One of my favourite photos by one of my favourite photographers, the legendary Alan Lodge.
This was at the White Horse festival, the festival that replaced Stonehenge in ’85 following the unlawful brutal and destructive ambush of the travellers and festival goers at what became known as “the battle of the Beanfield”, as they made their way to the stones.
Although I have very little memory of most of the festivals and fayres that I went to back then, I do remember bits of this one, this one was a bit different.
I remember we had gone to give to give some love and support to the convoy who were still licking their wounds following the Beanfield, I remember arriving late up a steep track through a gate avoiding the cops who were prowling about, I remember sharing a big army tent with the family we came with until they, reasonably, wanted their space back and made me and my mate go and put up his tent. I remember putting up the tent in the wind and rain (there was a lot of wind and rain) and reinforcing it with whatever we could find until it became half tent half “bender.” I remember a burnt out bus and bumping into a large group of H.A. sat in a big circle on the soggy ground and wondering why they weren’t wearing waterproofs.
There was a police helicopter constantly flying low overhead and a convoy of riot vans travelling backwards and forwards on the road below and I remember the tanks, yer actual British army Challenger Tanks driving round in the field next door. Needless to say we found this to be excessive, using tanks to intimidate “hippies”, women and children who just wanted to chill out in on public land and watch some bands especially considering what had happened just before at the Beanfield, and so a mate and me decided to scuttle through the long grass and check them out. We lay there in the long grass watching the tanks driving about, until we became aware of a small van in the darkness with a strange green glow leaking out through the door seals. Figuring that it had to be some sort of night vision equipment spying on the festival we played a game of watching them, watching us, watching them, watching us until the sound of roaring engines and bouncing headlights coming up the track indicated to us that discretion might be the better part of valour and it was time to scuttle back through the long grass. Once back to the main part of the site we looked back with silly grins and watched loads of cops searching with torches in the long grass where we’d been lying just before. Why they felt the need to do that I don’t know, as far as I’m aware we hadn’t committed any crime but that’s how it was, you didn’t really need to break the law to have the law on your case.
Other memories of the festival are vague or snapshots. I remember going in to town meeting friendly locals and cops who looked like they wanted to carry on where the Beanfield left off. I vaguely remember going to see Hawkwind playing on the stage in the photo but I don’t remember the set or anything about it really and yet this remains my favourite festival. Why? because everyone who went there was someone, from all types of tribes and cultures, who were prepared to stand up for what they believed in.
Others, like me, say this is one of their favourite photographs by Alan Lodge as it captures the dystopian vibe of the festival, the “home made” culture and the never say die attitude of that time.
Oh and there’s one more reason I like this photo. I hate having my photo taken for various reasons which I won’t go into now, and as a result very few photos of me from that time exist as I avoided anyone who pointed a camera at me, but if you look in the bottom left hand corner, wearing the leather jacket with tassels, my back to the camera (obviously) I think that’s me ??
Big love and thanks to Alan Lodge for giving me permission to share this pic and for recording on film the memories that the state would rather pretend didn’t happen