Wayne Foster recounts his turbulent early life and how it led to him becoming an anarchist.
I suppose it's been influences right through my life. I mean I think I learned to mistrust and challenge authority from a young age so it's hard to say exactly when I became 'an anarchist'.
Although I was very young at the time, the experience of growing up in Derry during the 70s had a profound impact on me. Growing up in a neighbourhood patrolled by tanks would influence anybody. My dad was unemployed and finding it hard to keep his family away from the escalating violence, so he took us to the UK in the summer of 82. Of course in those days there was still a lot of anti-irish racism and it was hard for him to find work. My father was a proud man and an educated man, so it was hard for him to do odd jobs like washing cars, but we had to make ends meet.
In the mining area where we lived the class unity was amazing, but so was the clear distinction between families like ours and the toffs who lived outside town. I'd watch them on their ponies when I was out with my kestrel (pictured with Wayne, above) and the injustice and inequality just didn't seem right. My father was a socialist and a republican so when the miners strike kicked off he threw himself into the struggle. He was like a hero to me. My eldest brother used to go down to the pickets and fight alongside him but I was too young. I used to watch from my window as the scabs tried to drive through. Early one morning I saw the police beating my father on the ground and the image has stayed with me.
That was the same summer my little sister died of dysentry.
In the winter, the surviving members of our family all turned Afro-Carribean and moved to Broadwater Farm. I'll never forget the night my eldest brother came home and said they'd killed a cop and everyone was terrified for what would happen next. After that, anybody with black skin was even more criminalised than before. My father was arrested and charged with car breaking. The trial was a farce but he was sent down anyway. I'd never seen my father cry before, but tears clung to his cheek like dew on a rose petal as he waved to me from the dock.
I ran away to Paris to escape the social services who wanted to take me 'into care'. In Paris I lived a feral life, shoplifting and pick-pocketing from the rich. I worked for a time in a brothel and learned a lot about the subjugation of women.
Then one day an Eastern European travelling show came to town and invited me to hit the road with them. I could do some tricks and a bit of juggling and had seen so much turmoil for one so young that I took to life on the road like a fish to water. But I felt sorry for the elephants and became a vegan. There was an old Ukrainian magician called Malakanoff who used to tell me stories every night. He'd tell me tales of Nestor Makhno and the Ukranian revolution. As we crossed borders I learned a lot about racism, because then as now there was a lot of discrimination against Romanys. The people in the towns used to call us 'gypsies, tramps and thieves'.
When we made it to Gulyai Poyle Malakanoff introduced me to his great-grandaughter Tatiana who, like her mother before her, had fought a clandestine struggle under the banner 'liberty or death' throughout the 'communist' dictatorship. At twenty four she was ten years my elder but I fell madly in love with Tatiana and lost my virginity. We sat together afterwards, completely naked, as the rain began to fall. She was beautiful like a diamond.
That was the year the Berlin wall came down. It was an amazing scene and it influenced me deeply. I'll never forget how Tatiana held me that night on the ruins of the wall.
I left the show to become an urban guerilla and Tatiana gave me my first rusty AK. When I was seventeen we tried to assasinate Boris Yeltsin. Tatiana was killed in the shoot out. The silence inside me was so empty that to have screamed might have shattered my heart.
For my part I was jailed for life. In prison I learned to read and write. I also discovered the joys of same sex love with a bankrobber called Bollockoff. Before then I'd been blinded by heterosexist society and hadn't realised that all people are naturally bisexual. Even those who only fancy girls.
When I escaped many years later, killing two fascist screws, I travelled Europe sans papier and illegally re-entered the UK by stowing away on a Norwegian shipping vessel. I squatted a house in Hackney. It was while living in Hackney that I chanced across an article about hunt-sabbing in Class War. I never looked back from then.
Taken from a post in our forums here