Rumsey, David (1937- 2015)

A short biography of Dave Rumsey, active in Brighton Anarchist Group

David Frederick Rumsey was born in Sutton in Surrey in 1937. He was called up for National Service which he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and the 16th Parachute Brigade. His time in the armed forces moved him in a radical direction and he joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and became an anarchist.

For a while he worked as a kitchen porter in London. When I first met him in 1966-7 when he was working as a technician in the photography and graphics department of Sussex University (Jim Duke, another anarchist, worked as a laboratory technician there at the same time). Dave became a member of the Brighton Anarchist Group and his graphic design skills came in very handy for propaganda produced by the Group. He designed the masthead for Fleabite, the duplicated magazine produced by the Group and designed most of the covers for it. The first issue depicted a gargantuan Incredible Hulk demolishing the Royal Pavilion whilst uttering Bakunin’s dictum “The Destructive Urge Is Also The Creative Urge”. Among other memorable covers was one of the Bash Street Kids reincarnated as insurgent anarchists with Teacher replaced by an appalled Edward Heath. Dave also contributed cartoons to Fleabite.

I lost contact with Dave for a while but renewed our friendship when I moved to Thanet in late 1984. Attending a demonstration in solidarity with the Kent Miners (the miners strike was by then in its eight month) I spotted Dave and discovered that he was living in Herrne Bay and was actively involved in solidarity work for the miners. We met up regularly at similar events until the end of the strike. Dave had returned to activity with CND. Over the course of the years I met him regularly on demonstrations in London, including against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the NATO bombing of Serbia.. In 1995 he moved to Ramsgate and became actively involved in many civic and cultural activities there. We kept up contact through an exchange of cards over the years. I was stunned when I received a card from Wendy, Dave’s partner of 34 years standing, to inform me that he had died of a brain tumour on 11th March this year.

Dave was always a snappy and hip dresser, favouring trilby hats in his later years.Whiplash thin, he looked a little like Robert Louis Stevenson, General Custer or perhaps Freewheelin’ Frank of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers! One of Dave’s favourite quotes was from the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno: "Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible."

I still remember with great clarity the animated discussions on anarchism that he and I and Richard Miller, another founder member of the Brighton Anarchist Group, had in Dave’s basement kitchen in Brighton. I had great admiration for his maintenance of his libertarian ideas over the decades.

Nick Heath

Posted By

Apr 11 2015 07:39


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