The Friday Blog: Richard Bircumshaw

Crivvens! Jings! And Help Ma Boab! Whit a fecken week! Congratulations to us cos we have now passed the 200,000 mark and many, many thanks to all our readers for that (apart from the child molesting fascist ones). However, this news was tempered a wee bit by the funeral on Thursday of Bolton anarchist and all round activist/troublemaker Richard Bircumshaw. Sadly, I couldn’t make the trip from Perth as my unicycle had a puncture and I was a bit tired but luckily ‘Rosa’ made it down there and this is her report.

To Our Comrade! 

A few of us met up in Manchester to say goodbye to Richard who had spent most of his life fighting fascism, injustice, and oppression, and whose activism linked up anarcho-syndicalists, Class War, Hunt Sabs, anti-fracking campaigners, Anti-Fascist Action, Poll Tax protesters, and countless other strikes and campaigns: it was a full life and a dedicated one.

Typically Richard, it was difficult getting to the funeral but the scenery was stunning: beautiful crisp snow on the Pennines and a brilliant blue sky although it was a bit like Where Eagle’s Dare with bagpipes and anarchist flags. Many of us stood around trying to work out who was who: comrades from long ago met up, a little less slim, a lot more wise and if not lacking hair, were counting  grey ones.  It was even worse finding the venue for the wake and apparently there’s a car full of vegan anarchists stranded on the hills unable to turn to cannibalism after their Bombay mix ran out.

There was time for reflection about other comrades lost along the way from illness and worse, but also to ask ourselves: am I doing all that I can? Can I do more? Because Richard’s life was about activism not theorising and he didn’t just think about politics, he lived it every day. The wake saw many old and newer comrades reunited over lots of booze and food, the room was filled with chaos and solidarity, laughter and music, and with people shouting stories.

Richard was a devotee of dodgy vehicles and we recalled in particular his patchwork mostly green Morris Minor which was hardly anonymous. In fact, fascists attacked the car and caused almost £200 of improvements. One night, we had piled in the Moggy after some gig/demo/other bit of Argy-bhaji (a triangular curried Argentinian snack) when Richard realised we were being followed by cops so at the next roundabout he slowed down and kept going round and round it to wind them up. When he finally stopped it was clear that the cops hadn’t seen the funny side but got such a gobload from an irate bunch of anarchists that they let us go and, after another couple of turns round the roundabout, we fucked off. No doubt more stories would have been told way beyond last orders but it was a good do and Richard would have loved it.


PS: this is the tribute from the Morning Star which isn’t as funny as ours.

About malatesta32

Malatesta aka M. Testa, undercover anti-fascist blogger, has analyzed the changing fortunes of the British far right for nearly a decade. He has given lectures on anti-fascism, published articles in Anarchist Studies and Freedom magazine and wrote Militant Anti-Fascism: 100 Years Of Resistance (AK Press 2015) which the Morning Star called a '‘Potent Primer On Europe’s Anti-Fascist Struggle … a useful source of information about the fight against fascism.’
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