Monthly Archives: March 2014

Anon, “Our Teacher Blair”

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This poem was published in Chris Searle’s collection, One for Blair: An Anthology of Poems for Young People

Our teacher Blair
Had tousled old hair

Big brown eyes
An enormous size

And they smiled when he walked
And they smiled when he talked

And whenever he stammered
His love only hammered

Our teacher Blair
He was always fair

Black white or brown
He’d never let us down

He taught us words
That made us fly like birds

And the meaning of together
And to stay that way forever

He taught us right
And how we’d have to fight

To make the world again
And find peace again

One hell of a teach
Was our Mr Peach

He didn’t make no fuss
Just struggled and died for us

Blair Peach in The Listener

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On the first anniversary of Peach’s death, New Zealand’s Listener magazine (imagine a cross between the Guardian Weekend magazine and the Radio Times) published the above, detailed account of his life and death, complete with a number of interviews both from Peach’s youth and from Southall.

It includes an interview with Parita Trevidy, a British-Indian Southall resident:

“Southall is ours. For us it’s one place in England where we know we’re relativel safe because we’re among our own people. It’ slike you going back to New Zealand. We came here for a better life. But now we face racism of the worst sort, from the state, in the form of police brutality, indiscriminate violence from the police force, such as happened on April 23. That’s why Blair Peach died. He was in the firing-line, so to speak, between the police and us.”

There are also interviews with Blair’s teachers, school friends, etc

Further images below (double click on any to enlarge).

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Linton Kwesi Johnson, “Reggae Fi Peach”

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Everywhere you go its the talk of the day,
Everywhere you go you hear people say,
That the Special Patrol them are murderers (murderers),
We cant make them get no furtherer,
The SPG them are murderers (murderers),
We cant make them get no furtherer,
Cos they killed Blair Peach the teacher,
Them killed Blair Peach, the dirty bleeders.

Blair Peach was an ordinary man,
Blair Peach he took a simple stand,
Against the fascists and their wicked plans,
So them beat him till him life was done.

Everywhere you go its the talk of the day,
Everywhere you go you hear people say,
That the Special Patrol them are murderers (murderers),
We cant make them get no furtherer,
The SPG them are murderers (murderers),
We cant make them get no furtherer,
Cos they killed Blair Peach the teacher,
Them killed Blair Peach, the dirty bleeders.

Blair Peach was not an English man,
Him come from New Zealand,
Now they kill him and him dead and gone,
But his memory lingers on.

Oh ye people of England,
Great injustices are committed upon this land,
How long will you permit them, to carry on?
Is England becoming a fascist state?
The answer lies at your own gate,
And in the answer lies your fate.

Blair Peach in the press: “call to publish Southall report” (13 July 1979)

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By July 1979, Commander Cass had sent his first report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Amongst other things, he had concluded that the killer must have been from Unit 1/1 of the Special Patrol Group: “from enquiries it is now obvious at the officers concerned were Special Patrol Group and there is no credible evidence that any other officers were actually at the scene” (page 63).

His report remained unpublished, although there were already rumours as to what he had discovered.

A number of local Community Relations Council began to lobby the CRE to demand that the report was published in full.

Michael Rosen and Susannah Steele, “Blair Peach”

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Rosen

Double click on image for a video of the poem 

What’s that on your hands, son?
What’s that on your hands?

Only a spot of blood, mum
Only a spot of blood

How did it get there, son?
How did it get there, then?

Must have been a nose-bleed, mum
Must have been me nose

What’s this down your coat, son?
What’s this down your coat?

Looks like blood an’ all mum
Looks like blood an’ all

That was never your nose, son
That was never just your nose

Must have come from one of the others
Must have come from one of our men

But it’s all in your boots and socks, son
It’s all in your boots and socks

All in the course of duty, mum
All in the course of me job

These stains will never come out, son
These stains will never come out

They’ll be put in the bin and forgot, mum
They’ll be put in the bin and forgot

They’ll fix you up with new ones, son
They may fix you up like new
But I’ll remember this, son I’ll remember this:
You came home with blood on your boots
From a day of keeping the peace

Blair Peach in the press: Paul Foot’s London Diary (15 June 1979)

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Paul Foot, writing in the New Statesman, was proud to have broken the story that the pathologists’ inquiries had showed that the weapon which killed Blair Peach was probably not a police truncheon.

Professor Bowen who carried out the original post mortem investigation into Peach’s killing, and Professor Mant, who carried out a subsequent post morterm on behalf of the family, both agreed on this. Mant noted that the blow had split Peach’s skull but not his skin and indicated that a blow from a truncheon would probably have split the skin. There had been just one, heavy, blow to Peach’s head, suggesting the use of a weighty instrument, but police truncheons are relatively light. He concluded that the blow could have been caused by any of a range of instruments, such as a lead weighted rubber cosh or a hosepipe filled with lead, or potentially a police radio.

This information significant because during the raid on the lockers of the SPG officers, Constable White had been found to possess a cosh, which he claimed to have acquired either as a gift during a visit to America in 1969 or “at a road block that as unit we had been conducting and after dealing with several cars it must have been dropped by someone … I don’t know who” (Cass, enclosures, pages 1097, 1023).

 

Words for Blair Peach by Louis Johnson

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Johnson

Louis Johnson (1924-1988) was a New Zealand and a contributor to Peach’s magazine, Argot.

I remember the slight youth–Jewish perhaps–
a dark tousle of hair and owl-size spectacles
who came to my house in the early sixties
for poems for his student magazine

and how he whistled surprise and some alarm
when I read him my new surrealistic story
of cruelty and authority and the fool
who comes through adversity, bloody, unbowed.

Tonight that name lies dead on a London street,
dropped by a television announcer as news,
its cause quite lost against a National Front,
whose darkening wings taper to iron fists.

An image of banners, boots and beetle-brows,
and a head with the yolk collapsed.
No new world now. And the old one split
Opinion is harder held away from home.

If I ask myself again why the earth’s gentle
wander the world with slogans lofted
demanding so little more than freedom to breathe,
it is no longer that I expect an answer.