Colin Revolting: My friend Blair Peach

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Guest post by Colin Revolting

My Mum knew Blair Peach as a ‘nice gently spoken man’ as they were both in  the National Union of Teachers Rank and File group. She told me Blair taught ESN (“Educationally Sub-Normal”) kids and that National Front members had pulled him off his bike whilst cycling to and from the school in East London.

There were lots of times to confront the Front during their election campaign of 1978-79.

Me and mates had spent Sunday in Leicester. Thousands of us took over the city centre and rained rocks down on the master race when the cops stupidly paraded them past a building site. (“I got hit by a rock against racism,” moaned a copper when he caught us fly-posting for RAR).

The next night in a little place called Southall sounded like it’d be a quiet affair in comparison to our riot in Leicester, so I spent the evening printing pages for our punk rock fanzine instead. But my best mate, Neal and my big brother, Stuart made the journey across London by Ford Cortina.

They felt like they’d entered an occupied city, with police vans patrolling as Asians and Anti-Nazi’s filled the streets with tension and anticipation. Neal and Stuart got out just as the police’s Special Patrol Group went wild.

I was still asleep when my Mum burst into my room the next morning – what was she doing? – she never came into my teenage bedroom and anyway I was doing the late shift on the Town Hall’s computer.

“They killed one of us,” she said.

That afternoon I went to visit our punk band’s drummer in hospital as he’d broken his leg and I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard. RIOT MAN DEAD was the headline.

Going on anti fascist marches and protests were always exhilarating and terrifying, adrenalin-fuelled affairs  – but from that day on they felt different again … It wasn’t a game.

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