THE DEATH OF STUART WISE
THE END IS WHERE WE START FROM
A FUTURE AFFIRMATION?
Above: July 12th 2021.The last photo of Stuart Wise by Angie Knutt our intrepid companion and explorer as together we reached out to make a new world beginning with the illicit transformation of Martin Bell’s Wood on Wormwood Scrubs Common. David Wise is in the background. Stuart died on October 28th 2020.
Shortly after my twin brother's death there was a more or less open zoom meeting organised by the Michel Prigent Commemoration Group which broadly discussed - amidst a bit of well-intentioned laughter – Stuart Wise's contribution to the British situationist grouping, King Mob. (I didn’t attend because overcome with grief amounting to trauma after losing an identical twin brother as had happened likewise to our dear friend, Nik Holliman a few years earlier). It seems the meeting was a lively affair and somewhere among the mêlée, Nik presented a perceptive and knowing valedictory on Stuart. So let’s begin by presenting Nik’s text:
Hopefully soon a book will be published provisionally entitled Dialectical Butterflies / Nameless Wilding. This book will reproduce many a text mostly written by Stuart and myself from a now sadly deleted web of roughly the same title which can now only be accessed via The Wayback Machine and I owe it to Len Bracken (Guy Debord's American biographer) that he found it there. It could be said that this web is historically the UK's response to a more genereal trajectory: the evolution of situationist critique and concomitant direct action morphing into the growing sphere of revolutionary ecology. It's an omission which was lacking, or rather merely hinted at, within the orbit of the fully fledged Situationist International of the mid to the late 1960s, despite the latter's explosively brilliant impact on the revolutionary moments of that era.....However, more about that lacuna later.
For those reading this blurb who don't know who we are or, more specifically, who Stuart Wise was and is - and that means about everybody in the age of Cancel Culture - he is an individual more or less there at the inception of that subversive revolutionary group in the UK known as King Mob in mid to late 1967. Stuart was ripe for making such a leap as he was participating in the Icteric art / anti art experiment in Newcastle-upon-Tyne which opened the doors of perception and active subversion as the influence of the International Situationists began to make a big impact in student / post student circles. Stuart stayed on in Newcastle until the early 1970s having an influence on many of the radical acts that place in the city at the time not least in the burning down of part of the Art History dept. From then on saddled with a notorious reputation and more or less barred from making a living he upped sticks and headed for London's Notting Hill radical alternative community. Having neither inheritance nor money to fall back on the attraction of forms of srtisanal building beckoned which also allowed time to publish lots of crazy man, crazy pamphlets and posters on the side as well as doing crazy man, crazy things. A couple of decades then rolled by and Stuart became involved in ecological theory and practise but one firmly embedded in his previously broadly situationist perspective (see below) merely extending its scope within an ever widening totality. Indeed, his passion and thirst for total revolution never diminished but as he grew older "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" made their formidable marks on him.
This then is the bare outline of his life and what follows is the tragic nitty-gritty of Stuart's final years. It's traumatizing for me, his twin brother, but I have to try and get it off my chest and will most likely fail for only an imaginative explosion from below can possibly begin to mend my broken heart.
The dramatic trauma of Stuart Wise's final ‘illness’ and intermittent stays in hospital had a great deal to do with a huge nervous breakdown whereby he could hardly put one front in front of the other. It was an overwhelming but passionate despair that his hope for a new world free from money and wage labour (at the very least) had, post ’68, come to nothing. Instead we had encountered the miseries of ‘Suicide Capitalism’; a notion that we increasingly emphasized alongside the fact that humanity was literally eating itself up alive. This concept was lifted from the evolution of l’Encyclopedie des Nuisances more or less based in France which had such an impact on the Larzac Plateau protests in the 1990s and the subsequent ZADs (Zones à Défendre). It’s also a subject which has been dealt with in a more academically acceptable way in a recent book with the title of La Société Autophage by Anselm Jappe which sadly has yet to be translated into English.
The above are still there screwed to the oak trees in Martin Bell’s Wood. True you shouldn’t really paint bird boxes - simply because birds prefer natural wood - but these ‘bird boxes’ were placed in the trees mainly for propaganda purposes.
Our return to nature from the mid 1980s onwards and, as it were, our return to childhood memories of wild, roaming, playful interventions located in and around decaying industrial infrastructures of abandoned mines, soil covered disguised factories plus mucky becks, etc had also simultaneously to do with the collapse of the ‘old’ workers’ movement. In the UK this and most poignantly for us was the brutal outright defeat of the great miners’ strike of 1984-5. As we have well documented elsewhere, defeat was felt very personally because of powerful childhood memories involving much respected family background connections. Subsequently, post 1985, it was like as if everything of promise was lost in the UK as the most draconian anti-worker laws in what was then known as “Western Europe” (as opposed to the pseudo-communism of the Eastern Bloc) were passed by the British Parliament, laws that subsequently have never been repealed.
After jotting down the previous paragraph and for the very first time I started reading some of Stuart's 'secret' diaries only to come across the following which astonishingly is very similar to what I've just recounted: "4th October 2020. I feel so foolish and pathetic my mind is in chaors - yet I don't doubt for a instant that what we are doing on the Scrubs is and elsewhere is fundamentally right. I struggle to understand what I'm doing - its connection with the remote past (as children around Heighington Stn in Co Durham) the death of art and Icteric, my attraction to waste spaces, to old industry and its reclamation by nature, the precipitous decline of industrial class struggle in this country and how a PROLETRAIAN ECOLOGY came to take over my life and with it the need to reinvent nature and humanity."
From the mid 1980s onwards ironically - since we are dealing here with what rightly became regarded as odious fossil fuels – especially our long involvement with the pit spoil heaps (C/F the 15 or so films we made on spoil heap butterflies which really should go up on YouTube)) nature became our great solace, especially the deeply hidden but glorious world of insects. In many ways it was a feeling that had never left us but was revisited with an even greater intensity though essentially now placed within the trajectory of total social revolution. A re-visiting of nature was now inseparable from the need to abolish the fetishism of commodities - so well explained by Marx - which also involved new ways of relating to nature necessitating the overthrow of the law of value, abolishing class society, money and the state. For us, post the vision of an insurrectionary 1968, changing the face of an increasingly domesticated nature also meant given further momentum to the abolition and realisation of art via a new creativity opposing what Debord characterised as “the fall of life”. So why shouldn’t a de-commodified wilding taking place within the context of the beginnings of new communities freed from the diktats of political economy trigerring the process of overthrowing the separation between town and country be humanity’s and planet Earth’s glorious future? For sure, all this was jumbled up inside ourselves indicating not only Rimbaud’s dictum that “love must be invented afresh” but which also indicates everything else must be completely reinvented.
Putting it less gloriously apocalyptically and placed within the mundane every day, this re-visiting of childhood inevitably brought with it all subsequent knowledge and experience, good or bad, whilst simultaeneously implying a clearer idea of the way out of a hellish capitalism on the brink of an abyss in its sheer rape of every living morsel: Truly, a capitalism of NO FUTURE albeit much more catastrophic than the way Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols put it back in the mid to late 1970s.
Initially the ‘return to childhood and nature’ was experienced as something of a relief; a soothing ‘getting away from it all’ seeing an already loathsome counter revolution in these islands was gathering pace morphing into the paradoxical embrace of economic neo-liberalism plus ideological neo-feudalism. It was a conundrum whereby money, money, money became the god substitute amidst a revived worship of royalty, lords and ladies, empire and the public school especially “the playing fields of Eton”. This was all made worse, indeed sickening beyond belief, considering that a sizable proportion of people at the sharp end really embraced this shit. It was if all hope was slowly being abolished.....
Sadly the rose coloured spectacles surrounding our childhood quickly hit the buffers of reality as in the meantime we'd somehow kind of forgotten all the nasty incidents related to our childhood escapades. Even then we were naively asking for it as roaming through semi abandoned terrains we inevitably carried with us various cutting tools along with sheaf knives hidden from view in pockets, etc. Anything in short that could tear through tangled mazes of bush or prolific arenas of gorse as we created semi-secret passages well hidden from the gaze of “the gadgie”- imitating the gypsy cum Scottish lingo we’d adopted – be they police, security guards, gamekeepers and what have you. Moreover, we were not averse to a bit of very minor fire-raising either be it railway bank sides or lighting up those old fashioned platelayers huts well-coated with tar. For sure the latter was simple juvenile delinquency, meaning we'd then scarper real quick, headed for home, kept schtum, and loudly played say, a scratched 78 rpm of Bessie Smith singing Weeping Willow Blues. (We did after all live in the New Orleans Jazz mad, working class North East which a few years later hit Top of the Pops via The Animals House of the Rising Sun). We also built dens in trees or constructed them - bridge-like - across streams as well as blocking rivers and /or cutting mazes through dense undergrowth. However, amidst all this we were also rapidly becoming very nature-savvy noting with delight the Great Crested Newts in the ponds or the Dingy Skippers or Wood Tigers on the wing as we whooped around imitating Native American Cherokee.
Of course there were reprisals for being adventurous kids but nothing like the stick decades later we were to receive for trying to recreate these childhood landscapes whereby the aforementioned creatures - and others - could thrive. This time reprisals by the authorities were far, far worse than anything we’d encountered as kids; reprisals moreover that tore our hearts out the more we started re-creating “landscapes of contempt” on public land –as the French refer to them - in a more consciously informed way. The truth of the matter is we were engaged in practical experiments to “save the planet” as we rapidly realised slogans like this utilised by the state and private capital were nothing other than A BIG LIE; a mere ideological front – virtue signalling at its worst - covering up their relentless destruction of nature .
Above: A fire in Martin Bell’s Wood; circa whenever! Cutting down thick masses of often sky high bramble created the problem just what to do with the leftovers after raking them up occasionally forming huge piles. Inevitably we were instantly condemned by the greenwashing elite – ever into the world of appearance and spectacle – of manufacturing eyesores, yet again further proof of our irresponsible behaviour. When challenged, we merely said we were going to let them rot down naturally. “Disgusting” came the reply. However, in no time these disgusting piles became home to many varied insects, even rare species like the wasp spider, followed by small mammals plus rats! Then stunningly there were hedgehogs, rabbits – even a hare. One person said they’d even seen slowworms though surely that’s Fantasy Island stuff ? Nonetheless, there were too many straggling heaps seeing we were trying to create broad terrains of ecologically diverse rich pasture woodland so whoopee, here comes bonfire night. Not that we needed to have worried as young teenage hoolies quickly saw the light – like we had of yore – as merry blazes, on leaving school, lit up the evening sky. Truth to tell none of these small fires ever got out of control no doubt because the wood flourishes on an artesian well. Nonetheless, as for ourselves with memories of nigh on six decades ago, again we scarpered fearful of prosecution on hearing the sounds of the fire brigade knowing greenwash officialdom would back them to the hilt. Truth to tell, it was like as if we hadn’t grown up at all! A few years later and the Scrubs great biodiversity, eco supremo tried the same prosecution angle relating to fires in an attempt to get rid of those excellent ZAD-like tree houses created by authentic, committed anti HS2 protestors. (Moreover, these tree dens are superior to any contemporary architecture in the process of construction though that's another subject to be expanded upon elsewhere).
Indeed from 2013 onwards our intransigent ecological activities became an almost daily battleground and it wasn't simply the old adage that 'water wears away stone' but how much more can you take in your 70s after a lifetime of combat and persecution?
Stuart’s response to the devastation wreaked on our remarkable eco experiments by now psychotic power freaks was also to catastrophically turn in over which increasingly devastated his psyche, as more and more he considered himself the biggest, most horrendous bastard cum arsehole who ever lived. “And the many men so beautiful and they all dead did lie / And a thousand thousand slimy things lived on / And so did I” as Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner put it. He began to seriously neglect himself and it had an effect on his health, mentally and physically. After a day of hard slog he tended to retreat into the bedroom of his council flat lying endlessly flat on his back on a mattress copiously scribbling away filling one book after another with notes and comment with Sri Lankan radio and accompanying music in the background even though Stu’ couldn’t speak a word of Tamil. He’d always had a tendency to behave in an odd ball way but now it was hitting stream of consciousness levels. Unfortunately, when his often very lucid scribbling stopped Stu’ refused to take them to the next logical stage: turning his initial ramblings into something communicable for other people to read. In fact I was the one and only person who intervened to do just that and would often grab the scraps of paper he was writing on and put them into shape for perusal on webs, etc. It was as if he wanted everything related to himself to disappear, almost as if there must be no oeuvre left to mull over. In that sense he remained the anti-artist to the end and wasn’t it De Sade who said something like; “All your works must be destroyed on the day of your death”??? Interestingly this comment is favourably quoted by the Surrealist Luis Bunuel in his requiem book My Last Sigh...... In consequence I now possess two heavy sack fulls of Stuart's jottings and scribbling which will take years to plough through but even random glances reveals a lot of sheer brilliance alongside an enormous amount of general knowledge.
Above: the pile of scribbled documents Stuart left and jammed packed with comment. I never realised there was so much. Initially spending a day leafing through his diaries - which I'd never looked at before - towards the end I came across the following comments: 5th of May 2018. "I find writing this diary increasingly a chore. Like Mallarme or John Clare, words fail me and only daily practice provides a semblance of satisfaction". And later on the 5th Sept 2020, "I feel so separated from the written word like I need to go back to the ancient world where writing was practically unknown. My pen is a panga or mattock". The daily practise was for Stu' and me at the time the transformation of Martin Bell's Wood on Wormwood Scrubs....
Stuart’s live-in surroundings had always been somewhat bo-ho ever bordering on the chaotic and I’d often call him “mucky-pup united” and his council flat was always over-the-top untidy but in an easy relaxed, comfortable way. Over the last few years however his lifestyle really went downhill the more reaction triumphed and the more our eco experiments out there in the wild got trashed / extinguished, etc, and the more various authorities threatened him with prosecution. In response, bo-ho gave way to filth and soon there wasn’t even a clean cup or mug to drink out of until the day came when he found a mouse happily swimming around in the soup he’d left on the stove. Truth to tell he was disturbed when he confessed to me what had happened but it made no difference as flies everywhere massively increased in number as nothing got cleaned up and piles of rubbish grew and grew in every room. Moreover Stu’ just couldn’t kill anything the more he identified with these creatures with no voice. A personal diary comment around that time (23rd Sept 2017) read, “I increasingly feel myself reflected in the brief, random flight of a bird, or a hover fly on a Michaelmas daisy. Just as I am doomed so are they but ‘they’ are fortunate enough not to know it”. Moreover, I couldn’t help but feel our family past in his response going way back to our grandah, a miner and union organiser in Liverton Mines, a small community around the pit which overlooked the North Sea near Whitby. Late in life, Grandah used to play with the mice running amok in his gaff even giving them names. He did so because in the dark deep underground which had been so much of his life often his only companions were the mice. And then the link to nature cum revolutionary past returned as Grandah was remarkably well clued-in about the nature around him but had also managed to get a bunch of formerly armed anarchist inclined Belgian miners -after a big strike - redeployed in his own pit and who consequently couldn’t get work anywhere on the European mainland. The latter is a great story in itself: suffice to say here, Grandah asked our future Mam to befriend the Belgian miners’ children and she consequently learnt every gully low French swear words doing the rounds yet couldn’t even string together a sentence in the same language!
Sure the latter is by-the-by a fine story but increasingly I was worried sick about Stu’s living conditions especially after the destruction of the wonderful post-industrial gorge in Bradford (see later crucial emails on this catastrophe). Moreover once physical illness struck amidst his ever darkening depression I knew Stuart could be open to all kinds of infections as his immune system would be weakened. Four years later that’s exactly what happened. What’s more Kensington & Chelsea council were beginning to flex their muscles amounting almost to threats of eviction from his council flat. Come Stuart’s second bout in hospital in April 2021 they really were looking for that infamous jugular. Instead the council via social workers demanded his flat be given a ruthless “blitz clean” after ambulance staff took photos of his surroundings. I managed to intervene and stop this nonsense by doing a big clean-up myself throwing out sack after sack of rubbish which unfortunately meant also throwing away a lot of snails feasting on rotting food on his kitchen window ledge. (Yep for those in the know, ironically it smacks of shades of his snail Icteric experiment from 1966). Moreover, I was able to save all his wild seed containers labelling some and stacking them together on a small table. More importantly I managed to find all his last placards that he’d been busily working on ready to be screwed on tall trees in Martin Bell’s Wood on Wormwood Scrubs Common. Unfortunately for Stu’ this necessary clean-up was too late in the day and once out of hospital and back in his flat bit by bit the infections, especially of the kidneys in no time again took off leading up to his final collapse a couple of months later.
Above: The PLACARDS plus two rare moths he discovered in Martin Bell’s Wood in late 2020 / early 2021. The one on the left is the Clifden Nonpareil and our biggest moth – truly the size of a small song bird. The other is the Hornet Clearwing.
These are the last placards Stu' did. They were to go up in Martin Bell's Wood on the Scrubs but his body gave out and hospitalisation followed. The placards were to overlook the main pathway adjacent to Scrubs Lane. Previously when putting up placards and the like Stuart would climb high in the trees with the help of hidden ladders as he knew the council arseholes would tear them down. I would hold the ladders as he was so skilled with his Makita drill really firmly fixing them tightly to tree trunks. He did the same with the nesting boxes we put up previously. The big moth here is the Clifden Nonpareil or Blue Underwing. It is our biggest moth and also one of our rarest named after the Bristol suburb in the late 19th century where it was first discovered. It looks the size of a small song bird in flight and Stu' got a photo too from in the wood which I must dig out. We were amazed to find it there. But because we made the wood into some kind of trad style pasture woodland after clearing out the hugely invasive bramble - product of increased CO2 fertilisation mainly via vehicle exhaust - it then attracted an enormous amount of insects, many very rare indeed. Just last February 2021 Stuart found the rare Hornet Clearwing moth. He was ecstatic!
As a rider to all of this, we always had to really hide our tools because if the council goons found them they'd immediately confiscate them at the same time denying they did so. Yet the slogan of H&F council is "a clean and green borough". Hypocritical, devious, bullshitting lying arseholes!
In a way Stu’ slowly but surely went into ‘remote’ where previously he’d been an ‘internal’ subjective kind of guy bordering on the distant. Now it was difficult to get any kind of sustained conversation from him whereas not long ago he’d love giving out some kind of critical summary on say Kierkegaard’s theories. In any case, he’d always been something like the absent-minded Prof’ in disposition even though having small regard for academics knowing they somehow nearly always manage to water down their best perceptions ever fearful of losing their privileged positions together with the FUDS and DUDS after their names. Almost inevitably too, so called “experts” also riled Stu’. This response was hardly surprising considering he’d never held back on his opinions and conclusions, and being a child of the direct action oriented, utopian late 1960s, he’d been quickly slung out of academia and forever black-listed as a nobody and a no good.
As you may now realise Stu’ was immensely learned. Moreover, he more or less fluent in 5 European languages despite having failed the infamous 11Plus of yesteryear as I had too. But was I like Stu’? Not quite and I mean “not quite” in a by no means way; for sure we were inseparable twins but alike as chalk and cheese as the old saying goes. I would always somewhat provocatively characterise myself as ‘thick’ in comparison to my twin. Moreover, I am an appallingly bad writer, grammar –wise, etc – as many a person has pointed out, and I truly wish I could do something about it but I can’t. My command of languages is virtually zilch and my understanding of say Marx, Nietzsche, Kant, Darwin, Hegel, et al, is pitiful in comparison to my dear departed bro'. On the other hand, Stuart couldn’t organise the proverbial “piss up in brewery” was hopeless at making friends and couldn’t act in outlandish ways even though his life was a living example of commendable negation. Moreover, he’d never been nicked by the police anywhere near like me as at the same time he’d lambast my “conservatism in daily life” also knowing I had little control over myself when I did act. Then again, Stuart would stubbornly persist in utterly lawless behaviour in low key, purposefully hidden away everyday eco activities. I was always upfront about my name, Stuart on the contrary often deploying pseudonyms. The name Lawrence Clarkson was especially favoured as a Facebook front in communicating texts and often lengthy informed commentary to Extinction Rebellion, etc. The latter initially would often immediately delete ‘Lawrence Clarkson’s’ intransigent but experienced comments only for a few months or so later back track and allow them through. Also, ‘Lawrence Clarkson’ was greatly regarded by Chris Packham, George Monbiot, etc. I personally did not approve of this clandestine behaviour always insisting Stuart should be more upfront but he simply ignored me. Fair enough and I quickly stopped grumbling knowing that many other subversives throughout history had regularly deployed non des plumes.
But, but, but, who was this guy? Who was this Lawrence Clarkson in reality? Why, the subversive Ranter cum Digger of the English Revolution of 1640-5. A wild man and very anti money, Clarkson opposed the notion of sin saying it was “invented by the ruling class to keep the poor in order.” The guy therefore wanted all of us to participate in a kind of unlimited orgy though he did find time to link-up in socially progressive communal physical work joining Winstanley’s Digger experiment on St George’s Hill in Surrey only for Winstansley to quickly get rid of him. Needless to say modern day feminism would most likely have loathed Clarkson’s guts.
However, was Stuart in anyway like Lawrence Clarkson? Well perhaps in terms of the anti money / Diggers angle but beyond that it's a big NO. Stuart had enormous contacts with women but largely as part and parcel of the 'remote' vicinity he occupied and to be kept at a distance like he did with his much fewer male friends. In a way it was part of the afore mentioned Rimbaud-esque sydrome of that love that must be reinvented afresh and in the meantime a big void exists whereby we can't go back but neither can we move forward and all we can do is make a Kafka-esque signal of that hand at a lighted window waving towards you in the surrounding darkness. So his 'contacts' weren't at all down to earth in any touchy feely way; indeed hugging and sex hardly came into the equation, it was more about moving into the realm of the ethereal, even perhaps, quasi-spiritual reaching for an ideal that in present dire circumstances, cannot be found. In his diaries he constantly bangs on about love but in the sense that relationships are now impossible. Take the following diary entry: "28th October 2020. No girl friend only the fantasy of female companionship dead and living ones. I construct my love life out of thin air. It is better than the real thing - the 'real' people of our doomed time". One of his ethereal woman friend contacts one said to me (via email -what else?) "Stuart is very difficult". Alas, I could only agree... He did though really love the following women: Dorothy, Barbara, Joan, Samia ... So let's leave it there....
In a way, me, I, myself, - the twin - was ‘the woman’ ‘the wife’ (in the outdated sense of the term) who did all the mundane, practical tasks like cleaning up, going to the doctor’s, giving Stuart my own new clothes for him to wear, sorting out his living situation especially during his recurrent depressions. The basic problem was he increasingly needed someone to look after him especially when health issues started to figure, and all he had was my 'ornery self' with all my inadequacies to fall back on. Commendably Stu' was against domestication - including the family - as he felt such a nexus was inextricably linked to the acquistion of commodities even central to the deadly conundrum of commodity fetishism, the fulcrum of capitalist accumulation. If you like there was always something of Wilfred Owen's anti First World War poem, Strange Meeting in his stance: "I went hunting wild after the wildest beauty in the world / that lies not calm in eyes and braided hair" words he would shout out from Whitby cliff tops as a 16 year old... That didn't mean he was for singularity and isolation rather he wanted something like imaginative but responsible social communes free from money and consumerism, etc, communes that have yet to see the light of day... A true utopian who enjoyed putting up a bird box in praise of Fourier's "butterfly principle" in Matin Bell's Wood.
Stuart after the age of 40 often attended Depressive Anonymous groups only finally in his late 60s to be put off them because he reckoned they’d fallen into the dead–end of PC identity politics. It could be said some of his best ‘ethereal’ women contacts of all races were remarkable, especially his on-going contacts with often deeply depressed, suffering like hell, older Spanish anarchist women whom he often talked to me about. Indeed recent individual webs on the Revolt Against Plenty site illustrating often profound spray-painted comments writ large on Spanish or Latin American walls came via these great gals. One woman, Ana Bueno, he mentions in his always secret diary of the 22nd of April 2018 saying, “She is beautiful – and in pain. But I can only keep my distance, never meet. Only that way can love stay intact”. He previously said something similar in an entry dated 13th Sept 2017 regarding an older Polish woman shop floor worker in his local Poundland: “I have long had a soft spot for her. I would love a long, silent relationship with her where not one word passes between us”.
But who was Stuart, merely a persona - Lawrence Clarkson - to these individuals?? I just don’t know.
Latterly it was as if Stuart had gone into remote so often that he'd succeeded in putting himself under lock and key. Many were the times I had to divine what was being said trying confusedly to fill in essential missing bits and pieces. The worst omission came right towards the end when Stuart refused to tell me he had been informed by a consultant that he'd got terminal cancer still making out to me that he could carry on doing heavy, physical tasks on the Scrubs. The trouble is he really really could do this hard, often back-breaking slog without saying a word or even grimacing!! Northern grit? Well, heck, of course it came into it. Now though reading his diaries for the first time I'm in profound shock. Why, oh why? All I can say in retrospect is why on earth couldn't he have told me about his terminal cancer as it wouldn't have made much difference only to realise a couple of seconds later, of course it would! Obviously the twin thing had kicked in and he wanted to spare me the unbearable agony he knew I would feel. poor, decent, beyond the honourable, type of guy....
It could be said that Stuart expressed the final moments of his life as an extension of an uprising gone crazy in his head involving people within nature taking direct action followed by the inevitable bureaucratic. deadly counter attack from the ever more crazed powers that be. For sure before his final weeks in hospital, Stuart was suffering bouts of intense nervous collapse and one triggered by experiencing too much sabotaging of his ecological ventures by developers and their agenda fronted cleverly by "greenwash goons" and as such illustrated on some of his last placrds (see pictures above). It was however merely the first stages before the onset of a vicious bout of PSTD instigated by the the promoters (the real coffin bearers) of Suicide Capitalism. This was then made worse by a haphazard out of the blue, nightmarish conjuncture: Covid 19 along with neglect of cancer patients. During early 2020 Stuart found out he had 'manageable' prostate cancer but then everything went awry as chaos kicked-in as three bouts in hospital followed on in haphazard fashion as disintegration and confusion engulfed the NHS and one mirroring Stuart's own disintegration regarding his living conditions. He also wasn't picking up messages from the NHS as so many of his electricity cables had gone skew-whiff haphazardly strewn over his bedroom floor which he'd trip over ensuring his landline was often out of order. On top of this he was endlessly mislaying his mobile phone. It was almost as if he wanted to die as for the last 20 years or so he'd been thinking about suicide in one way or another at the same time as he'd admonish himself saying in his diary, "I must try and not succumb to despair". I'd get more than a whiff of this for many a year and it would fill me with almost unbearable agony.
As the emotional and physical pain got worse Stuart bit by bit was inevitably given stronger doses of morphine and finally inevitably along with the drug came the delusions, apart from the fact some were often insightful even remarkable within a paranoid paradigm. Towards the end he felt - profoundly felt - he was participating in the beginnings of a social / ecological uprising involving a somewhat avant-garde experiment with patients as part of a psycho-geographical experiment combining anti-psychiatry but done clandestinely as officially within the confines of NHS bureaucracy anti-psychiatry is still regarded as ‘one of those evil late 1960s things’ or something like. Back in the day, its chief proponent, R D Laing in The Divided Self along with other writings would go on about the Surrealist Antonin Artaud and so on. Interestingly, Stuart wasn’t too keen on this experiment he been fantasising about as he also found it “inhuman” even though nonetheless, he was also seeing Max Ernst frottages on the hospital walls alongside giant caterpillars. (I’d insist I couldn’t see them but then he’d get impatient with me suggesting it was part of my innate conservatism).
Once he even texted me very late at night that he’d suddenly become an unintended victim of this avant-garde experiment and was being slapped around to forcibly join in as a patient extra in some kind of hospital performance art enactment with cameras there at the ready. Desperate and freaked I didn’t know what to do. Call the hospital at the dead of night?? Instead I did nothing. I then nearly went crazy myself emitting uncontrollable wild shouts holding my head in agony. Damn, damn, damn the mobile phone!!
Inevitably given his penchant for abstractions, Stu’ began to consider the modern hospital as part of the containment / suppression of humanity’s liberatory potential under capitalism even describing the phenomenon finally as “the industrial / urban / hospital cum prison complex” – obviously referring to the way the Covid 19 nightmare was being obscenely used by an ultra predatory neo-liberalism. A means - if you like – of ensuring that capital accumulation becomes even more concentrated into the hands of the super rich, billionaire elite exercising ever greater powers along with the assistance of a 5G technocratic update. In fact he was taking notes on this trajectory in a diary he kept by his bedside. (A query: Has this diary been lost and has his pitiful bedside belongings been arbitrarily disposed of)? One thing’s for sure: the NHS hospital is no longer the humane retreat of even two decades ago whereby a certain “hospital communism” – as some described it at the time - was the order of the day.
Finding the hospital unliveable Stuart wanted me to organise a gang (the leftovers of our building gang?) that would facilitate his break-out; a gang who would arrive in the middle of the night crashing through the security doors of the convalescent home and then whisk him away. This fantasy took no account of the fact he couldn’t even walk and was visibly getting weaker by the day as the flesh seemed to fall off his limbs. Previously I’d always done a lot practically for Stu’ but now he wanted me to be reincarnated as Superman and JUST DO IT! PRONTO! In agony and dismay again I was admonished for my earthly limitations as I was becoming overwhelmed with despair which was clearly showing on my face.
For sure he wanted to be back home at all cost but where could I take him? I did discuss all of this with clinicians and what have you but they did shake their heads and I did agree with them. My flat was three stories up and small and his nearby ground floor flat was a No No as still too polluted regarding the risks of further infections. On top of that I was leery because of many past experiences when almost literally I had to walk behind Stu’ with a dust pan and brush as everything discarded was always dropped from his hands, as if I hadn’t, the whole place rapidly would have become the proverbial pig sty or rather a stu-sty, - nothing needless to say wrong with pig stys – though this time whatever sty would have been lethal.
He was always reiterating the same thing: if only he could get back home he’d get well again in no time as he knew how to handle his body to get himself moving and walking again. Could it have been true? But then he got incarcerated in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital and the place our fellow gang member Steve Jacobs had been sent to for his prostate cancer operation in 2019. Steve went through hell and referred to his stay as something like an “Auschwitz experience”, so much so that he finally threw a fit after undergoing mini-stokes which were ignored. He wasn’t even allowed to go to the toilet. And something of the latter was tohappen to me two years later (C/F email later) as I was treated like a criminal after a fit of grief beside my twin brother’s bed. In no uncertain terms I was truly an unwelcome visitor and was more or less forced – for my own sanity - to keep clear of this particular NHS institution. Little did I know I would never see Stuart again. A few days later and he was dead.
And then I felt guilty as hell, in fact so appallingly guilty that I think the feeling – that remorse - will never go away. Was I really the straight, conventional arsehole he was literally accusing me of being? Oh, shades of Baudelaire’s Confessions..... Evidentally in his last few hours of consciousness Stu’ was screaming, “David, David, David” Shithead that I am......
As for myself throughout the whole nightmare saga as days slipped into weeks even months, sleep at the very most became fitful and irregular and I started downing one kalm pill after another. Most nights I spent pacing my flat often hundreds of time from bedroom to living room to kitchen from where I’d look down from three storys up on an empty All Saints Road in London's Notting Hill desperately searching for relief in the smallest thing like the buzzing of a fly. Then dawn would gradually break and I’d view the street beginning to stir with desultory activity and if lucky for some obscure reason, cold and tiredness would hit my body and then I would sleep for a few hours only to suddenly wake in fear dreading texts on my switched off phone. Trembling I’d switch the miserable instrument on and if lucky the texts were sometime a little upbeat, at other times Stu’ was accusing me of virtually everything under the sun. It shattered me. Damn, damn. damn the mobile phone. Damn, damn, damn fucking twins.....
I was expected to perform miracles when my health at 78 years old was inevitably not that brilliant. Covid 19 had had a detrimental effect on my body too. My left eye cataract operation had been delayed as had some vascular surgery (stents?) on my legs; the latter meaning a walking stick had now become essential. I thus moved about ever afraid of falling but Stu’ ignored all of this as he had always done regarding my past illnesses. All this however is understandable seeing he knew inside that his end was approaching.
Is all this a condemnation of Stuart? I hope not but in a raw way it reveals the complexities of twin-ship from the popular notion of "terrible twins" to Manley Hopkins "life love-locked" twins. Never forget in and through togetherness we had produced often surreal – or rather maybe - situationist strength though in a complex way and one that fits in with these outrageously reactionary times. His strengths were often my weakness and vice versa. As a techie Stu’ was hopeless and utterly relied on me to sort things on his computers. After then it would be the toilet didn’t work and the doorbell didn’t ring, etc. The same was true of other necessities. Although he couldn’t organise building jobs and literally often didn’t know how to get paid (believe it or not) once on a job he was invariably brilliant able to sort out technical tasks in often ingenious ways and that ability was equally true of particular, practical eco problems out in the field or rather, Landscape of Contempt. Moreover, our twin relationship wasn’t a nicey nicey serene relationship. Instead it was fraught with passionate conflicting intensity interspersed with frequently violent interludes which didn’t really last long before the lovey-dovey - as if by magic – like a wave - would burst over us. Once in 1977 we had a passionate argument in Notting Hill's Ladbroke Grove just beneath the tube station bridge. I quite forget over what triviality but all hell broke loose between us as traffic screeched to a halt with blood seemingly everywhere. Cops were called but by the time they arrived we were both attending to each other’s wounds and the coppers shaking their heads were perplexed and decided not to nick us. Next day with the aid of walking sticks together with bits of sticking plasters on hands and faces we boarded a bus previously booked bound for Italy to fraternise with the Metropolitan Indians in Bologna then on to Turin to join the picket lines outside the car factories, etc. Subsequently, we looked so dishevelled with our cuts and bruises that many rebellious Italians we met and communed with thought we’d been beaten up by fascists or the riot police. We didn’t correct their assumptions as how the fuck could you have explained this conundrum when we couldn’t understand it ourselves?
The building gang though was well acquainted with this typical (?) twin behaviour and often laughing like hell would take no notice of it. On a more general level work-wise the gang was great at fixing faults in old or older properties, those of an artisanal / makeshift character but most certainly anti the legoland, algorithmic shit that is all the rage and nonsense these days. As the years and decades went by increasingly we worked for ad hoc marginal housing co-operatives making derelict buildings kinda ship shape in an odd ball way and it can be said – the perfect foil for our ecological interventions in ‘landscapes of contempt’. Indeed, as in the Bradford gorge we encouraged young people to try and squat in the newly created ecological arena we had occupied without permission as there were a few buildings nearby which were empty and had been for a long time. Inevitably at this juncture our wages on the buildings were low as we gradually conjured up a vision to be practised on something like a world-wide scale: a world without rent and property portfolios amidst a rejuvenated - anti parks and gardens - wild nature; a world freed moreover from passive consumption, resignation, entertainment, commoditisation, celebrity and money. Git off yer arses and move, move, move........ down with ALL bureaucratic structures up with flexible , horizontal social autonomy. But autonomy is not easy; it isn’t simply a quick fire, spontaneous gesture though that comes into it but is also product of bitter experience especially keeping well clear of officialdom in any shape or form.
But back to the hospital. Alongside delusional 'free association' as it were, Stuart did get friendly with the occasional truly subversive nurse or other ward staff whom I also instantly identified with as they condemned a stultifying, hierarchical NHS whilst hating all attempts at any further privatisation. Once in a transitory, ground floor convalescent single ward he overlooked a garden well stocked with plentiful magpies and squirrels along with a remarkable cortege of foxes headed – it seemed – by of all things, a white fox who would put his paws on the window sill and look at him. Stuart even reckoned he communed with these foxes in the middle of the night; moreover, he also reckoned he had enlightened conversations with a female nurse who gave the birds and animals lots of leftover food from the hospital kitchen.
Stuart reckoned that some of the nurses along with other essential staff often talked about joining unions with potential strike action in mind and it wasn't long before I overheard similar conversations. However, for Stuart on his doses of morphine the drift was more dramatic: revolution was in the air and insurrectionary tactics were in the offing! Is this perhaps one of the reasons why he became more and more belligerent during his second stay in hospital or was simple anguished despair becoming paramount and there was nothing left to lose? Inevitably consequences followed and he was placed in an isolation ward without windows which did indeed seem to imitate a plain white-walled window-less punishment cell. Or maybe this was simply to do with the need to prevent further infections? The quick result was he literally couldn't stand it as he desperately needed the company of other patients aswell as satisfying his simple human need to look out of a window. In response he started hollering and evidently smashed things up (exactly what I just don't know) but his outbursts worked and he was released from his hospital cum prison cell. One of the things he did say was he needed to get out and back into nature as the latter was the only reality that could sooth his troubles. This was backed up by the fact that he had been allowed to read a book while in ultra confinement and it was Cal Flynn's recent Islands of Abondonmemt. On reading the book he rapidly realised it had been influenced by Dialectical Butterflies and perhaps Revolt Against Plenty, so in something of a momentary up-lift he sent me a text saying, "Much of this has come from us in general outlook and Cal Flynn even argues for a Duchampian approach to nature even though she has quite a long way to go in grasping total critique". My instant response was the book seemed in drift to be something of a repeat of two years previously with the publishing of birdman Mark Cocker's book, Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It Is Too Late which then went on to lift descriptions from Dialectical Butterflies, especially one related to Mark Rothko, the American abstract expressionist painter. In both instances our names and webs weren't mentioned almost as if a giant NO/NO apparition had YET AGAIN appeared above the writers heads. At the time in his diary Stuart wrote:"Mark Cocker's book Our Place has come out. We aren't mentioned though we are the elephant in the room. A must read from the point of view of details but not much else besides. A glow worm in the dark is all that is left of my life." Yep. Cancel Culture had really hit town and an all enveloping smoke screen appeared on the horizon. Is it therefore surprising that Dialectical Butterflies was clandestinely gotten rid of? The only thing that is now allowed to see the light of day must be nothing more than Guardianista virtue signalling and greenwashing plus support for a two-faced Nature Bureaucracy. Indeed Cocker in Our Space calls for a kind of TUC (Trades Union Congress) of nature organisations obviously never realizing that back in the day especially during the late 1960s to the mid 1980s the TUC was the original two-faced racket as wildcat strikers - still tenuously linked to the bureaucratic outfit above them of the TUC - were calling the shots creating inspiring havoc often proclaiming openly the need to get rid of capitalism once and for all. What we still want - and what the younger generation is hopefully beginning to grap - is a combination of increasingly aware autonomous revolt throughout work places, urban spaces and most importantly feeling an ever greater affinity with the natural world. No wonder Stu' was delighted when Ramon of Burning Pink (the XR breakaway group) sprayed pink paint over the outside of the Guardian offices early on 2021. Stuart was (perhaps) even more pleased on 2nd April 2021 when he texted me some of the bumph they used on their London mayoral gambit: "Everything lived is now spectacle" as if Stu's situationist influenced life had not all been in vain.
In his final nightmare sojourn in hospital, Stuart became a good buddy of an especially open-minded senior nurse from Guiana who looked remarably like our old mate Alex who also hailed originally from Guiana before settling in New York's Bed' Stuy' before jumping ship to finally live in Notting Hill. You really could open up with Alex (mark 2) in no-holds barred conversation. He tried to get Stuart to walk again but to no avail finally whispering to me the dreaded words which I already knew but refused to regognise: "I'm afraid Stuart has given up". My mind raced as I linked Stu' response to "The Great Refusal" that epithet from late 1960s contestation and picked up deftly by Herbert Marcuse. It was like as if this refusal with Stu' had gone into car crash overdrive colliding with slow-motion suicide together with Herman Melville's Bartelby who endlessly repeated that wringing phrase, "I'd prefer not to" (Stu' really rated the story) as he finally preferred not to walk or live. The negation of the negation of death and his un-crowning glory lies in Martin Bell's Wood on Wormwwod Scrubs Common......
One of the last acts Stuart engaged in, even though in physical agony, was a visit in May 2020 to the anti HS2 camp adjacent to Chats Paddock on the Scrubs to hand out some leaflets we had done for an XR demo in central London a couple of years previously. One of the leaflets was on the destruction of Woolley Colliery the other on the destruction of the finest insect site in inner London at Mitre Bridge about a hundred metres away. This heinous crime had been covered up by the local Scrubs greenwashers and remains so to this day. Evidently for Stuart the meeting at the camp proved to be a really enlightened encounter which unfortunately he wasn't able to follow up.
Rather than continuing to write about my trauma, rigtly or wrongly, in a somewhat too passionate yet also intellectualised manner, maybe it's best to merely record a number of emails -sent out and received - on the occasion of Stuart's death simply because they contain tellingdetails plus a wonderful display of emotion
Thu, Oct 28, 2021 David Wise to Jerry Dickens (Jerry is the guy from Bread and Circuses publications who put together couple of books around King Mob)
Sorry to say but Stuart died during the night in Chelsea and Westminster hospital. He'd developed prostate cancer but mainly was suffering from a gigantic nervous breakdown which confined him to his bed for the last few months. He also let his flat fall into pieces and then pains starting developing all over his body as various infections all over. The cancer went aggressive and hit his liver, lungs and kidneys. He no longer could walk - nor wanted to - and said he “just wanted to die”. He was finally shattered by the ruthless developmental agenda on the Scrubs. This was on top of all the trouble in Bradford re the destruction of the Great Gorge which so obsessed John Ruskin and which in the last two decades had spawned its own magnificent, wayward nature which we went out of our way to protect and encourage by further wilding. This destruction was spurred on by ex deputy PM, Nick Clegg's baneful Aire Valley Regeneration Plan, never forgetting that Nick Clegg is now Zuckerberg's right hand Facebook / Meta Man. Between 2014-16, the council along with the police went out to arrest us but we got out of town with the help of Red and Green lawyers in Bristol. But the council bullies nailed Barbara who lived by herself in Bradford and forced here to hand over incriminating evidence about us. Babs was alone, bullied and terrified. Fortunately the 'evidence' couldn't be proven but then the poor gal caught sepsis and died in Bradford Infirmary in 2016. Stuart was in bits about Babs and never recovered from the shock because he simply couldn't really live without her. Then things just seemed to get worse and worse on almost every level with Stu' saying things like, "We've lost the eco battle and I cannot carry on cos’ there's no hope left", etc.....
I don't know what to do...
Best. Dave x
On Fri, Oct 29, 2021 email from David Wise to Jerry Dickens
Actually these three articles above on the Revolt Against Plenty web are also an extension of Dialectical Butterflies and Icteric. Indeed From Russia with Love ends on a very clear-cut ecological note regarding our transformation of Martin Bell's Wood on Wormwood Scrubs which also links up with Icteric in an explicit way in the sense of outlining a slowly evolving movement from greenwash artefact to authentic wilding. I'll also forward you a lovely email from Una Burnard a 23 year old who had kinda joined forces with Burning Pink and a more revolutionary breakaway from XR. She filmed us doing things on the Scrubs as we talked to her at the same time.
The following emails are from a number of sympathetic fellow travellers and / or individuals who knew Stuart
Below: Email from Phil Meyler in Dublin and prominent member of King Mob who later wrote Portugal: the Impossible Revolution and the finest book on the Portuguese uprising of the mid 1970s.
Dearest Dave, (Oct 29th 2021)
I am so sorry to get this news, and I feel dreadful, such a shame. It is going to take me a bit to absorb this. Things were so abysmal that there was hardly anything to hope for.
I am so so sorry that you have to bear this. I just hope there is someone to comfort you in this horrible moment. I am devastated by it.
I will write you later on when I absorb the shock.
Lots of hugs for you.
Sunday, October 31, 2021 email from Dave Wise to Sila Trevor of The Michel Prigent Commemoration group
Just got up. That mirtazapine drug really is powerful but it does take the edge off suicidal feelings. That was the worst thing for me, seeing Stu’ just before he died covered in dried blood slash marks from scissors he’d used on himself to end it all. No wonder in desperation the last time I saw him though a few days later I screamed and banged my head against a wall in his isolation unit, only then to get carted off to a ward guarded by police who wouldn’t let me leave the building or go to the nearby toilet. I then pissed in a nearby sink only to get shoved around by a vicious cop. I was then ordered to take my clothes off. The Doc who then came to see me was horrified at how I’d been treated. He turned out to be a really decent guy and quickly released me from the unit. I came home in bits....
Below is the Dialectical Butterflies web which I sent to Jerry Dickens yesterday and who is going to put a book together on the eco writings of Nik Holliman and ourselves. It will be called Dialectical Butterflies.
Best. Dave xx
Email from Amanda Gender and a sympathetic participant on the Scrubs
Dear David, (Nov 1 2021)
This is devastating news. I am so, so sorry. Ann and I were worried when we hadn’t seen or heard from you both and in the last email I had from Stuart he sounded very low.
Thank you so much for sending me the link to the website, it looks fascinating.
I admire you both so much for the work you have done on the Scrubs. Martin Bell’s Wood is a beautiful oasis and I very much hope it will be preserved in his memory.
When you feel up to it could you possibly write something about what you have done and what you planned to do in MBW? I would like to try to find a way to continue the project.
I send my deepest sympathy for your loss. As you say, a martyr and an unsung hero. I am grateful to you for letting me know.
Email from Una Burnard who is in the process of making a film of our activities on Wormwood Scrubs Common
Hi David, (Nov 2nd 2021)
I am devastated to read this email. I am so extremely sad. It is shocking to hear but I can understand what you are saying about the world had been driving Stuart to the end of his wits; it was crushing to see whenever I spoke with him. All my love extends to you right now, this must be heart breaking and I cannot imagine the pain these past few months will have brought you as you have seen him slip away. This concrete jungle is sucking us all in.
I went for a walk on the Scrubs this morning with my dad and sister and the sunshine, frosty grass and muddy puddles brought me so much joy which I feel I have been missing recently. I’d lost my connection with nature for a bit and was feeling low, depressed by the constant ‘developments’ around me. For the first time in a while I felt peaceful and calm walking over the Scrubs. I thought of you and Stuart as our dogs ran in to the bushes and areas that your hard work over the past years has turned into the most beautiful havens. It seems so strange to me that it is today of all days that I then open my emails to see this sad news from you.
I will forever be gratefull I was able to meet Stuart and experience his joy while you worked away together as well as his firm and inspiring anger.
I hope to see you soon, there are so many, many things I want to talk with you about and learn from you.
Below:( 30th Oct 2020) email to Sila Trevor regarding the Michel Prigent Commemoration group evening on Stuart and King Mob.
Just some more attachments. A couple of drawings plus examples of pouches we put up in Martin Bell's Wood on the Scrubs and quickly torn down although the barricade - to protect rare wild flowers wasn't - even though the council bureaucrats strongly disapproved. However the suits didn't want to get their hands dirty and the actual council wokkers were, more or less, on our side! Also Stu's photos of 2 really rare moths: The Hornet Clearwing and Blue Underwing, The latter is the size of a small song bird and our biggest moth. If we hadn't cleared the wood of catastrophically invasive bramble - massively caused by CO2 fertilizing - mainly from car exhausts producing the wrong greening and what the feminists call "the bully plants" - none of these insects would have arrived. Regarding the drawings, idiots would say "You only say "Art is Dead" cos you were useless artists who couldn't paint or draw". Simply not true!
Best. Dave x
The instant reply from Sila was: “That's some lovely stuff.... let’s talk tomorrow again”
Above: These drawings above were done as forms of thank you to individuals who helped out or were supportive in different, often technical ways, and would never take money as recompense. They weren’t meant for art galleries, etc.......The top two related to phantasy monsters around Semerwater in North Yorkshire, the bottom two, monsters around Southend-on-Sea
Below: On Wed, Nov 3, 2021 email from David Wise
In a way Dialectical Butterflies was partially a recording of the butterflies and moths beginning to appear in and around parts of West Yorkshire and which official ecos had no knowledge of seeing they lived a very conformist, domesticated life style. They simply couldn't get down and dirty. On the contrary, we were rebels - ex anarcho King Mob to the core - and that meant searching places where no respectable person would go. Hence we discovered wonders. But that wasn't enough neither. Around 2010 we began to realise we must create more of these "Landscapes of Contempt" not merely record their profundities. Working behind our backs, we were tapping into the mood of the times as the Occupy movement had taken took off in many places world-wide even though pitiable in UK plc. We then honed in on the old ex Industrial gorge in Shipley (Bradford) and Woolley Colliery doing all kinds of seemingly 'crazy' things. (In passing Len Bracken - the American biographer of Debord - found them "really wild") We called our experiments "Nameless Wilding" which, in itself comes from the first King Mob Echo mag of 1967 re the last page and the dancing 16th century peasants illustration alongside a passage from Vaneigem's The Revolution of Everyday Life. In this illustration entitled The Prehistory of the Id an imagined revolutionary peasant says of his personage "I am called Nameless Wildness" Wow, that's what we were. Hence the Nameless Wilding tags. And then the shit hit the fan as the authorities started to come for us.........
So, perhaps on the front cover of the book maybe a tag like Tsunamis around King Mob needs to be mentioned as simply a promo that people will pick up on????? Whatever.
Below from Paul Whitlock (Michel Prigent Commemoration Group) Nov 4th 2021
I was very sorry to hear about Stuart and wanted to pass on my heartfelt condolences. I was a long time friend of Michel and, though we have never met, I have known of you and Stuart from afar (so to speak). I'm also familiar with your writings through BM Blob and the RAP website. Many years ago I remember being enthralled by your brilliant pamphlet on the 1981 uprising, Like a Summer with a Thousand Julys.
I lost my kid-sister earlier this year (she was only 53) and that was a very painful experience, so I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be to lose a twin brother. Yesterday I attended the tribute to Stuart that Sila organised. You might be heartened to hear that many warm words were spoken and there was a lot of appreciation for everything you and Stuart have done together. Nik did a nicely considered tribute, reflecting on Stuart's life and ideas, and we shared his beautiful placards that you circulated.
I also discovered that we are from the same neck of the woods, as Dave B said that as kids you and Stuart used to get into a lot of scrapes around Newton Aycliffe way. I grew up down the road from there in an abandoned pit village called Eldon. Chances are we've had our arses kicked by the same farmers.
Last night we were reflecting on what seems like the passing of a generation with Michel going, then Charlie Radcliffe and now, Stuart. So whatever you do make sure you look after yourself because we can't afford to lose anymore!
I've been taking a trip down memory lane with Dave (Wise) as we've discovered that we grew up in the same area and even went to the same school. He was happy to share this email about his and Stu's childhood with the group.
From: David Wise To: Paul Whitlock Sent: Thursday, 4 November 2021,
Thank you so very much. We were born in Newcastle but initially raised in Heighington Stn and went to school in Shildon. The school we called Tin Tacks as its real name was Timothy Hackworth's, Used to often stay overnight at my Uncle Charlie's & Aunty Eugie's. He was a chippy in the wagon works and where they lived looked across to Brusselton Folly and Eldon. He once took us down the pit (secretly) at Eldon when we were only 7 years old. Then we went to Leaholme Sec Mod (after failing 11 plus) and then onto Newton Aycliffe, where finally I was accused by the cops of setting fire to the scout hall and chopping the adjacent flag pole down where flew the good old union jack! I hadn't but was instrumental in the raucous evening proceeding it where a few of us including Stu' were together in an equally raucous skiffle group (with washboard guitars and banjo) shouting out Leadbelly's call-and-response "Meeting at the Building will Soon be Over" that went on for nigh on a hour. The verses got more and more outlandish, etc, with us shouting out things like "Fucking at the Building will soon be over" 'Bashing Coppers at the Building will soon be over" and so on. We were all Jazz mad as was so much of the North East. With Stu' and me it was a mixture of nature / jazz and Van Gogh...
Jeez, Paul you brought me to pain-releasing tears.
Al the Best. Dave
P.S. If you like send the above to the entire Michel Commemoration group
Dear David, (Nov 7th 2021)
Today there was a walk and a talk on the Scrubs by Tilly Collins, an ecologist who teaches at Imperial. She is an eminently sensible and knowledgeable woman I think. She talked us through a map of the Scrubs and when she got to MBW she said that although she had never met you and Stuart she saw that it was being beautifully managed with a light hand and the information you put up was informative and apposite. I put up my hand to say that Stuart has died and it is possible that your work might not continue. I know you are not keen on professional ecologists, and having met the Stefan person from the LBHF council I can quite understand why. But I thought it would be so great if a group of students from Imperial and other volunteers could be led by you to continue the work. I cannot bear the thought of MBW getting overgrown by brambles again and losing the violets and vetch and primroses and the terrilles and all your and Stuart's work going to waste.
When you feel up to it let me know what you think. I spent yesterday evening re-reading Stuart's emails with much sadness but also much admiration, you are both so aptly named Wise.
Below: further email from Una Burnand
Hi David, (Nov 7th 2021)
Thank you for passing on this last email, I got in contact with Jerry and ended up logging on to the zoom tribute for Stuart. It was lovely to hear stories and tributes from your friends and the people you have met along the way. I hope you manage to watch the recorded moments sometime when you feel strong enough, the impact you have both had on these people and the world has been so huge and so important.
These placards of Stu’s are amazing and I would love to help put them up somewhere in the wood - please let me know if you would like to do that and/or have any help doing so.
This must be the most difficult time for you and I am wishing you all the best during these emotionally draining and devastating days.
I am so glad I managed to film with you in the summer and capture your pure essence as a pair; those short moments are some of my happiest to look back on whenever I am walking on the Scrubs. You turned it into something magical and beautiful, I will forever be grateful to you both for that.
Dearest David Nov 8th 2021)
I’m so so very sorry for your loss and the loss to the world of dearest Stuart I can’t imagine how empty and painful life is for you without him. We will miss him so very much. The world will miss him but his uniqueness and passion has made this world a more beautiful brave and bold place to live and to rebel and to fight for what’s right.
I am copying Finn into this as he is away and he will be very sad to learn this. We were talking of you both just last weekend and wishing we could see you.
Please let us know how you are and if you would like to meet up. Is there a celebration of Stu’s amazing life. Please count us in and if you can face a trip to the Scrubs with passionate friends then we would love to do that too and we will commune with lovely Stu and all hug and comfort one another.
So very much love to you.
Cate (and Finn ). Xx and Cookie. Xx
No need to explain. I think you need some numbing of the pain and shock and grief for a while with the meds to help u through. Time will heal. Please give me a bell and if there’s anything I can do or Finn can do we would love to and we are so with you. Please take care of yourself. You have to fly the flag and that will bring you both together again and strong and still in the thick of it. I can’t imagine a world without your influences and presence. You’ve shifted things and brightened the world and people’s hearts and minds. Let’s meet for a coffee or a walk someday soon. Cate and Finn X
Sent from my iPhone
Below: emails from French friends mainly around the former Os Cangaceiros
jackot jackot (Nov 4th 2021)
I will do something to mark Stuart memory, could you tell me 2/3 songs he particularly liked?
Also, with Insomniaque éditeur, we would like to translate and publish your book about King Mob history, but I does not find the book in my mess (and on Internet, it is sold at crazy prices!). So if you could send me one or if you can send me the PDF, it would be nice.
I think a lot about you, I hope you are not too bad....
All the best, my friend
Dear Dave –on Stuart. From Morgane (Nov 8th 2021)
Terrible to hear the terrible news Jack sent me. It took me a few days to be able to write to you. Since you’re in my mind all day long and I think of all the good times we spent together. Jack also sent me some videos that I started to watch. The first one (an interview with both of you wearing masks). I just have the feeling to be in the room on the sofa like during the evenings we spent so many times at your place in All Saints drinking your home made wine. It’s so good to see you both again even through a screen!!!! I read the mail you sent to Jack and how difficult and harassed you’ve both been in the last few years. So depressing times!!! Here after the great hope brought by the Yellow Vests movement (something we ‘d long for 40 years!!) came an unprecedented repression lead by the most arrogant and repressive government ever in France. Then followed by the Covid crisis and the opportunity for this government to carry on all the reforms they wanted to impose (reform of the pensions, reform of the unemployment allowance, so many suicides amongst students during the last year lock down because they couldn’t work and had no means of survival etc ). And we can see the result now. More and more people thrown into poverty and it’s just the beginning!!
What’s more is the huge confusion amongst the different social movements. A real offensive of the far right (anti Semitism, anti migrants) trying to recuperate the anti sanitary pass movement and creating so many divisions!!!! The only real winner is the State.
I would like to speak about all that with you and hope it will be possible at one time. If you think it could help you to ease your pain you’re welcome to my place any time, or we could meet in Paris with Jack if you prefer.
We haven’t been in touch for many years but I really hope we’re gonna be in contact again.
With all my heart
Lots of love
Hello Dave, From Rémy. (Nov 9th 2021)
I learned about Stuart, from Jack and Morgane. Really too sad and hard for everyone. And I understand how much Stuart suffered from all these accumulations of attacks on the simplest ways of living. We live in dirty times while trying to comfort ourselves by telling ourselves that this is sinister confusion that we hope is temporary. After the extraordinary and marvelous assault that the Yellow Vests were, we are slowly coming back almost backwards. Discussions are often complicated and quickly aggressive. Everyone thinks that their little world is the world. For many, only emotions and affects seem to construct a sham of thought. It is the time which wants that too: a world which is undone, which panics with its morbid immediacy and which carries with it so many forces, desires and human exchanges. It's been so many years since we crossed paths.
I have not forgotten our meetings in Notting Hill and the evenings in Kilburn with the famous «home made wine…»
Thoughts of you, Comrade.
Then from Ireland
Hello Dave, (Nov 9th 2021
I was so very sorry to learn via Geoff Branch that your brother Stuart had died. It must be a very painful loss for you. You were together so much and shared such great commitment to the environment and other good causes.
I think of you both as pioneer eco- warriors working away at the Scrubs before biodiversity was much thought about. A couple of heroes!
Don’t know if you are in London at present or maybe Yorkshire but I hope you have good friends to console you.
I am still in Ireland as I have had my own health problems but making a strong recovery and expect to be right as rain after convalescence, and back in London.
I find in my rather solitary state here that nature is a great companion. It lifts the heart and this autumn is stunningly beautiful to show us what we must rise to save or could blindly lose.
Sending you much sympathy Dave.
Nov 16, 2021. Maryann from Dublin
I was very touched to get your message and can imagine, to an extent, what it must be like for you at present. I do know that sense of devastating absence after losing someone so close to you. After my long term partner Patrick died I searched our flat desperately trying to find a hint of his aliveness without finding any solace. And being a twin has the complexity of both a lifelong comfort and often terrible struggle for independence.
Your friend Nik gave a wonderful valedictory and I love the Arthur Eddington quote :
Hold onto that.
Sending you a lovely sunrise from Co. Dublin. You may have to wait awhile for the dawn to reach you but it will.
Be easy with yourself.
Below and click on the above: The final paragraphs from Russia With Love on the REVOLT AGAINST PLENTY web
Let’s end this longish text on a miniscule particular experiment. Among the photos here are four belonging to a series of bird boxes we placed in Martin Bell’s Wood on Wormwood Scrubs, west London during the spring of 2020. In some respects their acknowledged Fourier-like drift of thought mirrors the previous sentiments penned by Sila Trevor. One final point: why did it take so long to write-up this longish text on the Russian events plus The Square both having taken place some time ago? Simples. Although we are well able to proclaim the message of autonomous eco intervention marking out a future liberatory passage related to the supersession of art, there was another pressing need far, far superseding just another theoretical text; meaning an on-going hands on praxis was more than essential. It had become axiomatic. PRAXIS, PRAXIS and yet more low-profile PRAXIS. It was now overwhelmingly necessary to prove that we could take over a few acres of semi urban public land; a kind of marginal nutcase arena where a wide variety of off-limits, sometimes shady, semi-industrial down home ‘businesses’ – for want of a better description - once flourished spreading over a constantly changing welling-up base of a thoroughly unusual, even turbulent ancient artesian well. This well had become overgrown with un-navigable bramble thickets yet within a few years we massively increased the area’s bio-diversity…How did we do this? Basically we uprooted often six metres high, seemingly never ending bramble bushes sprouting from huge bulbous roots buried in yawning deep, ever moving grykes welling up from underground cavernous streams. We needed this to be recognised, and indeed it was recognised - often with astonishment - and proclaimed as such by those familiar with the external sides of this formerly dense rubble-like bocage, peppered with rough sleepers. Indeed, this wood gradually revealed itself as something strange and magnificent as the shape of crazy, awry trees seemed to possess a human quality, of having taking up their roots for an occasional hidden from view walk; or if you like, a practical realisation of the magical fairy tale wood. Seeing the earth beneath endlessly moves so tree roots do the same in tandem becoming in the moonlight a friendly Triffid maze as the many squirrels also morph into elves. No wonder children now love this ‘magic’ arena stimulating the mind to wander in riotous regions and for their dogs to go mad scenting all other animals like as if they’d taken a hit of doggy smell, rare quality LSD.
In some ways this burning ecological necessity inside our souls to keep on going in Martin Bell’s Wood reminds one of a statement from Gerard Winstanley in the 1640s, never forgetting that Winstanley was a lost and buried subversive his memory extinguished by the baneful but mighty ideology of the British Empire until Germany’s Eduard Bernstein and a significant early social democrat, in the late 19th century revived Winstanly’s often terrific contribution:“Many things were revealed to me which I never read in books, nor heard from the mouth of any flesh. Yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted - that words and writing were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all. And if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing. I took my spade and went broke the ground upon St George Hill in Surrey”.......
As an aside, in Martin Bell’s Wood, the crazy artesian terrain also beckoned we re-create ‘spoil heaps’ again but not like the aforementioned Icteric art gallery exhibits in Newcastle; rather they were necessary so essential plants for larvae of all kinds could survive set above an often dank base. Most importantly there was no prior artistic ego at work here, no ‘oeuvre’ in play and as much as possible we worked low profile – even semi-hidden and anonymous. Nonetheless a certain infamy plus growing fear of our practical and nature knowledgeable capabilities began spreading far and wide initially among local inhabitants though after a couple of years or so even penetrating the unfathomable minds of bureaucratic eco-officialdom. All this was enhanced by the simple fact that no money, no wages, no sponsorship was involved in this labour of yearning love. It took three years of sheer toil from 2017 onwards to do this leaving virtually little time for writing or even travel! The reality was low key, day in /day out back-breaking work never forgetting we are old timer coffin dodgers whom the authorities tended to dislike even loath. But we gave as good as we got as in turn we regarded the authorities as imbecilic. However, because we didn’t ask permission to do what we were doing we inevitably suffered constant harassment, no more so than when an armed cop patrol pounced on us saying they’d been informed we were “burying bodies!” Luckily the guy in charge was a Geordie from Newbiggin and once a particular joke related to his Northumberland town was mentioned by us, laughter broke out and the confrontational atmosphere instantly evaporated. Phew!
One final comment which needs to be endlessly nuanced: what we are doing ecologically isn’t about protecting centuries old areas of “outstanding natural beauty” rather it’s about realising the fecund potentialities of hidden away territories often referred to as “landscapes of contempt”. For the future with the distinct prospect that cities will fall apart as hubs of capitalismmeans at the very least cities will have to be reimagined. Previously “landscapes of contempt” usually referred to former post industrial ‘blight’ i.e. terrains of muck and dirt, often surrounding abandoned broken down buildings morphing into rubbish dumps, etc. Tomorrow, post Covid-19-84 this definition will have to be broadened to include former financial locations that have fallen by the wayside and which will be in the process of being re-colonised by ‘new’ nature alongside a possible ‘new indigenous’ / multinational community of imaginative rough-ish de-domesticated sleepers with something of an all-rounded vision of a new world to realise. We therefore hope our probing experiments and insights will be copied and improved upon EVERYWHERE. And in the last few weeks lo and behold the official ecos have deployed some slogans we put on totem poles to head their clicktivist campaign against the proposed destruction of part of Wormwood Scrubs Common by HS2.
However, the ins-and-outs of this experiment especially in Martin Bell’s Wood needs an in-depth explanation though alas all that remains for another day. …….. For sure – reinforcing what was said in the introduction - much of this tract may seem haphazard, pointlessly wide-ranging even disconnected, but isn’t this practically perhaps how a revolutionary totality possibly might unfold in real life? Apropos the aforementioned return of the Icteric terrills post the nearby Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 something real bad happened. Substitute school buildings were erected on a nature-rich occasional car park adjacent to Martin Bell’s Wood which destroyed a remarkable swathe of bee orchards, unique for inner London. In response we handed out a leaflet Destruction by Aesthetics which mentioning the bee orchids also alludes to Dmitry Pisarev –our old friend from 50 years ago whose name again turned up in our furious tracts to Tate Modern authorities regarding the jailing of Alexander Art.
Finally some telling footnotes to our ecological adventures
What has been conveniently forgotten is that the situationists in the mid to late 1960s hit the headlines with an all out attack on the ever more vapid modern day university deriding academia like never before in history and in response stimulating throughout the world the most radical student uprising ever; one most intensely experienced in Europe and America. This indisputable fact has now been politely deleted as fifteen or so years later after the shock waves had died down academic recuperation of situationist radicalism rapidly gathered pace as simultaeneously its cutting edge was considerably blunted having lost its inspirational appeal. This coincided with a similar recuperation within the cultural realm as anti art situationist output morphed into valued artistic commodities going, going, going, gone under the auctioneers hammer for ludicrous prices as well as millionairing offers especially from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.
Ah, it will be said but you sold King Mob artefacts to London’s Tate Modern. True, but only for a relative pittance (from 4 to 5,000 quid) and the money was promptly handed over to a poor working class woman in desperate circumstances. For ourselves we had another motive for the sale and one more in line with Debord’s notion of “necessary opportunisms”. It was done as a form of protection if you like knowing that our eco interventions were beginning to provoke the wrath especially of local authorities more or less backed up by an array of official nature organisations, meaning these dumb fucks would perhaps hesitate to prosecute frightened there might be a Tate blowback labelling them philistines. Seeing we were so ultra isolated, it was indeed one of the few weapons we could pick up to protect ourselves and we deployed it. Around the same time as the Tate acquisitions or rather, just after, we handed over a big amount of King Mob regalia all for free including a large amount of posters to Andrew Burgin of Counterfire and Housman’s Bookshop who in return promised to publish in dead tree format some of the polemical articles on the Revolt Against Plenty / Dialectical Butterflies webs. Instead he made out we were money grubbers especally to Ian Bone of anarchist Class War and an honourable guy. Worse was to come as Burgin reneged on the deal which was sealed in the time-honoured radical tradition of a spoken agreement and not via a lawyer’s signed edict, thus pocketing a lot of money from the often hugely inflated prices this commodified radicalism can bring albeit in an up and down market. Yet we were criticised as the moneygrubbers!
Furthermore, we had worked as builders on Burgin's 3 storeys house in inner London for a very cheap rate which it's true he duly recognised - and offered to increase. We declined of course as only too glad somebody was prepared to help out and publish some of our obviously despicable bullshit. The reality of course was the exact opposite; seeing us as naive patsies to be taken to the cleaners. Furthermore, during 2014 when brutish elements in Bradford Council were considering prosecuting us I (rather desperately) emailed Burgin for possible assistance regarding some leftist lawyer he might know who could come to our aid. The email wasn't even replied to.
Moreover, we'd come from a background where there was no money or property to be handed on, and as for eco interventions, well all that was a labour of love where the cash nexus didn't exist in any form whatsoever ....which of course for those colonised by the MSM means, yet again, the exact opposite; just what skullduggery, low down tricks are you playing so you can really mint it?? Yep, it's Dostoevsky's The Idiot all over again!
What Burgin did simply added to the ferocious attack on us in the last few years and all part and parcel of an intensifying counter revolution which seems to get worse by the day. Moreover, Guy Debord’s former companion and once staunch ally Michel Prigent was of the same opinion saying – just before he too kicked the bucket - that Burgin was money mad. I was surprised seeing I thought Burgin and Mich’ were over the years quite close and it took Nik Holliman (author of the previous valedictory) to put me right on that score. Sadly, the nitty gritty of this 'intensifying' counter revolution can tip you over the top, as indeed it has done with many a former dear companion, and I think that is what also happened to Stu' who slowly but remorselessly spiralled down over finally collapsing into the motions of slow suicide, some of the details of which I've agonizingly portrayed here. Indeed his death certificate mentions severe depression as a factor in the progress of his cancer. It's utterly traumatised me as I slowly watched the process unfold inside Stuart’s body not knowing what to do or who to turn to. AND THEN THE END. Finally I then had no choice but to send the unfinished gist of this introduction to other people in order to get it off my chest yet feeling so unsure about heart-rending details particularly as I felt a real shit for not bringing him back home although I realize it's easy to say all this in retrospect. I was literally in a Catch 22 situation as at home, apart from the mess, he wouldn’t have gotten the same never-ending supply of oral feed morphine which eased some of his misery.
The agony of eco destruction unleashed and then internalised inside the human body - as the heart is torn asunder - also relates to the two long letters I sent To Lewis Parker of Void magazine regarding our experiences in Bradford, Woolley Colliery spoil heap and on the Scrubs. Extracts of these two letters are included here. There is one bright spot within them and that relates to Martin Bell’s Wood on Wormwood Scrubs Common, London. In fact regarding the latter there was suddenly something of an astounding about turn which we never experienced in the north - and that was broadly brought about by women openly praising our activities who accomplished such a major sea change (which is why I’ve put in here that last extract From Russia with Love from the RAP web.
In a way the Dialectical Butterflies web had come to a conclusion before all the REAL trouble started and I think that's one of the reasons it was a couple of years or so ago suddenly deleted by the administrator without our knowledge as the Revolt Against Plenty web had completely taken over - or at least it makes a good excuse for having done the dirty deed!
Further points: It could be said that Dialectical Butterflies was perhaps the most radical, avant-garde cum anarcho-leftist web site on butterflies in the world. In its heyday a number of people also voiced this opinion out loud not least John Marchant, a gallery owner who had cultivated the fall out from Punk Rock (i.e. Jamie Reid who designed many of the covers for the Sex Pistols recordings, etc) wanted to turn Dialectical Butterflies into a physical book only for him subsequently to fall on hard times. In its day Dialectical Butterflies, alongside the 15 or so innovatory films accompanying the web and which were something of a breakthrough in themselves, made a huge impact especially in northern England. Often out in ‘the field’ – as it were - individuals of all ages, potential eco-malcontents (?) would come up to us amidst the muck and detritus of spoil heaps, old quarries and the like asking if we knew anything about the web, obviously accurately sensing some connection, as invariably we had tools in our hands or were engaged in digging, etc. However, as a precautionary measure, we never revealed ourselves fully to people we didn’t know as simply nervous about identification and subsequent reprisals as we became more and more sharply critical of all those bodies and groups laying claim to preserving nature when our fraught hands-on experience daily proved this was the last thing they were doing often hand-in-glove with the developers agenda.
Dialectical Butterflies came to a full stop with the Nameless Wilding one page webs, the latter recording our practical reimagining of that Bradford gorge through which a former filthy canal flowed, and a canal that obsessed John Ruskin in the mid 19th century. Our effort though was a reimagining of the gorge focussing primarily on assisting its rich insect life. Then shortly afterwards we got the shock of our lives as we attacked brutally seemingly from all quarters of officialdom! Our hit and run response was to put together many explanatory written pouches tied around lamp posts, etc, plus wall graffiti - most of which were then put up on the RAP web like as if we had been thrown back to our youthful King Mob days of subversive action. The reality NOW however was the activity of coffin dodgers, instigated by senile delinquents! The authorities though didn't give a flying fuck about age whether you were 25 or 75 as all that mattered to them was stopping us at all costs. (See the previous emails for more info..)
Finally our last hope was to bring about the creation of eco work brigades taking over London parks armed with a vision of clued-in active wilding underpinned by an emphasis on autonomy utterly opposed to the obfuscations of a hierarchical nature bureaucracy befogged with compromises in the interests of developmental agendas essentially guided by the diktats of asset management and profit. When we outlined such proposals for sure young people were really attracted only then to immediately hit ugly barriers. Most were slaving away in shit jobs making things for these gals and guys difficult practically on a day to day basis. Also, although their hearts were in the right place they were often woefully informed about wild nature seeing much of their knowledge inevitably came courtesy of a physically distant, omnipotent screen rather than through authentic down and dirty mucking about: in short, real life active participation as opposed to reel-life passive consumption! In response we realised how important it was to have some fall-back economic anchor bureaucratically imposed across society; something a like Universal Basic Income giving youngsters freedom of manoeuvre to engage in such essential experiments allowing them to ditch the full-on miseries of a woeful gig economy. Ah, UBI! Is it perhaps the last decent measure a moribund, disintegrating bureaucratic neo-liberal state can make before – or even leading up to – that essential fissure bursting up from below with the declared aim of finally overthrowing capitalism abolishing wage labour, money and the fetishism of commodities?
Further points: Throughout the 12 year existence of Dialectical Butterflies other eco malcontents started contacting us, the web becoming something of a focal point. In the north the most interesting was Martin White a really unconventional, very clued in – pro cycling /anti car culture – bo-ho who lived with his mother on the Yorks / Notts border. He'd turned against Butterfly Conservation because of their closed down worship of the status quo cum unimaginative outlook having engaged in many a conflict with their spokespeople. He liked our films on the Dingy Skipper especially and really encouraged us and it's true to say that Martin’s persistence help change somewhat some of the so-called 'expert' eco oriented journalists who work for the MSM. in late 2020 Martin died of cancer caused by endlessly breathing in paradichlorobenzene, the toxic chemical used to show case dead butterflies in museums, and what have you. And then of all things The Guardian did a reasonably long tribute to Martin via Patrick Barnham, a tepid ‘nature’ journalist whom we also have had ‘distant’ runs-in with. Surprisingly, the article turned out to be a reasonably honest portrayal focussed around Martin's attempt to introduce the long lost Mazarine Blue on a site in Lincolnshire. Were we and other malcontents finally bringing on changes to the usually narrow, prejudiced, set in their ways, uncreative outlook of the Nature Bureaucracy??? Maybe, we shall see...
Alongside Martin White, we must also include Martin Wills and to a lesser extent individuals like Dave Bangs and David Gow. The latter two kind of ‘play’ the media and are in and out of the system but nonetheless act with conviction. Our emphasis here though has to be on those more or less anonymous individuals striving for authenticity within nature though mostly hidden from view. For sure they have yet to find their feet – though they seem to be fairly numerous - but it’s fair to say are openly despised and then some by eco officialdom.
As an aside to anonymity, there is the strange (yet not so strange) story regarding the beavers which 'mysteriously' appeared on the River Ottery in East Devon during 2013. The incident at the time caused a stir when the creatures were 'discovered' in their new home only then to be threatened with immediate eviction. Foremost among them was the Nature Bureaucracy (no surprise here) alongside other bodies who wanted rid of the beavers citing the usual complaint that these animals were "diseased" stock, etc. Where had they come from? I rapidly got wind of the theory they'd been nicked by Devon or Cornwall based eco-anarchists from a similar mysterious colony that had also appeared a few years previously in the lower Scottish Highlands. It seemed that a few comrades in possession of an old post office van got their tackle together and did a swift run up north, captured a few beavers, and did an even swifter return to the Cornish peninsula. Then we heard nothing more! That is until a few years later when casually chatting to unconventional, lively birders, (friends of the aforementioned and equally controversial figure of Martin Wills) whom we knew well on Hutchinson's Bank, near Croydon. Somehow, the subject of the beavers came up and I came out with what I'd heard regarding anarchist involvement. One of the birders laughed and placed his finger against his nose. So it was true after all as we all joined in the laughter wondering if we were also 'diseased' stock because we harboured wrong thoughts. I suggested the Nature Bureaucracy was packed with Dr Mengele's obsessed with absolute ideological health as recently Martin Wills had been accused of introducing diseased Glanville Fritillaries on Hutchinson's Bank. It was all complete bullshit as today the Glanville are flourishing here whilst experiencing a calamitous decline on their main base located on the Isle off White and adjacent mainland. Martin though on his home patch is put down by the local greenwash hierarchy as a mere volunteer, nothing but a former gardener who lives in a council house, who isn’t a proper ecological specialist with a degree in the subject, who isn’t blah, blah, blah......
And of course we were on the receiving end of the same bullshit on Wormwood Scrubs. However our position - if you like - was / is more totalizing whilst not denigrating those individuals mentioned previously and officially described as “introductionists” - known or unknown - mentioned and praised here. That's why it's important to put Stuart Wise's Scrubs film together as not only does it show footage of rare Small Blue butterflies flying around a rough sleeper’s bed but gay Muslim women kissing each other on this liberatory space of passionate encounter as a Marbled White butterfly floats by in the background. In essence the ambience of the present day Scrubs is like the old, late 1960s /early 1970s 'revolutionary' pre-gentrified Notting Hill – now decamped onto the terrain of old fashioned common land - or if you like – pointing even farther back to the revolutionary 1640s: A situation whereby nature and human beings becoming inseparable - all in a state of flux - with perhaps the beginnings of a vision which could establish heaven on earth. Perhaps therefore somewhat reminiscent of that brief but enlightened social uprising of a few centuries ago; that small interlude in a not very inspiring history of the UK.
North or South, it really doesn't make that much difference as they are coming to get you wherever you are. Sure enough it wasn't long before the proverbial ton of bricks fell on the Scrubs. Homeless, rough sleepers provided the excuse. Indeed, eco officialdom on the Scrubs wanted rid of rough sleepers so intensely that the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs together with Hammersmith & Fulham Council destroyed the arena’s richest insect site at Mitre Bridge during 2017 in half an hour. No matter that we'd put up explanatory pouches all around the site excitedly proclaiming it's rich fauna; the most important thing was the rough terrain looked unsightly to the eyes of the rich greenwashers obsessed with their posh homes. They then gladly handed it over to the developers who with backhoe loaders ever at the ready turned Mitre Bridge into a canteen site and / or a place to store road works machinery. And while they were at it the posh nosh then got rid of that ungainly obsolete term "the commons" so reiminiscent of poverty, filth and plebs who cannot speak correct English and moreover, have no idea how wonderful our public schools are. Worse was to follow as from now on this wild arena was decreed to have a proper title, that of "Wormwood Scrubs Park" a wording full of promise for the asset rich..... I remember that awful day when Mitre Bridge was destroyed getting a tearful, broken hearted phone call from Stuart, He was in tears! For Feks sake ...... words fail me..........
Above: Mitre Bridge before destruction
Below: Mitre Bridge. Canteen and toilet combined
Finally, the following letters /emails sent to Lewis Parker of VOID magazine have been included as an explanation of what we'd been upto in the previous few years and - worst of all - the catastrophic reaction to our experiments which undoubtedly played the major part in Stuart's breakdown.
Hi Lewis, 19/11/2017
Truth to tell also I would be utterly delighted if you could print that eco text we did, BIG Garbage BIG Artwash / BIG Greenwash = BIGGER ECO-DESTRUCTION along with that flyer I sent, Destruction by Aesthetics morphs into Sustainable Ecocide, on the ‘new’ Scrubs Academy après Grenfell. The latterly is controversial but the stand-in academy is a disaster in more ways the one, not only regarding ecological destruction but the fast road running by the new prefab school complex has been responsible for producing a string of minor pupil accidents as skool kids dash across the road. What happens when there’s a major incident; a death perhaps? It was the cheapest option – a dumping on the poor - and that’s what the richest council in Britain always goes for when dealing with the public realm. (Actually, I felt nervous about putting it up on The Revolt Against Plenty web as very worried about the reaction especially as we were doing things on The Scrubs, tho’ more about THAT later). One good thing about the Artwash/ Greenwash text is that a number of people throughout the world have got in contact with us saying how much they like it, individuals from the arts and sciences alike.
Moreover, over the last 20 years or so we’ve found it impossible to get coverage (publicity?) for any of our eco interventions even though they’ve caused quite an underground stir. The ‘butterfly’ films (more Fourier’s free-floating Butterfly Principal than strictly species oriented) are nonetheless anchored around massive eco destruction of flora and fauna encouraged by Big Green Organisations besotted with the developmental agenda wishing to add to the stew via a bucolic aesthetic of lawned and parked, green deserts. All this happened on the northern colliery spoil heaps and our accounts were given no upfront profile and an art gallery that showed one of the films picked the least controversial film, one that was really more a Rothko–like Abstract Expressionist aesthetic eulogy on the colours of a dying Green Hairstreak butterfly. The background was however a lot darker. We knew that the films created heated arguments among some Big Green bodies (individuals here and there told us so) but subsequently everything got hushed up with nothing spilling out into the open. We rapidly became aware of totalitarianism from the most unexpected of quarters. Indeed, in no time we were referring to it as a form of Stalinism as most of the members of these bodies couldn’t be regarded as Tories or generally right wing. We were perplexed and shaken. As the word was put out that “nothing untoward had happened”, etc., a massive cover-up unfolded implying we were rather unhinged malcontents rubbishing for rubbishing sake.
Alarm bells started to ring but this was nothing in comparison as what was to happen in Bradford some 10 years later over a similar destruction of an amazing industrially derelict site. Here, thuggery and threats from Council goons plus proposed fines and possible imprisonment became the order of the day so much so that we were forced to consult with Black and Green Legal [Anarchist] Aid in Bristol who immediately came up with valuable advice: Get rid of all evidence, lie low, and disappear if necessary. It ended in us getting out of town pronto, and when returning we did so in a clandestine way, often painting up slogans at night or, engaging in hidden sabotage. More recently STAG in Sheffield have received similar treatment which at least has given us the satisfaction of been able to say we weren’t bullshitting or exaggerating and that we were not paranoid hysterics vis-à-vis Bradford. Recently, Chris Packham has become somewhat obsessed with the ecological brutalities practised by Bradford Council and has described them as “psychotic”. In a way, it could be said that Packham’s autism has meant he can’t let go of this fixation and that’s all to the good. Whatever, and no doubt he had read our Bradford, Eco-Peterloo webs on the RAP site. It certainly put welcome smiles on our faces! As a celebrity all we can say is good on yer Packo.....
Nonetheless on the day, sadder and wiser (!) we rose the following morn. And since then we’ve encountered trouble at Woolley and trouble on Wormwood Scrubs Common in London. On the latter, we were told a few months ago by a useless buffoon of a bio-diversity officer (on a 100k per year) assisted by other top bods to “stop altering the landscape” under threat of legal action to get us thrown off the Scrubs simply because we are trying to put a spanner in the works of the proposed HSR2 rail link which wants to place part of its London terminal here. We’ve taken no notice and as yet the authorities haven’t rounded us up, but don’t kid yourselves, they’ll be back! But we keep a low profile, often hiding and keeping a wary eye out for the park police, etc, although the wilded bits of the Scrubs are outside their jurisdiction but do such legalisms today mean anything? We mentioned something on this in a quick fire response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy via a tract that was published anonymously on a number of American websites (see more on this later). As for Woolley Colliery...., well we have pasted up / hung up many pouches that don’t mince matters over its glorious hilly spoil terrain going back to Roman times and all in a bid to stop the smart home / smart city legoland machine. These pouches usually get furiously torn down and Wates the Builders quite cleverly sussed out we were responsible posting an attack on us on a Vimeo film that was laughable. A narked Wates manager said their company had enriched “flora and forno” (sic) around Woolley by which, I guess he subliminally meant “horticulture and porno” in the area! Again, ever looking over our shoulders, when are they going to use their goons to try shut us down for good? And believe me if cameras and I phones aren’t there they don’t give a fuk! They’ll virtually do anything...... and sometimes even the Iphone evidence means nothing as has happened recently on the anti-fracking Fylde coast site. On the other hand there’s no point in looking for victim status as truth to tell we get a great kick out of winding the bastards up revealing at times just how weak and vulnerable they are! There’s no impregnable power citadel out there; they all can be brought crashing down, the sooner the better maybe through Malcolm X old adage “by any means necessary “ before it’s modern morphing into “buy any means necessary”.
Essentially, and generally - what we are engaged in isn’t typical conservation like that - but a form of ad hoc encouragement of what’s there implying a new relationship and ambience. In a way it is part of a legacy of practical avant-garde experience; one based on the supersession of aesthetics: involving intervention in landscapes of contempt and VOIDS. Its relationship with psychogeography and more particularly Jaime Semprun and the Encyclopédie des Nuisances is obvious. (For a short while Semprun was an ardent friend of Debord until the almost inevitable schism). Pointedly Semprun once said that the last avante-gardes in history “would be the most persecuted” because no artefact would be involved leading to commoditisation via, metaphorically speaking, the pop music of sales figures. How true that remains. In a way the rebellion of the best of modern art in the 20th century pre-figured this moment. I’m forever re-reading Raoul Vaneigem’s Freewheeling History of Surrealism as it is so lucidly inspiring and enlightening. Notably, he says of André Breton that he was “an anti-aesthetic aesthete”. How true yet at the same time never forgetting Breton’s memorable comment, “In the bad taste of my epoch I wish to go further than any other.” Alas André stopped short regarding his own great insights. But what happens when you take practical steps beyond these insights? And that’s a terrain we’ve stumbled on as fairly lone intrepid explorers and helping-hand creators working outside the brief of dumb fuk councils and generally greenwash organisations wishing there were thousands more individuals like us taking autonomous action!
On a final note: One of the reasons we did those two public films discussing King Mob and the situationists in general was to try and create the bridge head to eco interventions because the connections between them are all of a continuity I.e. permanent disruption underlined by a common denominator we took from early student years as sculptors via the need to re-make essential elements of everyday life – a kind of off-the-wall housing interweaving with assisted autonomous nature.
But then there’s an added complication: The UK remains retarded in comparison with France not only on the eco front but on so many other levels, despite the fact that the world in general is going through a possible end time where “universal darkness buries all” as Milton concluded even in the mid 17th century. On the simplest level we in these islands have nothing to compare with the contemporary Zadista experience whose participants so readily quote Debord and Semprum. But that ambience in France has been slowly building up for nigh on 200 years where the anti aesthetic goes back to the time of Baudelaire and the flâneurs through to Symbolism, Dada, Surrealism and ever onwards..... Our subversive history was lobotomised cut short by a truly grotesque era of Empire and Victoriana with no London Commune – unlike Paris - to provide an ever inspiring, thoroughly concrete example.
It’s also an ambience that seems to percolate down over not only in the higgledy-piggedly character of French suburbs but on the terrain of nature albeit a brutally humanly altered nature involving much wage slave suffering. Thus the steep-sided pyramid-like Terrils spoil heaps of northern and eastern France which have been fairly recently preserved allow a wayward nature to find its own means of retaking these stunning features. In UK plc the only place this has been granted status as a real life happening is on the Scottish Bings. The best thing artist John Latham ever did (far better than his Fluxus-like auto-destructive book-burning art commodities) was his campaign to save the Bings. And what have we got in our post-modernist pastiche promo of Olde Englande? Almost nothing! No Facteur Cheval here! Instead landscapes of contempt are ruthlessly hunted down within the broader perspective of an unprecedented total financialisation of all land; a seemingly permanent bubble that never bursts set within the greater framework of the on-going collapse of the mechanisms of capital accumulation. A transcending alternative perspective must include recognition of the collapse of value extending to the supercession of the monetary economy, the veritable basis of a fulfilled free life for everybody hopefully then bursting forth in myriad creative forms.
Why else are we forced into the only true wilderness we possess that of the abandoned lot inseparable from large-scale industrial dereliction pregnant with possibility; one so hunted down by a state aesthetic of town and country planning laws basically emanating from the great reforming Labour government of the mid 1940s to 1951. No matter how eroded over 70 years later it nonetheless still takes out all personal and social environmental creativity inseparable from an often rich bio-diversity – that kind of unity whereby the anti aesthetic existence collides with an intense understanding of the natural sciences interweaving in complex and endless hidden improvisation; truly, a Lautréamont excess of chance encounter “as beautiful as”.....etc, etc. In place of such glorious possibility we have instead dead nature reserves with aesthetically posed trees increasingly absent of human existence especially rebel human existence set cheek by jowl alongside an even more sterile human habitation of the proposed full-on smart home and smart town. All this is far, very far removed from the rich example of the 1930s plotlanders that Clem Attlee and Co was prepared to destroy in search of an ever more egalitarian capitalism involving much banal new build rightly critiqued by the early psychogeographers though largely from afar. And despite Jeremy Corbyn and Co venerating this past in practise they probably will reinvent forms of neo-liberalism that are rather more palatable to an increasingly freaked out population rather than faithfully repeating a momento mori? So perhaps somewhat hesitantly I include here a quick comment I knocked out just after Grenfell ‘s murderous inferno dealing somewhat with Momentum which was published anonymously on a few American webs: On the Grenfell Towers Fire | Insurgent Notes .....
To tell the truth Lewis I’d be delighted if you published these things – even this accompanying letter if you want to. I realise all this possibly is not your immediate cup of tea though what we are engaged on amounts to stopping (if repeated in creative ways on a mass level) the most horrific disaster in history – climate collapse - implying the end of humanity. The prospect fills me with despair if I let it as terrible thoughts seize my imagination alongside suicidal/murderous inclinations reminiscent of the now sadly unfashionable Sigmund Freud’s comment; “Suicide is murderous impulses turned in over” although finally such tendencies are with difficulty capped by the greater truths of the Situationists and to a lesser extent, the Surrealists, “Suicide or Revolution” a profound statement more relevant – though unfashionable - than ever as the dominant spectacle endlessly spiels out total disintegration and black despair on every level.
All the Best,
Dave (with big contributions from Stu’s notes)
Above and below:Post industrial territory we seeded with an enormous amount of kidney vetch and birds foot trefoil (pedunculatus) foodplants for the Small Blue and Dingy Skipper butterflies
Above: The remarkable shambolic, post industrial landscape of Woolley Colliery where amazing natural wonders abound
Hi Lewis, (April 14th 2018)
Sorry I haven’t been in contact recently but all hell has broken loose on Woolley Colliery spoil heap near Barnsley, South Yorks and me – and Stu’ – have been immediately stuck into a real fight to save that great inspiring terrain. It has meant engaging with many ploys relating to The Art of War –decoys, subterfuge, hit and run tactics – you name it. Actually, it has been approaching the brink for a year or so. And then: WHAM!
It seems like Barnsley Council is determined to develop this magnificent “landscape of contempt” at all costs seeing (or rather, as they see it) as just a post-industrial eyesore that needs eliminating to be replaced with some nicey, nicey park and garden ornamentation adorned by domesticated, lifeless horticulture and the kind of stuff the new, aspirant highly mortgaged tenants of Woolley Grange regard as nature. Ugh! At all costs the great wildlife that has superbly come to the fore here after the pit closed has to be put to the sword. Good riddance to it and to all the misfit ‘wild’ human beings who also find themselves at ‘home’ here forever walking through this topsy-turvy odd void pregnant with amazing possibilities..…
And then you meet them and the encounters are nearly always memorable. Often the conversation starts with: “Are you for or against Arthur?” meaning which side were you on in the great miners’ strike of 1984-5-and not really about Arthur Scargill at all - and this as often as not coming from fellas’ in their late 20s who weren’t even born then! Occasionally and it’s even a great gal aged from 17 or 70! It’s an immediate but certain way of broadly testing the waters, never forgetting that Woolley was where Scargill worked as a young lad. Replying immediately “Arthur, of course” and then warm smiles break out all round followed by an immediate cut to the subversive chase as the whole fuckin’ system is attacked. Exhilarating stuff! Also, it mustn’t be forgotten that part of the bottom end of the new estate of Woolley Grange was built on the very spot where the somewhat monumental Stalinoid structure of Woolley’s pit winding gear once stood. But if Stalinoid architecture wasn’t bad enough, this estate is probably the most horrific piece of new, turn of the millennia, anti-life urbanism it is possible to find anywhere as you literally hardly ever pass a living person on these deadly, manicured pavements with only 4 by 4’s “stink wagons” (as Wobbly Joe Hill even way back in 1912 rightly called them) endlessly staring back at you. This new estate was deliberately built here – its epicentre if you like - so that all ex-miners could finally be punched in the face once and for all: shit on yer strike forever and ever…. Here is the new, eternal age of the transcendental, neo-liberal agenda……… Like it or top yourself!!! Needless to say, this estate stands in sharp contrast to the vibrant, very human, very welcoming, mining community that stood here originally - and the old row or so of red brick cottages that remain - are a mere remnant of what was killed off.
However there’s more to the story. The FOR SALE new estate of Woolley Grange (the name itself stylistically imitating the aristocratic forbears of this region) was built in maximum haste from the mid 1990s onwards. It seems no substantial, scientifically based ground survey was carried out which was – and is – essential considering the substrata is cavernous spoil hastily thrown over underground streams at the beginning of the industrial revolution that flow into the River Dearne the other side of the Sheffield/Leeds railway. (At the time it was being built I thought ‘Whoa! This could be a disaster not too dissimilar in the making to Aberfan in Wales on the 21st of October 1966 when saturated spoil engulfed a school resulting in the deaths of 144 children). And sure enough, an increasingly saturated spoil – enhanced by climate change stimulating increasing precipitation – is again on the move producing cracks in load-bearing walls, etc. Inevitably the new tenants are beginning to feel they’ve been conned regarding their purchases and sold a pup. In consequences the council is now trying to placate these new aspirants through classic divide and rule tactics – and we maybe pawns in their new power games. That said, some of the new tenants also welcome us with something like open arms as they fear further building on this estate could destroy their outlook over the Derbyshire Dales in the distance.
But that’s as far as it goes and these aspirants still remain trapped within a tunnel vision that has nothing of the breadth of the old mining communities. For certain it’s difficult to flow with the ‘new’ invaders like we could with the oldies where there’s no need to hide much in one memorable conversation after another.
Nothing though could be farther from the truth with the powers-that-be here and in other areas we make interventions. To these arseholes we have nothing to say and we keep permanently away from the suits never revealing ourselves by name. Moreover we have a bad, bad reputation in northern England and in many respects virtually barred from Bradford and Newcastle so it’s become truly a contemporary Tale of Two Cities). After a horrendous experience in Bradford 2013-4 where if we’d been nailed down we’d have been fined colossal sums – if not jailed – we quickly learnt how to disappear and re-appear only to vanish overnight again.
As for support in Bradford in what is regarded as something of a rarefied revolt well it was virtually zilch so for the future it was essential the bastards can’t / don’t catch us. We quickly learnt we were at war with dumb-fuk official ecodom and an ever-extending nature bureaucracy getting ever more important and impotent at one and the same time; a nature bureaucracy which is mind blowing stupid, utterly passive and always supporting the developmental agenda. Inevitably, because we alter the landscape, thugs in the pay of builders like Wates or through goons employed by council bureaucrats, come after us. Alongside this, machinery is despatched to our favoured areas to do a bit of discreet damage - something like, a kind of symbolic advanced warning from some boss gangster of what they’ll do to us if we persist. And persist we do…….and then some.
Moreover Lewis we’ve introduced into these areas rare wild creatures/ plants, etc, after carefully preparing the terrain – which can take a year or two - so they can successfully survive and flourish here. This really fucks-in the developers/ council goon’s heads in because they are species often quite heavily protected by European laws. It means the aforementioned bastards are then in a complete quandary knowing they are going to lose millions of spondoolies yet they can’t prove a fekking thing! (PLEASE LEWIS DON’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS TO ANYBODY).
In a way our model/inspiration –call it what you will – has become the French ZADs (Zones A Defendre) though in a very different context essentially concentrating on the amazing leftovers coming about through de-industrialisation, and not like the ZADs zoning in on the preservation of more traditional wild spaces. There is though a common dominator – acting autonomously and collectively ignoring all hierarchies including those of the green organisations which always suppress creative, imaginative intervention. For 20 years we’ve been fighting against eco-destruction especially on the colliery spoil heaps and basically have gotten nowhere as the powers-that-be re-entrenched the estate agents’ lawned and parked aesthetic outlook; the faux nature that always supports that ever upward spiral of rising property prices as well as covering large areas of spoil with soil and then sold-off as farmland. In contrast to this upending, the spoil heaps in France - Les Terriles – those terrific pyramidal structures were kept intact with nature more or less left to re-colonise at will. Not so here where a monolith of craven stupidity remains intact, one that is also monumentally vicious.
Consequently in reply we’ve also gone underground (and vicious) in an attempt to hit the bastards with everything we’ve got. On top of this, we’ve also given out the impression we have something to do with Class War as that aura terrifies bureaucrats or, if you like, have morphed into an Eco Class War buttressed recently in London by the “The Sensible Garden” (named after local punk Capt. Sensible of The Damned) and specifically, an occupation of an abandoned council tip in South Norwood, part and parcel of that comically subversive team, “The South Norwood Tourist Board”! Certainly we’re pally with Class War and indeed have had an effect on their recent eco inclinations though we have yet to let Ian Bone and co know about our opportunist co-optation and hope he won’t mind; In fact hope he will be pleased! Certainly Class War are getting into the French ZADs particularly the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes so, it seems maybe we are all starting to go in the right direction towards an integration of sublimely outlandish montaged buildings alongside sheer communality pointing towards the end of money plus a re-invigorated, re-situated nature. Although insurgents in France can realise some of this, we have nothing like such a totality in these islands beset by planning laws along with local state edicts preventing even the beginnings of any creative intervention. Any move towards autonomy must be immediately stymied at all costs and all (greenwash) organisations are to the fore in backing this trajectory. As for new, introduced species, why – according to their twisted logic - they are possibly full of pathogens and must be eliminated in order to save nature! Killing is what really matters…In short they are something of an update on the “kapos” who exerted a similar influence within the Nazi concentration camps. And finally once liquidation has taken place never forget that crowning OMERTA we experience here meaning destruction never happened in the first instance.
We also make a game out of pretending we’ve created forces that are much bigger than they are, forces moreover who are with us all the way and willing to use aggressive tactics if necessary. So we call the council officials, the developers, the official ecos, - CUNTS – as that really upsets them as well as putting the backs up of the nicey, nicey PC brigade.
Under aliases, posts are put up on Sheffield’s STAG Facebook, etc posts that are also well informed and accurate and STAG have put –and are still putting up – a great fight in that city. And dare Barnsley Council go down the same road as nearby Sheffield Council which has massively lost all the reputational insurance it once had?
So Lewis we’ve made these films whose URLs I’m putting at the end of this email. The first posted on YouTube over a year ago is provocative, even crude and definitely up for it, the second, a more lyrical cum scientific statement was posted on April Ist this year (Ah, the fools day –and on purpose) edited and produced by Lola Bueno and in fact inspired by a woman anarcho-surrealist friend of Stu’s in Madrid who, among other terrific things, sends him photos of women and men crying. And the music? Why an inheritance from the Dada / Surrealist avant-garde (maybe Durrealist in the sense of Durrutti, the amazing Spanish anarchist from 1936) with a lift from Un Chien Andalou by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali and one of the finest films ever made and which knocked me out In Newcastle in 1962. Introducing culture here or more precisely putting culture hopefully into deadly play we are messing with the bureaucrats’ heads as they don’t know how to deal with such things because so fekking dumb. We deliberately put up laminated pouches across the Woolley site with various explanations (as you know) in ‘foreign’ languages from Irish Gaelic to Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Arabic, etc., to sow confusion saying things like “Art is Dead” and that Ecocide is welcome here, as well as calling the powers-that-be, cunts and arseholes. And how do they respond? Well, we reckon on the one hand they are scared of appearing as philistines, on the other hand they dimly recognise a big connection between avant-garde culture and finance capital e.g. how say, Manchester’s burgeoning dollario hipster reputation – its selling image – comes from a recuperated psychogeography via Ivan Chtcheglov and the Hacienda club of ‘Madchester’s’ Summer of Love in the late 1980s. And wouldn’t Sheffield and its Barnsley subsidiary like something of this hipster patina! But where would this essential ‘homegrown’ ingredient come from: a combination of the Cockers, Joe and Jarvis perhaps? A mixture of steel workers’ blues and the Common People going somewhat haywire, clued-in & mad, or could they recuperate something via a blending of autonomous eco-subversion via a hazy amalgam of STAG and our activities, etc?
Although we made some longish films on the destruction of the Dingy Skipper butterfly –along with other species – on the spoil heap makeovers as far back as 20 years ago what then followed through –on their side – was a good dose of the aforementioned law of OMERTA which utterly silenced these films. From then on we knew something more outlandish and aggressive had to be attempted. Yet at the same time these two previously mentioned short films are deliberately amateurish – something done in haste – and maybe knocked out quickly by ex-miners hence the deliberate juxtaposition of the greatest insurrectional folk song from these islands, The Dirty Black Leg Miner…. And after all our family on our Mum’s side did come from a radical mining background and which had a huge influence on us……but more about that later……
Yes we have to get all this out in the open in its unadorned truth because it probably will have a great impact ……but today is not YET the day…..Best. Dave and Stu’