Tag Archives: anarchism

Becky Fury celebrates the joys of an anarchist festival – but not vegans

Becky Fury – real name – has something to say

I received what follows from Becky Fury yesterday.

She is not to be confused with Becky Sharp, the heroine of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair.

Becky Fury won a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award in 2016.

Becky Sharp did not.

Becky Fury’s Award was well-deserved.


I have just got off the plane after being at a festival in Holland. I was performing my show Political at the Dutch anarchist utopia ADM. I need a proper sleep. In my own bed and not in a makeshift hostel in the middle of a 24 hour festival.

The poster for Becky Fury’s Political show

The anarchist festival at ADM platforms international anarchist artists working in any alternative medium – for example, vegan junk food boutiques raising money for anarchist solidarity causes.

My favourite and most edgy this year was the seitan (wheat gluten) wrap stand that was raising money for the solidarity campaign to support some anarchist bank robbers.

Tag line: Better rob a bank than be a thief that owns one. 

There were a number of other insurrectionary installations and tongue-in-pierced-cheek institutions… 

Punk hairdressers God Shave The Queen.

A fetish wear salon where the primary material for the kinky creations was recycled bike inner tubes. It was called Eco Slut. (Not to be confused with, but can be used in conjunction with, The Ethical Slut, an old anarchist handbook about the now super-trending polyamory.)

Even a robot had an axe to grind

A circus without a traditional ring person but with the tag line: No Gods, No (Ring)masters.

Also more standard festival fare bands, poets and one political comic performance artist. Me. 

This was the 21st and possibly last year of the ADM festival and alternative arts showcase.

The ADM is an amazing autonomous artspace near Amsterdam which hosts several sub cultural festivals a year – or did for the past 21 years. 

The location is unfortunately now a prime dockside development area and ADM is threatened with eviction this year. On Christmas Day. 

One may wonder who would do such a cuntish act. 

My explanation is Scrooge Industries (or Industrie de Scroogen in Dutch ). One can only hope that Meester or Mrs Scroogen receives a visitation from the Ghost of Festivals Past who gives them a fat spliff of Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup winning finest and they chill out and reconsider and join the party 

Unlikely supernatural intervention aside, there is a petition on the ADM website you can sign, if that’s your sort of thing. It is against the closure of the space. Not for it. Though there is probably a petition for that elsewhere.

The sub-header for the pro ADM petition is:

Without Subculture, There is No Culture

The ADM Petition: Without sub-culture, there is no culture

Artists need space to develop interesting work without economic restriction even if its only function is to provide creative detritus to fuel the industries of mainstream culture. 

As an example of this, I offer the 5 Euro For a 10 Inch Vegan Pizza stall at the festival. 

Veganism and moaning about vegans has been a staple of the punk movement and squat culture for years – only recently commodified and adopted by the mainstream as part of woke capitalism and priced accordingly. 

The over-priced products are voided of their revolutionary potential as they are way out of the reach of the proletariat and the vegan vanguard that lived in my squat and threw my milk in the bin after scrawling COW RAPE all over the fridge in permanent marker. 

Vegans have always been known with the prefix ‘fucking’ – but I always had more affection for the ‘fucking vegans’ when their virtue signalling went beyond taking photos of their over-priced and under-seasoned lunch on Instagram. Back in the days when Insta-gram meant having your drug dealer on speed dial and the only virtue signalling done was by the Land Rover used for hunt sabotaging and transporting the vegan burger stand to festivals to fund all this ethically sourced nonsense. 

Sorry not sorry if that offends any fucking vegans. 

If you choose to take offence, that is your choice. This is not the Oscars. Save me your acceptance speech. 

I digress. 

To err in a blog is human; to digress is divine

But this is John’s blog, so that is traditional and part of the idiosyncratic construct of the oeuvre.   

My point is that, without free space, we end with no culture or a battery culture. Without nurturing and protecting artists, we end up with the artistic equivalent of battery hens laying mass-produced low-grade products for market. 

One would hope there would be a revolution in the hen house – or should that be a coup?

One would hope the fashion for things organic and free range would extend to people but one imagines that there is a lack of imagination that will mean this is not the case.

It betrays a lack of joined-up thinking – but nowadays everyone writes on keyboards.

Anyway, I should have written this article before I left the sanctity of the artists’ utopia in Amsterdam.

I have performed at five arts festivals this year and that was by far the finest. 

I have included some pictures for you to enjoy. You have seen them here first before they end up in adverts and their creators end up in the gutter. 

Viva the revoloucion! 

No Pasaran!

And come see my show Political when it’s next in your town or the one you’re squatting in the way that creative industry professionals do when they take over a town for their creative industrial professional ends.

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The Angry Brigade was mildly irritating

The Bush Theatre stage production

The Bush Theatre stage production today

At the end of April, I blogged about The Angry Brigade play opening at London’s Bush Theatre and quoted my friend Sam Taylor (not his real name) who was around at the time.

This afternoon, I went to see the play with Sam.

I was more concerned with the style; Sam with the content.

The play was two-and-a-half hours long including a 20-minute interval in the middle and the first half, at least, could/should have been cut by a third. Words were being written and spouted simply for the sake of writing and spouting words, not developing a plot.

The first half seemed like some stylised semi-farce or something out of a 1970s sitcom with comic police and added serious bits and the second half seemed to be trying to be poetic and arty and cutting-edge.

“I just don’t know,” I told Sam, “why the story of The Angry Brigade has gone off the radar and disappeared from memories of British social history. I mean, you say it’s cos they were so dull, but…”

“Yes,” said Sam.

“You were in two minds about seeing the play,” I said.

“I just didn’t have a clue,” explained Sam, “what they could possibly do with the four of them because, as far as I know, they’ve never given out their story and no-one knows, so I just didn’t see how you could make a play out of these four very dull people. They just were not very charismatic people.”

At the time of the eventual trial verdict...

Four of the eight charged were sentenced…

“The real people?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Sam. “And they were so young.”

“Immediately post-university,” I said.

“Yes,” said Sam. “I was afraid of what the play might do with the story – try and make it politically justified. That all their wild ramblings would be rationalised.”

“I thought,” I said, “that the play gave vent to their wild ramblings in the second half in a reasonably fair way.”

“But the astonishing 168 or was it 186 attacks in one year?” said Sam. “That is quite astounding. At what point did the papers first print the story?”

“I have to say I didn’t know there had been an embargo on it,” I said. “I guess there must have been a ‘D’ Notice on it.”

“Yes,” said Sam.

“And, in the play,” I said, “the police seemed to be baffled why they bombed the Post Office Tower.”

“They were just kids,” replied Sam. “They were just… Biba, the Post Office Tower. How can you rationalise that?…”

Photo (left) of bombing at the Employment Secretary’s home

Photo (left) of bombing at the Employment Secretary’s home

“Well,” I said. “The Post Office Tower is fair enough. It was a defence installation. Presumably is. Nothing to do with the Post Office. But I just thought the whole play was superficial. There is so much material in that story, there has to be a good play – or film – in there somewhere. But this wasn’t it.”

“You have to have charismatic characters,” said Sam, “a premise and some genuine political beliefs instead of playing at anarchism.”

“They vaguely,” I said, “tried to have some depth in the second half, but it just degenerated into running around, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. A lot of the budget must have gone in buying the music rights.”

“It wasn’t any music I ever listened to,” said Sam. “The strange thing is that, in that circle, I don’t remember anyone ever playing music. At university you did; you used to go to each other’s rooms but, in that circle, with so many people coming and going in all the squats and in these communes – we weren’t in squats, we were communes – I don’t remember anyone ever sitting quietly listening to music.”

“Also,” I said, “the play was only about four people and the police in the play only seemed to be pursuing four people. Maybe it was concentrated for artistic reasons.”

Poster supporting The Angry Brigade

Poster supporting The Angry Brigade

The Angry Brigade trial was called, at the time, the trial of The Stoke Newington Eight.

“I knew nothing about the trial,” said Sam, “except everyone knew that they were guilty, though not on those charges. I do remember there was fundraising for them and marches for them and the feeling – which you would appreciate – that those charges were false. They did it, but not what they were charged with… I’d have to go back and read about it in retrospect because I knew about it so little at the time.”

“And there was the other guy,” I said, “who I think everyone thought was the central one. Though the play did include a German bloke coming over with guns. And they mentioned Paris.”

“Yes,” said Sam. “They were clearly getting their supplies from Paris.”

“I was,” I said, “amazed they only got ten year sentences. You would think, just for setting off bombs at the front and back doors of the Employment Secretary’s home alone they would have got stiffer sentences.”

“Mmmm…” Sam responded.

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