‘How do you prove you have a conscience?’
You came to me via a pdf,
Out of the blue,
Via a Facebook message,
On a hot afternoon in late July,
With names, occupations, addresses and ages –
A bit like a census, in a strange way:
Official, bald, and bureaucratic
In your modernity,
No telegrams today.
Eighteen conscientious objectors
Whose courage, principles and politics,
Whose ethics, morals and steadfastness
Enabled them to stand up against the crowd,
In those heated days before and after July 1916,
And before and after November 1918.
The paintings of badgers on the posts at Slad,
Are beguiling and deceptive in their art,
Seemingly comic and anthropomorphic,
Each one contributes to a tragic tale,
Summarised in that curt and cruel word: cull.
They look like Tommies facing execution,
Tied to their posts at dawn’s first red-streaked light:
What passing-bells for those who die for cattle?
‘Only the monstrous anger of the guns,
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.’
Echo Chamber: Voices of Conscience – a sound and photography exhibition marking 100 years of conscientious objection – owes its inspirational existence to Fiona Meadley, Dom Thomas and Ruth Davey. The exhibition includes information submitted by living relatives of Conscientious Objectors from WW1: it was a privilege to contribute to this history, with our performance of the story of Dorothy and Archibald.
The link: http://radicalstroud.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Archie-And-Dorothy.m4a takes you to a recording made of Dorothy and Archibald , featuring the voices of Rachel Simpson and Stuart Butler, as they read the words of Alice Butler and Stuart, during the Stroud Book Festival in November 2016.
The British Army at the start of the Great War Was essentially ‘Wellingtonian’: A predominantly country-set set of officers, A predominantly rural army of men, Battalions and companies of men and officers, With a reverence for tradition and locality, Be it the BEF or...read more
Sunlight flashed across the churchyard yew trees As the whistle blew at half past seven, Children scattered poppies in the rain soaked grass (Who can forget the innocence of Mrs Yolland’s reception classes, Twenty years ago and more at Rodborough School: ‘I can run...read more
By Gloden Dallas and Douglas Gill The authors make the introductory point that the early 20th century British army was still almost Wellingtonian, despite some reforms: ‘I daresay it is snobbish to say so, but the fact remains that men will follow a gentleman much...read more
Also see: Echo chamber: Voices of conscience Look Again: Echo Chamber ECHO CHAMBER SVA Goods Shed, Stroud Railway Station Saturday 19 March, 10am to 4pm ‘War…conscience…protest. How do we navigate all the stuff that’s happening today? Forgotten voices...read more