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Lay for the Day
5th September

2000: after 19 years of occupation – to the day – the last three members of the Greenham Women’s Peace Camp take their leave.
On 25th August 1981 a band of protesters called Women for Life on Earth set out from Cardiff and marched for 10 days to Berkshire to demonstrate against the deployment of nuclear-armed Cruise missiles at the Greenham Common airbase. The peace camp was established outside the gates in the following week.
On 12th December1982, tens of thousands of women (the estimates range from 20,000 to 50,000) joined hands around the perimeter fence in the Embrace the Base demonstration.
The first Cruise missiles arrived at Greenham in November 1983; the last of them were removed in March 1991, and in 1992 the base was declared redundant for military purposes. A few protesters remained to support the campaign to have the area restored as common land, which it now is. In October 2002 a garden surrounded by a circle of Welsh stones was opened there as a memorial to the Peace Camp.

 

The Base [Hear it here]


Did you ever go down to the base?
That was one wonderful place,
Tied up with wire and bursting with fire,
But it was only just there in case.

They cried out the chances are slimming
And there’s nobody here but us women
To stop them from striking a match
And starting the ending from scratch
And the eyes and the coaches came brimming.

Jane, Jewel, Jacqueline,
Judith and Julie, Janine,
Joy, Jenny, Juliet,
Jasmine and Janis, Georgette,
Jade and Joanna joined.

The police always acting like gents
Hauled them down off the fence,
Maybe broke a few arms but they meant no harm,
They were just trying to make you see sense.

When sons are turned against mothers
And daughters have turned against brothers,
It’s a funny old war you’ll admit,
In fact it stinks of money
Just like all of the others.

There’ll always be a Greenham
The old boys decided between ’em
So we’ll wipe off their tears and smiles
And bollocks to their womenly wiles.
They’re spoiling our view of the missiles.

Did you ever go down to the base
Where they stood off the beast face to face?
They got cursed, they got kicked, they got treated like shit
In the dirty old name of peace.

Oh yes they were right on the case,
On their marks for the human race.
They got kicked and cursed,
They surely got treated like dirt,
And they won in the name of peace.

 

Words and music by The Children
from Equals
 

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar