The early 70s were a hotbed of
sects, sub-sects, enclaves &c across the board from the Angry
Brigade to the Yippies, Of the thousand-and-one types of hippy
that spontaneously generated during the period, history has ignored
Wally, the 'laughing Rock and Roll Movement'. In the days before
New Age Travellers had been invented, Wally upset the authorities
in the Stonehenge area with the now familiar list of bugbears
- illegal camping, free festivals, squatting, and other such things
that no-one other than authorities and people living within a
quarter-mile radius of such people are ever much bothered by.
The Wally war-cry - or, rather,
peace-cry - was 'Wally - the laughing Rock and Roll Movement,
spearhead tribal clan entrenched, to Arthur's banner. Best mates
with all'. And this latter statement was largely the case, with
the notable exception of the Department of the Environment, and
the shadowy We Love Amesbury Brigade.
FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES
Wally first came the attention
of the local media when the eight-strong group were taken to court
in 1974 for camping illegally at Stonehenge, in tents made of
PVC stolen by a former amusement arcade manager from Whitley Bay
*. 'God wanted Wally to camp at Stonehenge' reported the Salisbury
Journal. Spokesman Wally Hope said 'we have a very high religious
motivation - from Flower Power to Sun Power' - citing Jesus, Buddha,
Ghandi and 'a mystic poet of the Oglala Sioux' : but God's powers
were as naught compared with the High Court and Wally's 'Garden
of Allah' was hastily abolished, yoga meditation camp and all.
Their argument that Stonehenge
was public property was rejected, and doubtless their laid back
approach precluded them pushing it too strongly anyway. Again
the Salisbury Journal caught the flavour of the proceedings, Wally
Hope painting the defeat as a victory : 'We won. We'd have won
whatever happened. We were playing with the Ace of Hearts. The
judge told us that we were 100 per cent good people We have won
because we made friends with him. We made friends with our lawyer.
We made friends with you reporters. What more can you want out
of life that to make friends?'; another Wally, Wally Egypt, sat
outside the courtroom blowing bubbles. Occasionally 'she broke
into song accompanied by a tambourine strapped to one ankle'.
Where would Wally go? Wally Wonder
said that they would move the camp five yards to a track 'which
he says is common land and therefore "fair game".' Every
day is a Sun Day according to the Wally worldview and Stonehenge
was where they wanted to pitch their wigwams. 'How would they
get there?' enquired the Journal: "we are going to fly man"
said Wally Hope.
EVERYTHING - INCLUDING THE KITCHEN
Wally claimed that 'the police
and the army are our best mates'. But the same was definitely
not true of the We Love Amesbury Brigade. Amesbury is a sleepy
market town in South Wiltshire much frequented by soldiers stationed
on Salisbury Plain - there not really being anywhere else to go
to buy chips and drink beer. It is not the sort of place you might
immediately associate with internecine warfare and paramilitary
terror campaigns. Enter the We Love Amesbury Brigade. A Wally
squat in the town was singled out for the attentions of said organisation,
being attacked one night in May 1975 with 'milk bottles, iron
bars, and even an old kitchen sink'.
Who were these sink-wielding vigilantes
from the sticks? The people of Amesbury kept their secrets: doubtless
because no-one really knew. The police made no comment. Probably
because they neither knew nor cared. The local disco denied all
knowledge. Presumably for the same reason. The Salisbury Journal
found a witness: 'One woman who heard the noise of the raid says
she believes it was local lads, but is saying no more'. A veil
of silence descended melodramatically over Amesbury. A permanent
one, as it would appear: no-one ever heard a peep from the We
Love Amesbury Brigade again.
AT HOME WITH WALLY
The Journal gives us a valuable
insight into the Wally way of life.
The Wallys moved instantly, to
two condemned houses across the road:'We don't want to scrap',
they said 'We don't wish anyone harm. We just want to live in
peace'. They offered to repair any damage to the offending house,
and 'loved their enemies': 'At the moment it is all cool. We don't
want any trouble started up. We aren't going to tell the police
who they are'.
Wally were soon back raising hackles
at Stonehenge, but displaying a similar magnanimity. The druids
celebrating the 1975 summer solstice at the famous stones were
treated to an aural wallpaper of rock and roll, courtesy of Wally
who had decided to hold their own celebrations in the form of
a free festival. Illegal, of course. But the police were content
with the behaviour of the revellers, and a local landowner was
presented with a £60 collection made by Wally, to go towards
the cost of repairing damaged fencing. The landowner, local magistrate
Jack Wort 'thought it was a very happy gesture'.
The press coverage of the Wally
activities in 1974/5 is relatively light hearted, and mutual relations
between Wally, and the local people and authorities largely seem
to have been tolerant and respectful, even mildly endearing and
sweet. Very much in sharp contrast with the over-policing and
violence of the 'beanfield' eighties. What became of the laughing
rock and rollers and their child-like expressions of goodwill?
After 1975 the media attention disappeared, punk rock being the
new Satan, and history reveals no more. Perhaps you can supply
the missing pages? Any ex-Wallys or companions of ex-Wallys are
welcome to send their knowledge and anecdotes.
*that's another story.
The Salisbury Journal once again proves itself the key source
for information on Wally. Columnist The Badger confesses
to a personal knowledge of the golden age of Wally: "Sometimes
they would venture as far afield as The Cadena Cafe in Salisbury's
Blue Boar Row... One particular specimin was called "Doc
Wally" - why, I don't know, he was clearly in need of urgent
medical intervention himself. A man so ravaged by drugs and drink
that his teeth had fallen out, he had a pronounced speech impediment
and his favourite phrase was "It was a hell of a hassle,
man". Such was his tenacity, combined with a profound stutter
on the letter 'H', that verbalising his catchphrase was quite
a long and drawn-out procedure". At a 'gig' at Salisbury's
City Hall, Badger was "approached by a Wally who introduced
himself thus: "My name's Wally... Titus Groan Wally. The
skin's fallin' off me face, man". He felt that if I bought
him a Southern Comfort he felt it might alleviate his condition."