When I heard about Anita Roddick’s death from a brain haemorrhage I felt a strange, sad twinge, almost as if I’d lost a work colleague. I had only recently met her for the first (and sadly last) time in late June. Red Pepper editor Hilary Wainwright, publisher Fiona Osler and I had been invited to her riverside apartment a stone’s throw from the Millennium Bridge to discuss our funding appeal to the Roddick Foundation. While prepping our pitch at a cafe around the corner I was forewarned about her blunt, bullish nature and was a little bit nervous, hopeful yet wary. But I needn’t have been.
It’s true Anita didn’t beat around the bush. The built-up tension was instantly diffused the moment we walked into her bright, über-cool pad. She greeted us with a sprightly grin, declared with her trademark no-nonsense style that the grant was ours and then went off to get us some juice from her fridge.
When she rejoined us at her kitsch kitchen table with drinks in tow I had the chance to survey her at close quarters. She was surprisingly petite for the pioneering tour de force that she was and she looked much older and frailer than the Body Shop promotional images of the 1990s. The hepatitis C had taken its toll on her physical appearance but it hadn’t won the battle with her mental acumen, willfulness and passion.
After the initial pleasantries and introductions we got down to business. I was impressed. The questions came thick and fast: this was a woman on top of her game. While Fiona Osler summarised our expenditure I could see her mentally assessing whether the figures added up – it was like watching a one-woman Dragon’s Den.
Once the accounts were out of the way she switched gear to the editorial content and offered a spectrum of ideas, including a photo-reportage on ethical tourism and extended arts coverage with a focus on political theatre and public art installations. ‘Who owns public space?’ she mused. She also suggested regular columns highlighting social enterprises. At one point she went off and came back with a beautiful coffee table book, The Design of Dissent by Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic. Flicking through it she gestured towards the iconic leftfield illustrations to inspire the Red Pepper revamp.
She also touched on subjects for investigation, such as the British American Project, a neo-con think-tank that had apparently been invited to Sheffield University for a talk on faith and justice. The brainstorming session concluded on the sickening global trade in human organs. A particularly poignant topic as Anita had told us that she would probably need a live transplant herself within the next two years. It seemed typical of her character that she was the one to broach the subject of her illness; when she did so she was trademark matter of fact.
When the scheduled 90 minutes was up we propositioned Anita about a continuing involvement with what Red Pepper is doing: she was happy to agree. I suppose this wasn’t unexpected because Anita’s whole career and ethos went beyond money. On saying our goodbyes I felt an impulse to hug the reigning ‘Queen of Green’. Her generosity, involvement and warm exuberance that day in June had re-energised our spirits for the new, redesigned Red Pepper magazine and website.
To put it bluntly, we couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you for being on board Anita.
Hepatitis and Anita
In an article, \’Hepatitis C and me\’, written for the Hepatitis C Trust website in February 2007, Anita Roddick wrote that: ‘In a way, campaigning with the Hepatitis C Trust is business as usual for me. I’ve always felt that “activism is my rent for living on this planet” and I’ve always wanted to celebrate and protect the human body.’
Read the whole article here: \’Hepatitis C and me\’
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry