I’m no academic or theorist, I came to anarchism through anarcho punk in the 80s and from a young age having a mind that questioned everything. I devoured the writings on every black and white pay no more than record sleeve and every fanzine, through those I read Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, papers like Black Flag and Class War, newsheets like Schnews. I hung out in squatted cafes and anarchist centres, soaking up every bit if information I could.
That young questioning mind was only three years old when it was told by an older sibling that the ’food’ on my plate had been a pig, every meal after that I would point and ask ‘is that an animal’?. If the answer was ‘yes’, I wouldn’t eat it. That’s the point I became a vegetarian and stayed that way until hearing Conflict and Flux of Pink Indians and from then on I became vegan.
I left school in ‘82, the day before my 16th birthday, all my friends went on to college but I wasn’t interested, all I knew was I wanted to be free of the constraints of being told how to look, how to behave, what to think. I got a job in Tescos which of course I hated, but I had a bit of money and one of the people I met there leant me a crass album and another friend from there and I broke into the local slaughterhouse one night, I wouldn’t go in, but what she saw there stopped her from eating meat too. The slaughter trucks would drive up the high street, the pigs would be silent at one end of the road but when they got closer they started to scream and the stench was nauseating.
I quit the shitty Tesco job and started working at a record shop, the manager was an older guy, very sweet, knew loads about all types of music, when he retired ‘N’ took over as manager, he was a bit of a hippy type and sold drugs from the back door, he listened to way too much Van Morrison for my liking but we got on well. The business was owned by a guy who set up a photographic studio upstairs and took ‘glamour’ shots of young women who wanted to be models, he was a nasty letch and I didn’t feel at all bad when I frequently supplemented my pay packet by filling the boot of my little white mini with freebie punk albums.
Through the shop I started to meet loads of other punks and misfits, most of whom were quite a bit older than me, they took me to gigs, offered me drugs, which I never accepted, to this day I have never touched drugs, what I saw then was enough to put me off for life, though that is in no way a criticism of those who choose to partake.
I eventually left home and moved to a coastal town, kipping for a few weeks on the floor of my friends parents holiday flat that she’d snuck me a key for, before finding more permanent accommodation. It was a pretty exciting time, I had come out just before leaving and was beginning to meet other queer folk, I was playing in a band and having a blast on one of Thatcher’s youth training schemes, we did absolutely no work, messed about all day long then headed straight to the pub after cashing in our free government money on a Friday lunchtime!
The singer and guitarist in the band were both hunt sabs, so I started going out with them too, went to meetings of the local animal rights group and met a bunch of other activists and never looked back.
After a couple of years there, London was calling, I rented a room in a shared house through Time Out without even viewing it or knowing the other tennants, chucked all my stuff in a van and buggered off to the big smoke. I got a job! The first proper one I’d had since the record shop, it was through that job that I met some of the local squatters, one of them made me a cuppa one morning and we sat on the step chatting for ages when I should have been working, she invited me to a party and introduced me to the queer scene, we were spoilt for gay pubs there, I don’t think any of them exist any more.
I still work for the same company, nearly thirty years later, can an anarchist work? Yes, I think so. I chose the work I do as the one that would give me the most freedom for unskilled labour, when the clock says their ownership of me is up then I down tools regardless of whether the work is done or not, I do care about what I do as it is a ‘public service’ job, you become a part of a community and to some you may be the only person they speak to all day.
I left London after 12 years, the story after that is a lot less interesting but I’m still an angry, opinionated activist hence this blog thingie cos there’s stuff that both anarchists and vegans need to hear and learn about each other and if my ramblings can help to fuse the two then that’s gotta be a good thing.