Being involved in this project as an interviewer has been a tremendous honour. Meeting and interviewing the amazing sheroes of the Greenham Common peace camp has been fascinating, moving, insightful and an absolute joy.
I met a wonderful group of women whose experiences of Greenham were varied. Some, for example, lived at the camp for lengthy periods whereas others were visitors or contributed in other ways. But every single one of them played a huge part in Greenham’s narrative and all had a captivating story to tell.
Several of them had been incarcerated for their participation in the non-violent direct action, one woman had driven a coach of Greenham women across Russia, one gave up her education to be at the camp, one organised a march to Menwith Hill, and another actually gave birth to her son at the Greenham peace camp.
Hearing their stories, it’s impossible not to wonder at how extremely brave, clever, and principled they were. And how resilient. I heard about adversity and hardship; the freezing weather conditions, the violence of the police and bailiffs, the resentment of the local community, the endless mud, the constant evictions, the threats, the arrests, the prison sentences, the frequently harsh living conditions, the vilification by the media…
But I also heard stories of the tremendous friendship and sisterhood at Greenham; women coming together in strength, solidarity and sorority, supporting each other, loving each other and respecting each other. Nobody was ‘in charge’ at Greenham; decisions were made collectively and everyone’s voice was heard.
All of this I expected to hear. But perhaps what surprised me was finding how much joy and laughter there had been at Greenham. I actually howled with mirth on occasions during the interviews, hearing some of the wonderfully funny anecdotes.
Vicki told me that she and several others had broken into the camp on one occasion and they had found themselves in the base’s the commissary. Despite their dishevelled appearance, they thought that they’d be able to blend in with the American housewives pushing shopping trolleys around the supermarket.
Becky told me a glorious story about the liberation Greenham geese. It seems that the MOD authorities hit on the idea of installing a flock of geese at a particular area of the perimeter fence, presumably hoping the geese would raise the alarm in the event of the women trying to break in. The women responded by cutting the fence and freeing the geese who promptly ran off into the woods.
There is so much to hear in the testimonies of the women of Greenham. Listen to their stories and be inspired.
WRITTEN BY JOSEPHINE LIPTROTT