The Raging Grannies

Betty Brightwell

Together we have performed more than a hundred years of work in the peace movement. As we are approaching sixty years of age—or have passed it—and realize that the threat of nuclear war is still hanging over our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, we get angry, raging mad! We know we haven’t much time left in our lifetime to change things or bring some sanity into the conduct of international affairs.

So we sing satire. We aren’t very good at singing, but the medium being the message, as grannies in bright colourful clothes fashionable a couple of generations ago, and wearing smiles, outrageous hats and pink running shoes, we seem to have an appeal.

We sing about U.S. nuclear warships coming into Canada and John Diefenbaker spinning in his grave as a result. When we sing about the U.S. nuclear umbrella which “protects” us, we put up a ragged golf umbrella full of holes. We sing about terrified caribou hazed by low flights of NATO planes or uranium mining, relating it to the disaster at Bhopal in India.e are convinced that the techno–chase will eliminate the human race. We march to “It’s a long way to Vladivostok” and tell you that an ICBM could get there in seven minutes from New York and vice versa but, we warn, “if the missiles meet up midway, you know who’s below&8221;—and a grannie rips open her jacket to reveal the red and white maple leaf. Even raging grannies ’gainst nuclear subs can end up on the CSIS subversive list.

We’ve sung outside B.C. Government House to the Prime Minister and his cabinet. We’ve sung to the crew of the USS nuclear submarine Indianapolis. We’ve sung to Peter Gzowski in person and over Morningside on the CBC radio. We’ve sung to you on the CBC National, to Pierre Berton, to Farley Mowat, to Victoria Mayor Gretchen Brewin, and our own M.P. Pat Crofton.

We began by singing to theatre lineups. We sang at the spring Peace Walk, and at an anti–uranium rally. We even disrupted the B.C. Peace Conference and yet received a standing ovation from the assembly. We’ve been ignored in shopping malls, loved by senior citizens’ clubs, and called “pinkos” by others.

Lordy, lordy, lordy. Where does our energy come from? All of us have other things to do and other lives to lead. But these days we find it more rewarding just being raging grannies together and singing songs about survival issues and being concerned about the future of our grandchildren and the grandchildren of the entire planet.

Reprinted from PEACE Magazine’s April/May 1988 issue. PEACE Magazine is published bi–monthly. A six issue subscription costs $15.00. Write: PEACE Magazine, 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2R4.

Published in the Connexions Digest, Volume 12, Number 1, Fall 1988.



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