The Republic of Frestonia

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David Rappaport-Bramley interviewed on Nationwide, 1977

Martin Young interviews David Rappaport-Bramley, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the newly declared independent state in London. Broadcast on November 1st, 1977.

Transcript

Martin Young

Good evening. Tonight we report the emergence of a new nation state and ask the questions the world will need to answer. Can Hammersmith ever be the same again?


There was a time when Britain could boast she controlled 2 thirds of the world. Now, with devolution on all sides, the one thing the Foreign Office didn’t need was another UDI. Yet now there are rebellious rumblings of revolution from residents of Freston Road in Hammersmith.

Working on the theory that small is beautiful, the 120 residents have declared themselves independent of the London Borough of Hammersmith and indeed of Britain. Overnight they’ve renamed an 8 acre site of near dereliction The Free Independent Republic of Frestonia. And they’ve applied formally for full membership of the United Nations.

When we visited Frestonia this afternoon we faced no customs or passport formalities but it’s still early days yet. 

All 120 residents are involved in running Frestonia. There’s his Excellency Geoff-Gough-Bramley, the Argentinian Ambassador to Frestonia and part-time sign-writer. He’s putting the finishing touches to a sign outside the Ministry of Culture, formerly Champion Dining Rooms. 

Meet the Minister of State for Housing & Construction, unemployed Gordon Gibbs-Bramley. There’s a Minister for the Environment, who’s in charge of the National Frestonian Park and a Justice of the Peace, Carmello di Piazzo-Bramley. There’s even a Minister for Public Health and Street Cleaning; 12-year-old Caroline Yeo-Bramley.

Although Frestonia hasn’t got it’s own currency yet, she has got a national flag, designed of course by the Minister of Propaganda. The Frestonians stood by proudly as their flag was solemnly raised outside the People’s Hall for the very first time. 

Well, with me in the studio is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who has come straight from the Frestonian Foreign Office in St Ann’s Road.

Erm, David Rappaport-Bramley, this is of course a very serious political move by your residents. Er, what’s brought about this break with the United Kingdom?

David

Well the basic thing was dissatisfaction with the GLC. They planned to redevelop the area and knock down all the houses and build factories, which is against the wishes of all the people who live within the area.

Martin Young

Have you had a continuing dialogue of meaningful discussions with the GLC?

David

I wouldn’t say it’s been continuing. I’d say it’s been disjointed and er the inhabitants have been dialoguing but the GLC haven’t been listening.

Martin Young

You are of course in some ways an illegal regime since you’re actually squatters in the area at the time. Don’t you think that they might come along to evict you?

David

Erm, well we know we’re going to leave the area shortly but we’re rather proud of squatting the area because this was how Great Britain started; a Norman Conquest. Great Britain was squatted and that’s become the great nation that it is today. 

Martin Young

But supposing they do come along to evict you, which is perfectly within their rights before Frestonia is established. What will you do?

David

Well, if we get our state made legal then there could be a United Nations peace-keeping force coming in to protect us from the GLC.

Martin Young

One thing I couldn’t help noticing in researching into Frestonia today was that everybody’s called Bramley.

David

Yes.

Martin Young

Why’s that?

David

Well, the GLC have promised to rehouse all families and now we’ve formed one big family of 120 people, so we hope to be rehoused all together. 

Martin Young

So, all the Bramleys will be rehoused together.

David

Right.

Martin Young

Seriously, what do you hope to achieve from this very engaging publicity stunt?

David

Right, well there’s been a lot of effort gone into it. Really, it is one big gesture just to show that all the normal paths haven’t worked. The GLC still seem to want to build factories on this land. All the council tenants are united with everybody in the area, that they don’t want it.

Martin Young

Well, it’s an interesting story. I’m sure we’ll be following it. Thank you very much.

David

Thank you.

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