Sunday, April 28, 2013

Twyford Down remembered

I began filming and protesting 20 years ago, in 1993 after seeing the destruction caused by the M3 motorway through Twyford Down near Winchester. Today I read a very well written story here about the road protest...

April 1992
The flags are flying again. Green, red and black.

“We’re human in scale. We oppose the tyranny of the motorcar,” pronounces the speaker. He’s clearly rehearsed, slightly shaky of voice, a hint of RP. Someone asks about the name.

“The name is…thanks for asking by the way…the name is, um, actually a Matabele term coined by Professors at the Winchester College, to help describe the medieval track ways that criss-cross all over the Downs.”

Greasy haired, he’s wearing a faded black T-shirt bearing an image of the Uffington Horse.

“The Tories are talking of the biggest road-building project since Roman times. The Romans, well, they were invaders, conquerors by might, too.”

I nod over-enthusiastically in agreement before I fully digest what he’s just said. I’m wary of this talk of invaders and natives. The Dongas describe themselves as British indigenes. It seems a useful fiction. I’m not sure the dividing line can be drawn so easily. I’ve been here a day. We’re up on St. Catherine’s Hill, at a sort of informal induction day – how I imagine the first session of a creative writing workshop or an AA meeting to be. Say your name, introduce yourself with flushed cheeks, make fleeting eye contact with the others before looking at your shoes, check out who the hot lads are. I oppose the motorway, yes, but I’m also here to do something different. Expand my horizons. Find myself. Do something.

The arguments I’ve seen playing out on the five o’ clock news, on ITN, Channel 4, the Beeb, the ones that led to me coming out here, they say the bypass is the last missing link in the M3 between Southampton and London. Evolution. We need it. I never understand where all the traffic is going. Mum didn’t even have a car until I was ten years old. I myself can drive, largely taught by dad, but I do not own a car.

Sofia grins shiftily at me as a prelude to her introduction. We’ve known each other since we were toddlers, both our single mums close friends, nattering as we played on our small patch of grass in Kent, yelling our lungs out, making daisy chins, falling over. Dad would visit every weekend, more or less.

Read more here

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