Fête of the Earth

May 17th was brilliantly successful, thanks to the efforts of a very large team of people. Total takings were in the region of £1,650 which means a profit of over £1,200 despite heavy expenses (hall hire, advertising, van hire etc.)

Plants£638 (plus £100 extras)
Home produce£154
Entry fees£110
Costume jewellery£75

Expenses are still being adjusted: final figures will be available at the AGM on July 13th.

We were extremely lucky with the weather and so were able to make the most of the garden at St. Mark’s. Wandsworth Stop the War, Merton Palestine Solidarity Campaign and our own Wool Against Weapons (‘pink knitting’) set up outside, sharing the space with the plant stall, craft cards and handmade jewellery. The kitchen (Brigitte and Janet) did a roaring trade, old friends greeted each other and the atmosphere was relaxed and happy. ‘NHS not Trident’ T-shirts were stall-holder uniform for the day, ensuring that our message was loud and clear.

Setting up and taking down has become a logistical challenge now that we have to pay for every hour we occupy the hall — unlike the old, more leisurely days in the Community Centre — and we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Mick with his truck, Bob the van driver and Nicholas, who dug deep into his reserves of energy to manhandle heavy loads from 7am onwards. The team who gave out leaflets every day during the week before the Fete deserve a special mention (especially George who did 600 single-handed) and also Hazel and Sue who helped with advance sorting and labelling of plants. Dave got the banner up and Jerry distributed posters on the day.

All stall-holders worked hard and it is impossible to list everybody, but one initiative stands out: Kiki and Maureen donated a selection of their own costume jewellery and raised an impressive £75. I think we should once again mention Kiki with Rhona and Anna who undertook the often thankless task of running the tombola and raffle, raising £121 between them. Apologies to those whom I have not mentioned individually, but give yourselves a big pat on the back. It was a tremendous team effort.

Mitcham Carnival June 14th

We plan to be present at this lively event on Three Kings Piece where we normally do very well, selling ‘leftovers’ from the Fete and receiving a warm welcome from the people of Mitcham. We shall need a lot of volunteers to help with transport: a fleet of small cars will have to substitute for the larger vehicles of earlier years. We shall also need a team of physically able volunteers to put up the gazebo between 9 and 10am. Please get in touch if you can help — and let’s hope for better weather than last year.

International Relations: WEA course

Tutor Nicholas Hymans has extended an invitation to WDC/CND members to sample the course which he runs from 10·15–12·15 on Friday mornings on the upper floor of the Prince of Wales pub near Wimbledon Station (final session June 27th). Subjects covered this term include an analysis of the defeat of the Axis in World War II and a comparison of the first decade of the United Nations with that of its predecessor, the League of Nations — and also a discussion of nuclear weaponry as a post-war problem and the prospects for disarmament. All are welcome (with no fee payable at this stage).

Community Award for Joanna

I was nominated for a local newspaper community award by my U3A pupils, who listed all my CND activities in addition to my music teaching with the U3A. On the evening of April 26th I learned that I was runner-up to a lady who runs a lunch club for the elderly — and that all mention of my political activities had been whitewashed from the citation with the exception of the Vigil for Peace! But the Rev. Andrew Wakefield, who was present, cheerfully tweeted “Longstanding well known ubiquitous volunteer in gardening music and peace campaigns here @WDCCND nominated for community award highly commended” and I wore my silver CND medallion for the official photo.


Letter Writing

For many years CND has coordinated a letter-writing group, offering a suggested topical subject each month with names and addresses of appropriate recipients. It is a form of campaigning that appeals to those CND members who are perhaps not otherwise able to get involved, and it is a very effective way of maintaining civil society pressure on those in power.

Anna Rehin, who has been the letter-writing faciltator for several years, feels that she now deserves a break and I have (perhaps rashly) agreed to take her place. So if you would like to join this very peaceful wing of the campaign get in touch with Anne Schulthess at National CND Office, 162 Holloway Road, N7 8DQ or anne.schulthess@cnduk.org to register your interest.


Lobby of Parliament June 11th

This lobby marks the end of Bruce Kent’s national ‘No Faith in Trident’ tour. We have contacted Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond asking him to see us on June 11th but unfortunately he has prior commitments on that day — but this will not stop us from joining CND delegations from all over the country to help make the Lobby as impressive as possible. and we shall arrange to meet Stephen Hammond at a constituency surgery at a later date.

WDC/CND members from other constituencies — Mitcham & Morden, Putney, Tooting, Kingston, Richmond Park — should contact their own M.P.s and the day will finish with a rally with speakers starting at 6pm.

Peas on Earth’

Many of you will remember this corny pun, the subject of a Leeds postcard in the 1980s. On Sunday 8th June I am running an all-day stall in Wimbledon Piazza (outside Morrison’s) helping children to plant peas and explaining how to look after them so that they (hopefully) can expect to harvest some pods. This is part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival and although the stall is not primarily political it is listed as a CND contribution and there will be scope for a subtle peace message.

Bring children and grandchildren and have fun.


June 28th Part I: Pink Knitting Parade

We have police permission to parade down the Broadway on June 28th with our section of the Wool Against Weapons Aldermaston/Burghfield peace scarf. This will be wonderful publicity for the full ‘roll out’ at Aldermaston on August 9th and will also help us to publicise our Music and Poetry event in the evening (see below). We have already assembled four rolls of scarf and it will certainly be an impressive sight; now we are looking forward to finding out exactly how long it is!

We estimate that we shall need at least 20 people to help carry it (suspended from clothes pegs along clothes line) and that getting it all assembled will take at least half an hour. So as usual we need volunteers please; lots of you! We shall meet in Compton Road (behind Wimbledon Library) at 10·30am and hope to move off at 11am, handing out leaflets as we go.

We were delighted that our ‘join up’ session on May 24th attracted the attention of local journalist James Cracknell and resulted in an excellent full-page spread in the South London Press: a page of photographs, a sympathetic article and (finishing touch) a PINK headline!

June 28th Part II: ‘No Glory in War’ music and poetry evening

This special event marks the centenary of the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princep, which indirectly led to the declaration of war a few months later. The William Morris Halls (267 The Broadway SW19) is a wholly appropriate venue for an evening with an anti-war theme and we look forward to an inspiring and moving evening’s entertainment by the socialist choir the Strawberry Thieves† and the poets from Bromley who visited us so memorably several years ago in the Colour House Theatre. In addition we shall be showcasing local talent: professionals Zulema Dean and Wendy Tansey have “put together a 20 minute programme”, details of which they have been keeping very secret. The show starts at 7·30pm. Tickets are priced £5 at the door. Please come, and please bring family and friends.

† (named after a famous Morris design featuring little birds and garden fruit)

‘Too Close for Comfort’

Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options of Policy is the title of a report published in 29th April by Chatham House, an internationally respected and erudite research establishment and not a campaigning organisation.

The report lists 13 instances since 1962 when nuclear weapons were nearly used, and concludes that risks appear to be rising. “The question today is: are these risks worth it?” says one of the report’s authors (quoted in the Guardian 30/4/2014). The report focuses on cases in which nuclear weapons came close to being launched deliberately on the basis of bad or incomplete information. It does not deal with the risks inherent in the maintenance of the global stockpile of more the 17,000 warheads — risks described in Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control”, published last year, which catalogues numerous accidents each with the potential for disaster.

This Chatham House report carefully explains that “a sincere belief in nuclear deterrence is not the only plausible explanation for... avoidance of nuclear war. Rather, individual decision-making, often in disobedience of protocol and political guidance, has on several occasions saved the day.

“Those [nations] who possess nuclear weapons will continue to be distrustful of one another and remain reliant on data transmitted by systems that are vulnerable to error or misjudgement.... For as long as nuclear weapons exist the risk of an inadvertent accidental or deliberate detonation remains. Until their elimination, vigilance and prudent decision-making in nuclear policies are therefore of the utmost priority.... Since the probability of inadvertent nuclear use is not zero and is higher than had been widely considered and because the consequences of detonation are so serious, the risk associated with nuclear weapons is high.”

The authors repeatedly stress the importance of the ‘human judgement factor’ in nuclear decision making and the large element of luck involved in the avoidance of disaster hitherto, and they make various political recommendations including “improving awareness and training on the effects of nuclear weapons”.

The UK parliament will take a final decision on the renewal of Trident in 2016. Many (perhaps most) M.P.s will vote along party lines with minimal knowledge. We can at least ensure that our local M.P.s are aware of the content of this report.

The full report can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1rNgR68 .

The Burning Answer

The Guardian recently carried a review of an important new book, “The Burning Answer: A user’s guide to the Solar Revolution” by Keith Barnham, which “cuts through the current morass of fossil fuel and nuclear lobbyists’ negative propaganda with a clear and original vision for solar power”. The book begins with Einsten’s two great equations from 1905: E=mc2 which led to the atomic bomb within 40 years (followed ten years later by nuclear-powered electricity) and E=hf (the interconvertibility of light and electricity — the photovoltaic effect) which has received far less official attention. The author finds it hugely significant that those countries which principally developed nuclear technology (the US and Britain) lag behind in renewable solar energy research whereas the leaders in this field are Germany, Japan and Italy, all of which were banned after the war from developing nuclear weapons. He cites many instances of British governmental prejudice in favour of nuclear energy despite a history of technical and commercial failures.

[Based on review by Peter Forbes: Saturday Guardian 24/5/2014]

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