I remember in the build up to the Iraq war when I and so many around me were incredulous at an absence of evidence or reasoning that could come close to justifying the inevitable disaster that ensued.
I was fresh out of drama school and working at the National Theatre as an usher. Corin Redgrave was very active there at the time both onstage and politically around the building, and was involved in organising much of the theatre world’s protest against Blair’s war-mongering.
It was a very exciting and emboldening time for me, and the Lyttleton Circle Foyer became a regular meeting point for the movement. We would pack out the entire level, sat crossed legged whilst speakers and performers would speak or perform; people such as Redgrave, Haniff Kureshi, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Will Self and many others. Ralph Steadman had painted the entire wall of the foyer with visual protest in his inimitable style.
The memory of the time that sticks with me the most though is the midnight candlelit vigils Corin would organise. We would walk along the Southbank from the National, and cross the Thames to where Brian was camped, and we would simply be there, whilst the cars drove passed and beeped their horns in solidarity.
It was an exciting time, filled with anger and inspiration. Standing with these older guys who had made a name for themselves, and were like little Gods to me such as Mark Rylance who would appear on his bike after a show at The Globe, Will Keen, Corin and of course Brian himself, who struck me as such a gentle quiet man with a real power in his eyes, and surprising good looks.
His protest should make us all proud of this country and our right for all of us to take a stand against ideologues and fundamentalsits like Bush and Blair. It should make us remember how important it is to retain our right to protest, no matter how much the state has tried to curtail those rights.