Farewell Big Pete, my fellow man.

The not at all short lived, international, Men’s AntiSexist Newsletter.

I met Pete Six properly in Chapter 2 cinema, Cardiff when we both attended a relaunch meeting of the Cardiff Men’s Group,  it was the autumn of 1980, and it was the beginning of a beautiful lifelong friendship.

We were both moderately versed in feminist thinking, both single, and fascinated by what it meant to be a “real man”.
Men’s groups in those days were often dismissed as wimpy men trying to figure out how to get their feminist friends into bed. This was more of a side effect as far as we were concerned, the main  issue was about feeling secure in our identity as men, and discovering what the hell that meant in a society where we were practically the first generation whereby war, factories and mining disasters didn’t whittle away most of our contemporaries and simplify the debate to survival and class war.

Cardiff Men’s group consisted of about a dozen men, 6 of whom were named Pete. Pete Goodridge chose to be “6” as we numbered off and Five Cram was already known as Five. Petes 1-4 are all now off my radar.
The group talked of many things, including sealing wax, (it’s potential use in male contraception), and all things to do with male identity.

Pete and I had one divergence of views. He was always for political and agitprop action, organising the “Men Against Violence Against Women” march through central Cardiff (one banner, about 30 people) and for spreading the word.
I was for all that too, but also for awareness raising amongst ourselves, effectively a psychological therapeutic exercise, the purpose of which was to better know ourselves, and thus be more effective in everything extrovert we did. He felt this was a self indulgence and called the meetings we had on those themes, “T (for therapy) and toast meetings”. This disagreement was always revisited with a smile and never led to any kind of schism or falling out.

By 1986 we had become a coordinating group of the Men’s Antisexist Newsletter (pictured above) formed Creches Against Sexism, which ran creches for Women’s Aid groups, including the Welsh Women’s Aid national conference, over a long weekend in Builth Wells. We also had some uplifting and enlightened sessions of self discovery that I credit with making all of us better potential (or actual) life partners as well as individuals.

Cardiff Men’s Group faded, and morphed – a new version of a similarly named group, of which I was a member, organised annual conferences in Cardiff, with some success, right through to the late 1990s.

All through this time visits to Pete’s were a basic part of my social life. Not so much since my move away to Gloucestershire, though I did manage to get him to come with me to an Arcade Fire gig in Cardiff Arena not so long back, but I never thought he would cut our relationship short at the age of 61, with that damned dodgy ticker that he always swore would be the death of him before he ever claimed the state pension.

Several from the Cardiff men’s group were in attendance, on the longest, hottest day of 2017, to lay Pete’s body to rest in a beautiful natural burial meadow near Usk.
Many swifts were making frantic patterns overhead but under the hottest sun, over 400 people, dressed appropriately for the summer, witnessed his family and friends perform a joyous humanist service that he had actually designed.

I could say more – and he could say much more than that, but right now, I can’t. Life is now missing one huge character,
Big hearted Pete.

 

 

 

 

 

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