A PAIR of trainers prompts Tom Stevenson to confess to a vandalism offence committed 50 years ago as he perhaps gave peace too much of a chance.
MY granddaughter received from the USA a Christmas present of a pair of trainers decorated with the Peace Symbol.
Viewing these made me reflect on how this symbol has survived over the past 50 years and how widely it has become known.
The short story I am about to relate may be viewed by some with disapproval, However since this infraction was committed (naively?) 50 years ago, I assume I can confess to it with some impunity.
I first became aware of the Peace Symbol in 1960 when the US navy were about to establish a nuclear submarine Base at Holy Loch.
The symbol was already well known around the London area where an annual 52-mile Easter march took place from London by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND ) to the British nuclear weapons research establishment at Aldermaston.
The devout belief of the marchers was that Britain should unilaterally abolish its nuclear weapons, the assumption being that it would encourage other nations to follow suit, or never develop them in the first place. In Scotland an active opposition to the Holy Loch US base soon arose with the adoption of the CND symbol as the masthead. As a consequence marches were organised in addition to direct action at the Holy Loch itself.
As a young man I was totally convinced of the correctness of the CND case; thus I became involved in its marches but stopped short of direct action - almost! It was a very wet January Sunday night in 1961 when I decided under the cover of such a night to carry out a bit of unilateral action.
This entailed the painting of a slogan coupled with the CND symbol. You will see, right, that this action on the brick foundation of a demolished pre-fab on Inverkip Road, Greenock, hit the headlines in the Variorum column of the Greenock Telegraph.
Since this was on a main bus route, I felt I had struck a minor blow for the 'cause'.
The CND symbol first appeared at the 1958 Easter Aldermaston march. A close associate of Martin Luther King attended this march and imported the symbol to the US where it was used by the civil rights movement. Later it appeared in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. It was reported than some GI's daubed it on their helmets as a protest against the war.
Because the symbol was easy to draw, its use spread to other countries. For example, it appeared in Prague in 1968 when Soviet tanks rolled in, and was a common sight on the Berlin Wall.
So how did it all begin? Back in 1958, a London textile designer -- Gerald Holtom -- wanted to create a banner that could be carried on the Ban The Bomb march, a symbol which would reflect the feelings of the marchers, The Peace Symbol was created 'simply' by taking the naval code of Semaphore with the signal for N superimposed on the signal for letter D to designate nuclear disarmament.
Though the symbol was designed for the CND movement it was deliberately never copyrighted. The originators were of the belief that no one should have to pay or seek permission to use it, on the premise that "a symbol of freedom should be free for all".
Hence its appearance on my granddaughter’s trainers and innumerable other commercial applications.
Today the 'Peace Symbol' has arguably become the best known non-religious symbol on earth. However, outside of London, it almost certainly became more well-known in Clydeside in general and Dunoon in particular before the rest of the world.