers speak directly
with pagan and other groups, and may even attend festivals, yet this
is seldom recorded officially.
Pagans sympathetic to preservation are interested in archaeological
views and want to become involved in site maintenance. They also try
to explain their perceptions about landscapes as ‘living’ entities.
But archaeologists who take part in pagan conferences tend to
provide information rather than seek it, and the result is
frustration for the groups.
Picture presentations of sites such as Stonehenge invariably show
them as dramatic ruins in splendid isolation, removing any signs of
people or present-day activity. And the emphasis on such things as
visitor centres and ‘interpretation’ handed out to naïve visitors,
suggests a ‘top-down’ approach by middle-class heritage management,
explaining something from a ‘closed’ past.
Dr Blain said: “Our project suggests that open and transparent
dialogue is needed between all the interested groups. And this must
begin with an appreciation of diversity.”
For further information, contact:
Jenny Blain on 791-955-6371 or 44-114-225-4413;
Or Iain Stewart, Lesley Lilley or Becky Gammon at ESRC, on 01793-
26 June, 2004
If you missed the show, like you are at Glastonbury, or somsuch, then you can listen to the latest Archive Hour, for the following week.
Real Player required
Next Page »