MY GRANNY MADE ME AN ANARCHIST: The Christie File: Part 1, 1946-1964 eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

CoverGrannywebMy Granny Made me an Anarchist: The Christie File: Part 1, 1946-1964. First published by ChristieBooks in 2002 in a limited edition of 100 copies, this fully revised, updated, unabridged eBook

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“This fascinating personal account offers a remarkable picture of the late-20th century, seen through sensitive eyes and interpreted by a compassionate, searching soul.” Noam Chomsky

“Stuart Christie’s granny might well disagree, given the chance, but her qualities of honesty and self-respect in a hard life were part of his development from flash Glaswegian teenager — the haircut at 15 is terrific — to the 18-year old who sets off to Spain at the end of the book as part of a plan to assassinate the Spanish dictator Franco. In the meanwhile we get a vivid picture of 1950s and early 1960s Glasgow, its cinemas, coffee bars and dance halls as well as the politics of the city, a politics informed by a whole tradition of Scottish radicalism. Not just Glasgow, because Stuart was all over Scotland living with different parts of his family, and in these chapters of the book there is a lyrical tone to the writing amplified by a sense of history of each different place. When we reach the 1960s we get a flavour of that explosion of working class creativity and talent that marked the time, as well as the real fear of nuclear war and the bold tactics used against nuclear weapons bases. It is through this period of cultural shake-up that Stuart clambers through the obstructive wreckage of labour and Bolshevik politics, and finds a still extant politics of libertarian communism that better fitted the mood of those times. Now, in 2002,it is Stuart who finds himself quoted in an Earth First pamphlet as the new generation of activists for Global Justice by-pass the dead hand of Trotskyist parties and renew the libertarian tradition.” John Barker

“What exactly Stuart Christie’s Granny is being made responsible for is rather a lot.  Given that the opening scene of this riveting autobiography is a bitterly funny account of his trial for attempting to murder General Franco, it seems that the poor lady is being saddled with more responsibility than is fair.   Moreover, her quick-draw way with a bar of carbolic soap when confronted with obscenity does not mark her out as much of a subversive.  On the other hand, as I know only too well from my own experience, Grannies, like Stuart’s, can provide an ethical framework that leads to serious questioning of conventional politics.   As this marvelously readable and often moving book reveals, the real responsibility lies in part with the post-1945 break-up of a social system based on deference — although it would be interesting to know why it did not have the same effect on Alex Ferguson.  Forged in the spirit of community in poor working-class Glasgow, profoundly influenced by Chic Murray and Dennis the Menace, local religious conflict, the father who went out for a packet of fags and did not come back for twenty years, Christie’s road to a Francoist courtroom in Madrid had many by-ways.   Perhaps the profoundest influence of all was the rebellious William Brown although this book has more of Billy Connolly than of Richmal Crompton.  A compelling read.” Professor Paul Preston

First off, I will admit to not being a big fan of autobiographies. I only bought Emma Goldman’s “Living me Life” this year and simply for her account of Bolshevik Russia. Saying that, Stuart Christie’s new book may persuade me to change my mind. The first volume of his autobiography is an extremely interesting read, well written and absorbing. For those who don’t know, Stuart is Scotland’s (and Britain’s) most famous anarchist. Born in Glasgow in 1946, Stuart’s book recounts his life in post-war Glasgow (and round about) and his political awakening, an awakening that brought him to via the Labour Party, anti-nuclear protesting and trade union activism, to anarchism.

‘Being a Glaswegian anarchist myself I was enthralled by his account of growing up in a Glasgow which was in so many ways similar to my own but, at the same time, was slowly disappearing. He gives the reader a glimpse into working class life and culture in the 1950s and 1960s, even down to the comics he read and the films and books which influenced him and his ideas. Unsurprisingly, many of his memories, influences and experiences I can relate to. Stuart said he became an anarchist outside the Mitchell library, I discovered I was one inside it. He talks about meeting anarchists like Bobby Lynn, a comrade I came to know decades later. He gives a good overview of the ideas of anarchism, its history and the state of the movement in the 1960s, both in Glasgow and in Britain as a whole. He discusses the anarchist resistance to Franco, providing background to his decision, at the age of 18, to go to Spain to assassinate the dictator. It is here that volume 1 ends. All I can say is I cannot wait for volume 2!

‘Compared to the original Christie File, published in 1980 by Cienfuegos Press (and found by me in Oxfam in Glasgow), this new version is substantially bigger. What was covered in one chapter in that book is now a book in itself. As such, owners of the original will find the book worth buying for the new material in it. Moreover, Stuart has supplemented his story with pictures of people, where he lived, his schools, protests and much more! He provides material on a wide range of related subjects (such as the Spanish and Cuban revolutions) as well as discussing left-wing, anarchist and anti-nuclear politics in the 1960s (including the Glasgow Committee of 100, Spies for Peace and Scots Against War).

‘His account of anarchism in Britain in the 1960s shows a divided movement, within which he was drawn to those around the Syndicalist Workers Federation. He considers that “the role of Freedom under the control of Vernon Richards and his close associates, proved seriously divisive within the British anarchist movement.” An opinion I, until recently, agreed with. Thankfully the split between Freedom and the class struggle anarchist movement (which dates from 1946 and which Stuart recounts) is being healed and the new century can see Freedom playing the role it did in the 1940s, namely the voice of a militant working class anarchist movement. His definition of anarchism shows the way forward:

“Anarchism is a movement for human liberation. It is concrete, democratic and egalitarian . . . Anarchism began — and remains — a direct challenge by the underprivileged to their oppression and exploitation. It opposes both the insidious growth of state power and the pernicious ethos of possessive individualism, which . . . ultimately serve only the interests of the few at the expense of the rest.

“Anarchism is both a theory and practice of life . . . Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice . . . If anarchists have on article of unshakeable faith, it is that, once the habit of deferring to politicians or ideologues is lost, and that of resistance is acquired, then ordinary people have a capacity to organise every aspect of their lives in their own interests.”

‘His autobiography is a testament to this perspective, to an anarchism that inspires people to fight for freedom, equality and solidarity. It shows that anarchism is more than a vision of a bigger tomorrow, it is a guide to bringing it about. As such, Stuart’s biography should inspire those who have the good fortune to read it.

‘This book is a limited edition and is so expensive in order to fund a bigger (and so cheaper) reprint. As such, I would urge all comrades who can afford it to buy a copy. For the others, get their local library to get a copy. Either way, you will not be disappointed.’    FLAG BLACKENED

Table of Contents

Mise-en-scène 7

Preamble 9

A River Runs Through It  10

Caves In The Sandstone Canyons 14

Partick  15

The Kindness of Strangers  16

Servants of the Light 18

Operation Kitchen Table 19

The Italian Connection  20

Houston, We Have a Problem   22

The Games People Play 23

Chapel Perilous 24

A Tramcar Named Auchenshuggle   25

Penny Caramels 26

Radio Times 27

A Bunch o’ Comedians  28

Travel in Mind 30

Transports of Delight  31

Old Torry  32

Just Another Saturday…  33

High Art  34

Sunday, Bloody Sunday!   35

Lordy, Lordy Ah Didnae Ken…  36

‘Ay, Weel, Ye Ken the Noo!’   36

Divine Authority   38

Bible Stories You Never Heard Before  39

Beyond the Pail  40

Dowanhill Primary School — 1950 42

‘Big Fight In The Wee Park!’  44

‘Billies’ and ‘Dans’  46

The Rings of Abbeyleix 53

Grampa Ring — 1878–1955  55

Granny — 1890–1969   60

My Granny Made Me an Anarchist 61

‘Land O’ Birk An’ Rowan Tree — Bonny Gallowa’  62

Great Grandfather  62

Gran’s Early Years 63

Soldier, Soldier…   65

Mum — 1922-2012   67

Dad — 1915–1974 68

Jacobites by name   69

Back To Sea   75

Kidnapped!  76

Saltcoats and Ardrossan — 1954–55  78

Taking My ‘Dowts’ to Jesus 79

The Light That Failed  79

Without Benefit of Clergy  80

Sectarian Politics — 1955  81

Arran — Days of Whin and Rose Hips  83

Role Models  86

‘Vigleikr Was Here….’  88

Sherpa McTensing  90

Container for the Thing Contained 90

The Pictures  92

Son of the Manse 94

Out, Damned Spot! 96

Captain of Murderers 96

The Woggle Brigade 97

The Green Man 100

Tartanic Verses 101

Wu’r No In Kansas Ony Mair…  103

Send Not To Ask For Whom The Riff Twangs…  105

Those Whom The Gods Would Destroy They First Sent Mad  107

Goodnight, Sergeant Major  108

The Class of ‘59   109

The 1950s – ‘It’s A Great Life – If You Don’t Weaken’ 113

Blantyre — 1960 119

Doon The Pit  121

Politicisation  123

The Spanish Civil War  123

Stalin’s ‘Great Game’ 124

Mr Kennedy Goes To Washington  127

The One-Armed Dominie   129

Hank Janson Meets Lady Chatterley   136

‘I Am Legend’  138

Orangemen Are Not the Only Fruits… 139

The Wilder Side Of Life   139

The Forward March of Socialism  141

1961:  First of the Buckfast Wine   142

Ban the Bomb!  144

The Glesca Eskimos’ or ‘Messing About On The River…’   146

We All Know Where Kennedy Was That Night In the Red Lion  151

Square-Dealing Men  151

‘Trots’ and the Labour Party   153

The Cliff-Hangers-On  155

Solidarity Forever  158

The Day Gaitskell ’Lost the Heid’ — Sunday 6 May 1962   161

Hamilton Young Socialists 163

A Modern Folk Tale: A Historic ‘Stushie’ at The Marland  164

Ten Days That Shook the World  166

Common Purpose 168

Union Militancy 169

The Glasgow Committee Of 100  171

The Bitter Winter of 1962: ‘Beyond Counting Arses’    172

Spring 1963: Spies for Peace  173

Scots Against War  175

The Factory For Peace — Summer 1963  180

Summer 1963 — Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow 182

Glasgow’s Anarchists 183

The ‘Wee Man Frae the Calton’ 184

Reading Matters 190

The Summer of 1963 191

Their Man in Havana 192

Greek Drama   194

The Glasgow Federation of Anarchists   195

The British Anarchist Milieu in the 1960s 196

Snapshot of the UK anarchist movement in 1963-64  198

Spain and Franco  203

1963: Franco — The Surviving ‘Axis’ Dictator  203

Rogue Male 207

Just Cause, Just War 207

London — 1964    209

Albert Meltzer  211

The Harts of the Matter  212

The Anarchists of Notting Hill 213

Ben Birnberg, Lawyer Extraordinaire  214

The Artist and the Poet  215

Who the Fuck Is Eddie Linden? 216

The Mouse That Bored 217

Speaker’s Corner  218

The West London Wackos  219

The ’62 Group 221

Informers and Agents Provocateurs  223

The Metropolitan Police Special Branch and Security Service (MI5)   224

The Secret Policeman’s Call  225

Give Flowers to the Rebels Failed  227

Duende  228

Torpor of Exile   229

Recruited  230

Why Me? Why Then? 232

1964 – Weltanschauung  234

Exits and Entrances   236


Aims and Principles of the Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias   239

The Post-War Guerrilla Struggle Against Franco   242

The Hijacking of the Santa Maria  244

Consequences   249

Defensa Interior  251

Funding and Weapons  252

Kill Franco! 254

The Execution of Delgado and Granado 275

Freemasonry 284