Red Rag - Back Issues - 1985

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This page lists the 1985 back issues of Red Rag. Each issue is available in two forms:

  • scan - choose this to see exactly what each issue looked like, but be prepared for 20MB downloads
  • txt - just the text - choose this for a much faster download or if you want to copy the text into any other form

You can also link from here to the introduction page for each issue.


  • January 6th

(scan / txt / intro)
The Evening Post leads an unprincipled attack against local "bedsit barons" for attracting the unemployed and homeless with advertisements which they themselves are quite willing to print; food van deliveries continue to take hot meals to the women camped at Greenham Common; the Anarchist Group forges ahead with plans for a free festival to celebrate its 20th anniversary; the Ant Hill Mob play at the Paradise Club, all proceeds going to the Gwent food fund for the families of the pits in South Wales, adopted by the Reading Miners Support Group committee; and the Reading contingent at the action in London marking the fifth anniversary of the NATO decision to site cruise missiles in Europe is an affinity group of one person (about the ideal size for quick consensus decision making).

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting January 13th (scan / txt)
  • January 20th

(scan / txt / intro)
The Freedom Association, their friends in Ratepayers Against Greenham Encampments, and the Coalition for Peace through Security attempt to get the Greenham women struck off the electoral roll on the grounds that they are there for political reasons; Box Office takes on the Reading Festival Fringe and some plywood hoarding; Citizen Cain get rebranded; Red Rag takes on the politics of censorship; and the Free Festival benefit gig makes a profit of £3:20 (thanks to the £1:20 they found on the floor).

(front cover)
  • February 3rd

(scan / txt / intro)
The strike has by no means been lost, and even if the demand of No Pit Closures cannot be won, the Miners will not accept defeat, but will go on as will their supporters to fight this tide of destruction this Government has launched upon us. Most of us are stuck between the unslightly and the serene, floundering in a love like blood and can do without "Lifelines" from Nietzschean superwomen, unless it's to bring on the clowns in the twilight of idols; Veggie Dining becomes co-ordinator free and the Vegan Ramble will now have to deny that they check your sandwich box for salami sarnies; two rival teams appear to be running courses at the Centre for the Jobfree; and Acorn becomes a Workers' Co-operative, but Ian and Liz are leaving.

(front cover)
  • February 17th

(scan / txt / intro)
In between the Greenham evictions, Molesworth blockades, Citizen Cain prize for the most interesting leak, new premises needed for the Women's Centre, Reagan setting the CIA on the Sandinistas, Real Time Video's newsletter, and Red Rag's computer problems: a sobering account of current understanding of a new sexually transmitted disease, and where you can go for help locally.

AIDS is caused by a virus, called LAV, which is thought to be passed on in two ways: during sex, or if a person comes into contact with infected blood. It is also possible that the AIDS virus is passed on through saliva, but there is no reason to think that the virus can be spread through the air or by touch.

It seems that not everyone who has the virus develops the symptoms of AIDS, but that everyone who does develop the symptoms dies, sometimes quickly, sometimes after two or more years. There is no immediate prospect of a cure for AIDS itself, although doctors are becoming more expert at treating the infections and illnesses which follow the failure of the immune system.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting February 24th (scan / txt)
  • March 3rd

(scan / txt / intro)
One year into miner's strike is marked with a brace of benefit gigs and a march in London; we also note the anniversary of the Kronstadt rebellion of 1921. (March 5th: Trotsky arrives in Petrograd. Aircraft drop leaflets on Kronstadt ordering the population to surrender at once or "be shot like partridges".) The Greenham Support Group celebrates International Women's Day by organising Veggie Dining; after the government's show of muscle at last month's overnight invasion of Molesworth peace camp the Easter demo there may be even bigger; and a small cavalcade proceeds onto a snowy Salisbury Plain in search of the Cruise Missile Convoy hidden nearby (pretending to have melted into the British countryside, as Heseltine would have us believe).

We joined hands (no, not with the soldiers, who were too busy).

(front cover)
  • March 17th

(scan / txt / intro)
The old Unemployment Benefit Office in South Street is squatted for ten days and hosts a series of workshops and projects: from music to video, screenprinting to street theatre, Tai Chi to Red Rag production. The media might think that the Greenham Womens' Peace Camp has faded away, but Newbury Council have set aside £52,700 for evictions during the current financial year; one of the student halls of residence goes Nuclear Free and its president writes with great enthusiasm to Red Rag in the apparent if unfounded belief that Reading's Only Newspaper is the body that can bring this change about; and Woozy Wombat is keen about something but we don't know what.

This is where you get a reputation for oddness, sneaking around town with rucksacks of nettles or bags of rotten vegetation.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting March 23rd (scan / txt)
  • March 31st

(scan / txt / intro)
Several hundred people pass through the doors of the old dole offices in South Street during a ten day Squat, with over a hundred and fifty attending the various workshops. They produce the largest screenprint in Reading, some 30 foot long by 12 high. The miners are still on strike but you'd have to look hard to notice it; Wokingham Tory M.P. William van Straubenzee gets quite uppity when he's told that smoking can result in cancer and cancer can result in death; Ladybird proposes a new method of timekeeping; and the Women's Press launch their sci fi series.

(front cover)
  • April 14th

(scan / txt / intro)
Two of the Greenham peace-campers are attacked in the night - one of them is hospitalised - and suspicion falls on U.S. servicemen; three other women have been found guilty of criminal damage at the base and one of them now faces a month in Holloway; two members of the Red Brigade are sent down for two years each, for fucking in the dock during their 1982 trial; Liz leaves Acorn; if you didn't understand what that Nosferatu article was about neither did we; and there are calls for patience as work gets under way on the two-mile road scheme that's going to solve all our traffic problems this side of 1990. Road works are expected to last for four and a half years, which means that this concrete monstrosity will be able to handle projected traffic flow for about three months.

(front cover)
  • April 28th

(scan / txt / intro)
Following the cycles of the moon, the next Cruise convoy is predicted out on Salisbury Plain in May; a mass trespass onto the dispersal area is planned; this would be easier to arrange at the weekend, but the MOD refuses to co-operate over the timing. Fifteen new hospitals are to be built and then stand empty, waiting to receive American and N.A.T.O. personnel in the event of nuclear war; the Greenham Food Van will spend the summer supporting a re-opened Red Gate camp; fifty ways to kill the slugs in your back garden (some of them without flattening Reading in the process); and something quite disparaging about the situationists.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting May 5th (scan / txt)
  • May 12th

(scan / txt / intro)
In the first half of April over 100 women were arrested inside the airbase at USAF Greenham Common and charged with trespass. They had cut many holes in the perimeter fence, disturbed some rabbits, graffitied buildings with red paint, and made it onto the runway. Picnics are now being arranged inside the fence, not outside. Back in Reading, DHSS claimants under 26 living in Bed and Breakfasts will have to keep moving on every 4 weeks; a new, more severe Anarchist group hits the streets; someone around here's in trouble; and we consider the parental behaviour of the Mongolian Gerbil.

At the pub, just ask where the meeting is. I don't know if the landlord will like Anarchists.

(front cover)
  • May 26th

(scan / txt / intro)
Bracknell anarchists run a 24 hour squat in the old cinema and 300 people turn up to watch a film, play with paints, and enjoy a 5-band gig; the following weekend there's another gig at the same venue but with different organisers and this time the event is unashamedly money making. It'll take ten years to build a £75 million road system through Reading that will only cope with five years' worth of rush hours for the 40% of Berkshire who travel by car; we remember the fuss about the possible links between the Pill and cervical cancer; Reading Borough Council notices that advertising for playworkers in Reading's Only might result in some very undesirable characters working with Reading's children; a revolution which fails to make the reinvention of everyday life its central aim will leave us standing in paradise (or: why not to declaim at your houseplants); and Laura was unhappy about her letter not being printed in the last issue and has written a letter to complain, but we haven't printed that either.

(front cover)
  • June 9th

(scan / txt / intro)
Late on a Saturday afternoon in the centre of town three kids from Tilehurst meet an empty panel of plywood and a shopping trolley full of paint; there are plans for USAF Upper Heyford to store Binary Wave gas, whatever that is; the Tudor Arms loses its credentials; tickets for Glastonbury CND are on sale at Acorn; a loosely situationist meeting will attempt to discuss the secret life of Reading and how to influence councillors by remote control; how to get a sleeping bag from the DHSS; and the Rabbit Squad is back in town. Do not let them into your house.

I rushed over to begin snapping away with a telephoto lens on my camera. I had shots of a pregnant woman being dragged away while her husband was savaged by a dog and beaten. I had pictures of a truck attempting to leave the field while two riot vans hurtled over tents and benders to ram it to a halt. A pity I have them no more. At the first opportunity my camera was taken by a sergeant and two constables and, in my presence, the film very unceremoniously removed.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting June 16 (scan / txt)
  • June 23rd

(scan / txt / intro)
Does physically attacking rich people at the Henley Regatta count as legitimate protest against idle privilege or a stupid left-wing imitation which diverts attention way from the Government actually responsible for disadvantage? Five Greenham women on trial for criminal damage to the Aldermaston fence; what constitutes an authentically gay pub; an alternative to all those new roads and bridges; Red Rag for the hard of hearing; Emma Goldman's birthday; and Sir Keith Joseph is invited to a closed meeting at University and although the time and place are a closely guarded secret, the Vice-chancellor has threatened the Labour Club (but nobody else?) with action if there's any trouble. In other news: anyone looking for the flour bomb party should be at the Palmer Building by around 11.30am.

(front cover)
  • July 7th

(scan / txt / intro)
The Henley Regatta draws to a close and with it maybe also a debate lifted straight from the Ladybird Book of Cliche Politics; £700 has been raised for the Free Festival to celebrate 20 years of the Reading Anarchist Group; Japan intends to ignore the moratorium on whaling that seemed so certain in back in 1982; we struggle with a politically correct spelling for "boycott"; and someone's got it in for Ragwort.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting July 14th (scan / txt)
  • July 21st

(scan / txt / intro)
Post punk progressive rock might not be everyone's cup of chlorpromazine but residents at Borocourt Hospital react to local bands with seemingly limitless energy; it's Cultural Week at the Apollo Youth Club; "Wednesday is Women's Day" at RCU has proved so popular that it's continuing over the summer; there are blue clouds over Henley; a Gay / Lesbian self defence class is starting up (is self defence the same as resistance? the Rag tries not to draw a line); and Ian's leaving Acorn.

One of the older residents, named Lenny, was asked what he thought of the band, and replied "Eh?!" I repeated the question loudly and he replied - very loudly - "They're Too Noisy!"

(front cover)
  • August 4th

(scan / txt / intro)
If you leave your door unlocked when you go on holiday you'll come back to a house full of squatters, but don't you mind all those boarded-up houses in Whitley; two Greenham women go on trial, scapegoated for causing 60 pounds (and 76p) worth of damage a USAF perimeter fence; the Queen Mum is 85; we're averse to live drama; Mark hesitates; and we find out what was in Box 2001.

(front cover)
  • August 18th

(scan / txt / intro)
When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, human beings were instantly vaporized, leaving behind only their shadows. Early in the morning of August 6th 1985, people were hard at work whitewashing shadows onto Broad Street, as a memorial and as part of a project which spanned 100 towns in 17 countries. After an hour and a half (and three hundred shadows) the police showed up; they couldn't find any ringleaders; the cells had an incredible acoustic and the eleven arrested settled down to an extended vocal workshop. The two women charged with £60.76 damage to a fence at USAF Greenham Common plead guilty and are given a two years conditional discharge plus costs of £30, to be paid back at £2 a week; women in Reading now have a maximum of 6 weeks left at the Women's Centre in Old Shire Hall; and Doris is almost 20.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting August 25th (scan / txt)
  • September 1st

(scan / txt / intro)
It might indeed be four years since the first women started camping at Greenham Common; and rumours that Red Rag has been Reading's Only for six whole years are quite reliable; but it's twenty years of Anarchist organisation in Reading that catch the headlines. Happy Birthday Doris! On Nagasaki Day a group of women break into A.W.R.E. Aldermaston (not the first time this has happened) and phone the Press Association to draw attention to the connection between the two places; the Women's Centre gets a three month reprieve; Social Security is under review; and evangelicals converge on Reading Abbey in an attempt to drive out covens, sects, and occult practices.

Despite malicious and dishonest statements by the Evening Drivel, no police presence will be required. If someone does think it becomes necessary, I am sure that they will be able to use a telephone kiosk like anyone else... The Drivel may hanker after a "Smash Stonehenge" operation; that took 18 months to plan, and it will take years to repair the damage to their "good name". To attempt anything similar in a large conurbation like Reading, with only a few weeks preparation would be the height of foolhardiness. Besides, "The Authorities" are of course checking all mail going to Box 19, and they can see as clearly as anyone that the Party is not a front for some insurrectionary outbreak, but just what we have said all along, a weekend of pleasure and creativity.

(front cover)
  • September 15th

(scan / txt / intro)
Acid rain is killing our fish and forests; getting the Central Electricity Generating Board to cut sulphur emissions by 60% in line with the EEC Directive would add £1 to the average annual electricity bill. In Reading, eleven people are arrested for suspected criminal damage whilst participating in the International Shadow Project on 6th August; Greenham Common Peace Camp celebrates its fourth birthday with nine Greenham Women appearing in Reading Magistrates Court, charged with entering Burghfield Royal Ordnance Factory; Red Rag celebrates its 6th birthday with the usual debt problems only more so, never having actually sold a copy; Reading Anarchists celebrate Doris' 20th; and apparently there's to be a 3rd Thames Contraceptive.

Noise, nuisance and dirt were her three concerns. Trains thundering past, Concorde daily disrupting our lives and she was asking about any noise we might make. The Gas Board hassling gypsies out of a home, the Royal Mail failing to deliver any letters to Box 19 for two weeks, British Telecom cutting somebody's phone for the weekend, and she asks about us being a nuisance! Sitting on a neglected litter- and shit-strewn publicly-owned ex-coal dump, and she asked about us creating dirt!

(front cover)

(scan / txt / intro)
It's been suggested that the police deliberately left Lozells Road to the Handsworth rioters for several hours: quite acceptable if damage was only done to the "problem" area's own facilities and fabric; and anyway most businesses in the area were small, asian-owned, and politically expendable. The new Thames Residents and Business Association pledges to fight the proposed Third Thames Bridge; Doris's party passes off with three minor injuries dealt with by first aid and no arrests; the Ecology Party renames itself as the Green Party; a creche network is not just an easy option for the ideological credibility of those lacking plausible oppression; and for the first time ever Red Rag is out of debt.

(front cover)
  • October 13th

(scan / txt / intro)
Half way through going to press, Red Rag receives a phone call from Acorn to say that their offset litho has broken down; the show must go on but the outcome is even less legible than usual. Minister for Social Security Tony Scumbag Newton, obsessed with the hounding of Bed and Breakfast claimants, his Benefit Regulations declared illegal by Justice Mann, is now using a Specialist Claims Unit to investigate B&B claimants in Reading. They're acting on instructions to find examples of fraud by claimants - information desperately wanted by Newton so that evidence on benefit abuse can be presented in the press, paving the way to dissolving public support for those who live in the appalling conditions which many crook landlords subject people to. The latest scapegoat in the Greenham witchhunt, Katrina Howse, is given a six month prison sentence by Reading Crown Court on framed charges; it's been six lean months since the last Veggie Dining; and Reading Between The Wavy Lines, the 1985-66 edition of the most unpronouncable and indispensable guide to Reading town, has appeared amongst rain, chaos, a Will Hay film of dubious merit and free lettuces.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting October 20th (scan / txt)
  • October 27th

(scan / txt / intro)
Under the cover of producing a local guide book, members of the Red Rag collective describe the Reading Chronicle as "a preposterous compendium of estate agents' adverts and sponsored hopping events". There were 300 arrests on the NHS anti apartheid demo on 19th October; a test for antibodies to the AIDS virus is now freely available to anyone who wants it; a new women's health group is to start shortly; Reading Gay and Lesbian Helpline publishes a report to mark six years of continuous operation; Paradise could do with a cleanup; and Red Rag takes on a style correspondent.

One can hardly expect the local labour councillors to throw themselves in front of the bulldozers, because this isn't Prague 1968 and such well-respected people cannot afford to be seen to be identifying with the lumpenproletariat of the Caversham Road.

(front cover)
  • November 10th

(scan / txt / intro)
The black people of South Africa have repeatedly called for a boycott of South African goods; anti-apartheid campaigners in Reading draw attention to this by filling their supermarket trolleys with Outspan oranges and then leaving the store empty-handed. The National Front have now established a branch in Reading and NF stickers have been appearing around town - some with razor blades behind them; the van is ready for another winter of regular food runs to the women of Greenham; Veggie Dining is happening again; and whatever Box Office is doing for its anniversary party is so subversive that we can't read it, let alone write it down.

(front cover)
  • November 24th

(scan / txt / intro)
The Government's proposals on Public Order include a possible power for a police authority to claim the costs of policing a demonstration from organisers who have breached conditions imposed by the police; the last Rag carried a paid ad which included the Co-op and CRS logos and the slogan "people who care", but unfortunately the Co-op doesn't care enough to topple itself from the position of the U.K.'s largest importer of South African fruit; and seventy women march twice through Reading to Reclaim the Night: first along with the "necessary" police escort, and then after the police have gone home on a second demonstration which stops more traffic, makes more noise, and draws more attention to the marchers and their demands.

(front cover)
  • Minutes of collective meeting December 1st (scan / txt)
  • December 8th

(scan / txt / intro)
Under the heading "Living in Communes" (which shows how thoroughly anyone from the Rag read this article before printing it), there's a hand-written rant about - uhm - children's liberation. Our commune is a refuge for young people who escape from homes, psychiatric torture chambers and nazi parents... Children are not playthings for bored and lonely mothers to pamper. One of their demands: Our right to enjoy our own bodies and to choose who we mix with. No laws that punish loving sexual relationships among and with children.

The address given is Indianerkommune, Nurenberg, Germany; a cursory search nowadays links this organisation directly to a long-established "Paedophile Movement":

The Indianer Commune existed from 1976, firstly headquartered in Heidelberg, then in Nurenburg, calling itself a "children's rights initiative" and working in favour of paedophilic sex. (http://de.wikipedia.org)

Red Rag never (to my knowledge) fact-checked its stories. Doing so for this article, over the distances involved, would have been very difficult. But, whatever our individual involvements in this issue, we must acknowledge responsibility for the printing of a piece - neither challenged nor rebutted in later issues - which encouraged young, vulnerable people to put themselves in danger.

(front cover)
  • December 22nd

(scan / txt / intro)
Nothing that grabs my attention whatsoever. Occasionally this happened.

(front cover)