Red Pepper saw the practical side of Harold Pinter’s politics. Sometimes it was when he applied his skills as a director, advising on, for instance, the magazine’s launch with a public conversation between him, Noam Chomsky and John Pilger at the Almeida Theatre in Islington. Sometimes it was sheer, self-sacrificing dedication, when he turned up (not in the best of health) at bedraggled meetings in chilly rooms and rekindled enthusiasm. Sometimes it was the enjoyment of a convivial party beneath the dilapidated chandeliers of the Irish Club in Eaton Square or, with Antonia Fraser, at the celebration of our 100th issue.
Pinter had a fierce determination that was infectious. In the difficult early days of founding Red Pepper, he made Denise Searle, its first editor, feel that we had to make it work. The magazine would probably not have come into being without him. Financial support was the least of it, though he was generous when most people considered Red Pepper to be just a well-meant fantasy. He himself had no need of a further platform for his political pronouncements but he believed strongly that truth-telling journalism did.
He was quick to give us advice, to open his address book, to rally his friends, for example, when New Labour tried (unsuccessfully) to ban us from their party conference. And occasionally he wrote for us. Beautifully and passionately.
What has always struck me was his political courage and complete absence of deference. He could also be humorous in his seriousness. I remember him describing his refusal to go to the US with the warmongers in government; it was the idea of taking off his shoes for the US authorities that most disgusted him. How much he must have cheered the shoe-throwing of the Iraqi journalist the other week! Harold Pinter was a lodestar to Red Pepper. We’ll miss him, along with Adrian Mitchell and Aubrey Morris, enormously.
#229 No Return to ‘Normal’ ● Sir David King blasts the government ● State power, policing and civil rights under Covid-19 ● Hope and determination in grassroots resistance ● Black liberation and Palestine ● The future of ‘live’ ● Pubs, patriotism and precarity ● Latest book reviews ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Public spaces became increasingly valued during lockdown – and increasingly policed. We must continue to reclaim and celebrate it for everyone, says Morag Rose
Without active protection from the state, the rejected Project Big Picture is a taste of things to come for English football, argues Alex Maguire
Oli Carter-Esdale explores the weaponisation of the pint and asks: where next for the hospitality sector?
Amid global economic crisis, business is booming in the gaming industry. It's time to step up the fight for worker's rights, Emma Kinema tells Marzena Zukowska
Julie Saumagne and Sam Swann explore the links between worker exploitation and institutional elitism in the culture industry
Phoebe Kisubi reflects on using participatory theatre as a tool for social and political activism among sex workers in Cape Town, South Africa