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Greenham Common
Annabel Nicolson on her experience of the women's anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common. Published in Performance magazine, 1982

'at the camp we have had a vision of thousands and thousands of women coming together around Greenham Common'

the beauty of this vision was that each woman who came was needed as part of the making of the circle

'embrace the base'
a concept which could only have come from women's experience

embrace - to take in the arms: to press to the bosom with affection: to take eagerly or willingly: to comprise: to admit, adopt or receive - to join in an embrace

'embrace the base'
creating a supporting structure of and from ourselves within which our feelings could be expressed creating a network around the base acknowledging our fear our common cause for fear releasing it releasing each other

'embrace the base'
joining in an embrace around the base embracing sta physical form of expression bringing people closer together

women who have not taken part in such actions before wanted to come to this one women who friends knew particularly older women who had not had contact with movements of this kind or been in- volved with such activities wanted to come

my mother could have come she would have been quite safe the circling of the base was in itself a circling of women protecting each other holding hands holding on

the same purpose
the same committment reaching round and round

each woman was asked to bring something to attach to the fence something personal anything related to real life as opposed to the unreal world the military base represents

shying away avoiding thinking about fear of contact with something so alien not wanting to place myself or anything close to me anywhere near the site of such

'contamination' another woman called it fear of being contaminated

but being there seeing it all an expressive living reminder of why we were there our lives seen together most vulnerable most moving women coming to the fence found themselves already there

something so alien seen for what it was

made to bear our meanings
made to bear witness

'As women we have remained silenced for too long, silenced by the argument of defence - the balance has been tipped and at last we see the ultimate insult to our intelligence: nuclear weapons
Women are no longer giving their silent consent to wars'


Forming a circle was about continuity
seeing continuity in our lives 'we suspect the circle will take on its own energy and form' women taking each others' placca at the fence watching over each others' lives
keeping watch
towards dusk making our way towards

the gates groups of women forming round each other singing darkness

light from candles making same spiral as women dancing women with candles circling round spiralling forming a spiral more and more women spiralling round

we say no

we say no

fires being lit darkness tents being pitched women singing small groups round fires
attending to
making shelters

so many of us so close so completely resisting
since early morning outside the gates in the road
living out what we deal with everyday

our rawness in this world
what we know we see before us
rescuing each other with 'the whole world is watching' is this the only thing that stops them

how many times for how many women
no one is watching

so close so completely resisting
since early morning

women are singing

You can't kill the spirit
she is like a mountain
old and strong
she goes on and on

You can't kill the spirit
she is like a mountain
old and strong
she goes on and on

Annabel Nicolson
Performance magazine
Annabel Nicolson's article on Greenham Common in performance magazine
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