The news came in that anybody who was involved with the roads protest at Solsbury Hill who fancied a bit of a rest would be welcome to come to the Harvest Fayre up in Wales. So needless to say when the time came we all piled into my truck and made the long drive up to Cilgerran.

On arrival at the gate without mishap on the journey, someone jumped out, had a quick word with the people on the gate and we were in.

It was a beautiful green field site not far from a lovely little village in upper mid Wales. Wales has always been a bit of a mecca for hippie type free parties and festivals. They have the space for one thing. It’s easy to find land hidden away from local residents in the wild, dramatic landscape.

Plus there were loads of enclaves of like-minded people who had land and who had found refuge there. Tally Valley or Tipi valley by its other name wasn’t too far away, and there were lots of sites in around Hereford, Leominster, Brechfa, Llandeilo and Machynylleth.

One of them subsequently became the Centre for Alternative Technology pioneering the use of wind and solar power. Later, I loved the idea that a friend from there was being flown around the country in helicopters accompanied by Government ministers at one point.

We’d heard tales of the brilliance of a Spiral event at Bala lake, which was not too far from Cilgerran , and consequently were excited to see what the weekend would hold. It felt great to get away and what a weekend it was.

There was a hippie section, a rave section well away from the hippies, and a massive open area devoted to tipis and a big pagan type harvest ceremony that would be the centerpiece of Saturday night’s entertainment.
Some friends from Bristol who had deep connections with Wales had a tent there already with a rig all flouro’ed up by Chris and Donna who still run what has become Tribe of Frog, and two of our DJ friends were there to meet us with their deep house tunes.

I lost my hair forever at that festival. Up until then, it was long, in a ponytail, forever under a cap. Someone had some of those mental golden microdots again, and though I’d passed up before due to responsibility in London, I’d seen their beatific effects in full effect. In the clear sunshine surrounded by friendship, the blue of the sky and the green of the grass it was clearly time to try them out.

We met a geezer sat on a hay bale in the middle of a field. He was shouting at any one passing. “Come here you bloody hippies! Come on over here! Get a life, get a job, get your fucking hair cut! Lose those dreadlocks. Smarten up and fly right. Get your fucking hair cut!”

That did it for me. He had a set of clippers attached to car battery with no guides so it was all or nothing. Some time very shortly later I had nothing left on my head but a Grade 0 crop. It was liberating, the biblical tale about Samson and his hair was patently rubbish.

The musical highlight was three huge buses parked in a u-shape, one across the back flanked by two parked at right angles on either side creating an enclosed dance floor with a rig that didn’t stop for the entire time we were there.

At some point we thought we’d met the Chemical Bros, as we made friends with two guys calling themselves the Dust Bros, which was the name that famous duo originally used. Our illusions didn’t last for long though and it soon became evident why they’d adopted that nickname.

The other very exciting rumour on site was that The Ramones were on site after one of the gate staff let a chap in who told them he was one of the famous punk idols we’d grown up listening to. The gate geezer even maintained he looked like one of the Ramones.

As dark fell on the Saturday night, people gathered around a huge corn statue that was straight out of the set of the Wicker Man but with outstretched hands making it look like a rave version.

Around the statue was a maze made out of sand. The sand was then soaked in paraffin. After a procession of pagan type dancing and music arrived at the statue, someone lit the sand on the outskirts of the maze.
As the flames travelled into the maze everyone followed them using the pathways between the sand dancing whooping and making music with drums and recorders until the statue was surrounded in celebration until the flames died away as the paraffin evaporated. Why they didn’t burn the statue too I couldn’t quite understand, but hey, at least it lived to see another day.

Chris Pace, the guy behind the Harvest Fayre, ran another one in 1996 that we went to on a different site at Fishguard. That didn’t go so well. It rained massively. There was a scarily big police presence on the outside. In the middle of Saturday night Zion Train played the main stage. In the middle of their set they stopped the music, announced that everyone was now playing for free, and it was now our very own free festival. A massive roar of approval went up from the crowd.



After the success and peaceful carnival nature of 1st march against the CJA, we were invited back to take part in the 2nd national demonstration against the legislation in London on the 24th of July 1994.

The first march had attracted virtually no media coverage. There was no violence. There was no PR value in giving it space in a mainstream media dedicated to hysterical reports about the killer nature of ecstasy, the scourge of illegal drugs, the activities of rampaging hordes of crusty traveller ravers and the plight of poor old ladies being displaced from their homes by villainous, destructive squatters.

The 2nd march was much larger than the first, which had attracted maybe 20,000 plus people. The word had clearly gone out on the bush telegraph that existed in rave culture at that time, as word of mouth was everything. Practically every major city in the country was holding, or had held, its own local anti CJA demonstration. Post event estimates put the attendance at between 50,000-80,000 people depending on whether the sources were establishment or not.

The Socialist Worker Party had also got on the bandwagon and annoyingly branded the demo with placards saying Kill The Bill, which in retrospect was kind of not cricket. This time we were in a 7.5t curtain sider rather than a flat bed, in case it rained. We needn’t have worried. It was blazing hot. This time we invited local Bristol crew Mutant Dance to come along and jazz up our rig with their crazy flouro madness. Hyde Park was simply singing with people as coaches arrived from all over the country to gather in opposition and voice their protest.

There were a lot more rigs too. Oops from Reading, Exodus from Luton, Smokescreen from Sheffield along with a DiY crew from Notts, who gave everyone All Systems Go t-shirts. Traveller type folk heroes the Tofu Love Frogs had also got a rig on their lorry representing the London contingent, along with a pink armoured car that turned up from somewhere.

It took ages to get going and the route to Trafalgar Square was much more convoluted than on the previous march; taking us away from the major thoroughfares in an attempt to make the demo less visible. There was also a massively increased and threatening Police presence. Lines of them were blocking every road off route with riot vans of reinforcements as back up, the passive aggressive threat of impending potential violence implicit.
The streets of London were turned into a massive rave. The march seemed to stop and start along with the builds and breaks of the music. The Smokies with their bouncy throbbing deep house vibes full of disco love. Exodus with huge jungle breaks sending the crowd into a series of exhilarating, roaring peaks.

Once again it was a massively celebratory and peaceful affair. The only small flashpoint occurred after the march had reached Trafalgar when a small contingent tried to scale the gates of Downing Street just down the road. This clearly caused some unrest and gave the Police their the excuse to wade in on a small scale. They charged the crowd there with Police horses, before 14 people were arrested.

That mini event also gave the press something to focus on in their subsequent reporting of the event, which clearly also featured the SWP’s Kill The Bill placards. In public order situations like that however, it is never possible to assume that people are who they appear to be. Possible infiltration by the forces of evil was on everyone’s minds.
In the Square Tony Benn spoke again, while people played in the fountains, accompanied by a selection of other politicians and union types keen to get themselves some exposure, including one Jeremy Corbyn.

We missed all that however, as having developed their strategy since the first march where Trafalgar Square had danced, had fun and raved without incident to our rig and Desert Storm; the Police had requested that all the sound systems be directed away from the march before it reached the square.
At the first march, one of the lines of defense to the Police when they were trying to move us on, was that it was far better to have us there and keep people dancing, giving them a positive focus on fun, rather than provoke a potential public order situation by sending us away. A sentiment clearly they ignored this time round.

That meant a detour south of the river, on a magical mystery tour away from the route that the rest of the march took, before heading back over London Bridge. Then came the instruction to head towards Victoria Embankment, taking us right in front of the Houses of Parliament , and the gift of allowing us to take the rave to the very institution that was acting to outlaw us.

The volume got turned up, and we waved at the row upon row of empty windows, wishing the MP’s were in session, but clearly being MP’s there’s no way they work weekends in that particular house.
This time we decided not to do an after party, but as Claremont Road was still a thriving center for everything counter cultural we headed up there to take part in the festivities along with what seemed like half the march.
Late into that night we finally left the city in a friends big green hippie bus, and made the journey under cover of darkness back from one roads protest to another, finally reaching Solsbury Hill in the dawn of next morning, just a short trip from away from home.



It was an early door’s start that morning. The hire lorry needed picking up, followed by the rig and décor. Then it was the drive from Bristol to London in a variety of vehicles.

For weeks beforehand we’d been preparing, sitting in circles on the floor of various living rooms night after night; making and assembling literally thousands of Raver Saver packs by hand, in a production line, to give away on the march.

The elements were contained in little plastic sealey bags. We’d designed little fold out information sheets with useful info on them that echoed the format of our flyers. There were friendly lawyers phone numbers, rights on arrest info, epaulette identification guides so you could recognize the rank of given police officers, a form to write down info in case of arrest and a great quote about money from Joseph Campbell; all in a cute graphic package. On the front was a symbol of a copper, with the words Get Out Of Jail Free.

Also in the pack was a folded big rizla, a couple of non safety matches, a small yellow sticker with an appropriate word on it, a silver holographic sticker that had been re-purposed from its original use as an identification device for people attending the Tory party conference that year; a menu detailing the contents, a roach card, a multi vit, a chewing gum and either a sunflower seed or a cannabis seed to plant later.

One of us had designed a poster for the march for Liberty with an image of the palm of my hand on it, made to look like a turkey. It was a reference to the repressive nature of the discriminatory ideas contained in the proposed policy creation.

A summons had originated to take the rig on the march by the Advance Party, and a lady from United Systems, that we’d met earlier in the year during our involvement in the No M11 link Road Protest. We were pretty much unknowns being from the West Country.

Hyde Park was buzzing when we arrived to set up the rig on the lorry. People were everywhere, the sun was shining, the grass was green. There was an overwhelming sense of community and friendship from the people around us.

This was an opportunity to congregate and voice democratic opinion against the impending Tory legislation to criminalise the free parties that were successfully happening across the country pretty much every weekend; parties that we had all had so much harmless fun at. They were the real time social networking events of the time, catalysts for friendship and the sharing of ideas and common ground.

This was a government as ever dedicated to enshrining injustice within law, while claiming it was actually justice. The idea that it would make criminals of us all overnight, as well a whole generation around the country, simply for
wanting to hang out and dance together in a new kind of previously unseen community within which we all felt at home; was self evidently wrong.

Politicians always pretend to the moral high ground, when in reality they are mostly mired in the foul swamp of corporate corruption. As our current Prime Minister is so fond of reminding people, in a democracy everyone has a personal political responsibility to do what they feel is right. This is true, even if it is inconvenient to the agendas of Parliament. That is the nature of freedom in a democracy.

The march set off in a massively carnival atmosphere and we were allocated a position at the rear by the stewards. There were a couple of rigs, one a customized Bedford CF by Desert Storm.

People were looking on in amazement. There was impromptu dancing to our music on the streets of the capital. The back of the truck was crowded and bouncing. Down Marble Arch and into Piccadilly we went, occasionally halting for stragglers and latecomers to catch up, occasionally urging forward to keep the crowd together.
The thing about demonstrations is that they are like icebergs. Only a small amount of the support for them is visible in those actually attending. Most people have lives and responsibilities that prevent them from being able to go. They are the ones hidden under the surface, the uncounted.

Stood on top of the speakers going through Piccadilly Circus there was a massive line of policemen presumably put in place to prevent any deviation from the agreed route but we were heading for the heart of the city, Trafalgar Square, to hold a rave at the very gates of Whitehall.

As we arrived we were directed to pull up at top of the square in front of The National Portrait Gallery. The square was full of people. Desert Storm were actually in the middle of the crowd down in the square itself. We turned off the music to allow the speakers at to say their peace. Tony Benn was the last person to speak out in opposition. When he concluded, that was our signal. We turned on the music and at that point, that was the moment. Our 8k of speakers began to do their job and nothing was the same ever again.

The roar of the crowd as they turned everyone punching their hands in the air in communal celebration, sent adrenalin through my body up my spine. The hair on the back of my neck stood up in a rush like I’d never known while stone cold sober. For a couple of hours we played, our designated driver unfortunately lost in the crowd, so we couldn’t move, despite the Police advice that we should do so and bring proceedings to an end.

When we finally did move, we did a lap of honour around the square before heading up Tottenham Court Road and back down Oxford Street, with the music pumping all the way to de-rig the truck back in the Hyde Park and rest. Our opinion voiced, our civic duty done, with not a trace of civil unrest anywhere.



Forest Fayre was meant to be a pay festival. It was mostly organized by Sid Rawle, one of the prominent figures in the Stonehenge Free festival which the precursor of the modern festival industry. That is you were meant to pay, but the free festival ethos that dominated events in those days meant that we just got in a truck, and somehow just got allowed in.

The big draw for us was Circus Warp, one of the rigs who made the Castlemorton free festival what it was, and Lazy House, another legendary free party crew from Devon, although the Fayre was somehow connected to more the hippie end of the scale via involvement from the Rainbow Circle in its organization, or disorganization, if you read the rabid press clippings about it from the time.

There was a lot of politics back then between old school hippie types and newer school people who were into raving, and the entire cultural phenomenon was the subject of hysterical treatment by the media designed to whip up public fear, suspicion and resentment.

“New age travellers’ whoever they might be, were referred to in the press and by politicians as “scum”, “vermin” and “subhuman with no rights” for instance, which is so not politically correct by todays standards. But then again there were good reasons for authority wanting to vilify the culture in the public mind.

But that was then, and this is now, and the grand culture that came out of those times is now a massive industry success story in the face of recession; relicensed back to the public and bought into by hundreds of thousands of people every weekend of the summer.

Whatever the Forest Fayre was, it was exceptionally muddy and a lot of fun.