Former KLF man BILL DRUMMOND launched his “silent protest” against war in the Middle East at the MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY in east LONDON last night (October 29).
In a brief 30-minute talk in front of an invited audience of 50 competition winners, Drummond outlined his reason for staging the protest – which involves staying silent for 24 hours and using a pack of 52 cards with slogans such as “Hello”, “Yes”, “No”, “Tea”, “Pint”, “Where Is The Lavatory?”, “You Look Great” and “Because It’s Stupid” to communicate.
He said it was fuelled by a sense of silently standing by while the world slips into war in the aftermath of last year’s September 11 attacks.
“It felt like we were gradually slipping into something, in the same way things happened in Germany in the 1930’s; you can see what’s happening but you can’t do anything about it. As an individual, you stand silently by while it all happens.
“I thought that silence thing, maybe you can turn it on its head, and thought, ‘I know, I’ll be silent for a year’. Then realised of course I wouldn’t be able to do it. So I decided to try a day. And if 365 people all do a day, it’ll add up to a year.”
The talk was interrupted by Mark Manning, aka Zodiac Mindwarp, who heckled for the first ten minutes telling Drummond, who he wrote a book with about a trek to the North Pole, to shut up, before dropping a glass and storming out of the hall.
Each of the audience members were given a pack of cards as they left, and a further event was held at The Foundry bar nearby, with 1,000 helium-filled balloons being released by artist Tracey Sanders-Wood, who attached copies of the cards to each balloon with a number for anyone finding it to call. Anyone who finds a balloon and contacts her will be sent a pack of silent protest cards.
Only 1,000 packs have been produced, and when challenged at the balloon-release later in the evening over where the £6 cost per pack will be going, Drummond retorted: “I keep it! I have six kids to feed and clothe, and there is a warning on the side of the pack which says no money from the sale of these cards goes to charity.”
One person at the event asked how much it would cost to buy the six-foot black canvas with “Silence” painted on in white, underlined with yellow, which had acted as a backdrop during his talks, which Drummond said would set him back £2,000.
Drummond, who began his second attempt at the 24-hour silence at midnight last night, told NME.COM that it was “incredibly difficult” to do, but he hoped that it would spread and become a wider protest. “I’m not trying to be Bob Geldof about it, I’m not somebody that’s born to attempt to lead. But I like the idea that this might trigger things off in other people.”
NME.COM’s Alan Woodhouse is staging his own Silent Protest today. To find out how he fared, see next week’s issue of NME.