Gari Allen is dead. How weird is that? I wish I was writing an obituary for some animal abuser and could have started off with the opening line - "Brian ____ is dead" but alas here I am writing about my old friend Gari. We go back a long time together -- right back to the crazy anarcho days of the early 80's when we first teamed up together to wage war on animal abuse. Our friendship was initially based on a mutual addiction to taking action against butcher shop windows -- it got so "bad" that I remember there was even one night when we tape recorded the sound of our activity. Eventually we came to the conclusion that to be addicted to butchers windows was rather sad and obsessional and was hardly going to lead to Animal Liberation and so we extended it to become addicted to stopping other forms of animal abuse. In later years he served two lengthy prison sentences for his part in campaigns to burn down animal hell-holes.
I will miss Gari. We are all unique in our ways but Gari was a proper one-off. If you didn't know him and are wondering if you ever met him --- if you have been to any national demos then you will have met Gari. He was the big 6 -- foot tall geezer going round with a bucket and grunting -- either collecting for prisoner support or for sanctuaries. "C'mon, woooaaaarrrghhh put your money in there, wooarggoooreear fight the bastard's, wooarrgh, woarrghhughhhughugh" "pardon?" "UGH!"
On the day of Gari's funeral the word that kept cropping up to describe him was a teddy bear -- and indeed he was a gruff teddy bear with a soft inside. On the outside he could be coarse, imposing, harsh sounding but beneath it all he was just a little softie as can be testified by all the hundreds of friends who turned up for his funeral -- all of whom he'd have helped out at some time when they truly needed it. A constant feature of Gari was that when a true crisis or emergency cropped up he could be relied on to be there to offer practical support.
He had quite a troubled childhood and fled from his home as soon as he hit his teens. He found himself alone and struggling in the big wide uncaring world-- those early experiences left their mark on him and were obviously a factor in his lifelong exterior gruffness. He detested the system with all his heart, he didn't trust human beings at their face value, he often couldn't be bothered with surface level social pleasantries and he eagerly awaited the self-inflicted wipe-out of our so called "civilisation". I couldn't adequately sum up Gari's attitude towards the human race except to say that he unconditionally and absolutely loved, with all his heart, all of non-human life!
As far as his 22 year long relationship with his soul-mate Leslie goes --..well what can I say? A few words would be meaningless. Their love and friendship speaks for itself. Our thoughts go out to Leslie. Gari left home as a kid but was welcomed into the Phipps family with open arms when he went out with Les. He went through the tragedy of Jill Phipps' death as a blood relative. The animal liberation movement is one big family and Gari will always be there as one of the family -- the big geezer in the corner, having a smoke, grunting and grumbling about some aspect of the ugliness of modern humanity or chuckling about some tabloid headline of a duck shooter accidentally blasting his best friends off or of a butcher chopping his own hand off -- he used to compile anthologies of tabloid stories dedicated to the self inflicted or accidental woes of the animal abusers -- oh how we laughed -- and what about the one where the pig farmer drowned in his own slurry pit, the fisherman getting eaten by a shark and let's not forget Barrett-Jolley - responsible for bringing the export trade of calves to Coventry Airport, getting 20 years for cocaine smuggling.
Gari was a healer -- a healer who lived amidst the slaughter of his brothers and sisters. He healed the sanitised hypocrisy of the High Street by smashing their windows and giving consumers the opportunity to think that maybe everything is not alright in shopper's heaven. He healed the land where dark animal torture facilities stood by burning them to the ground. He healed abused, caged animals by giving them the sweetest gift on earth -- LOVE and LIBERATION. In the past few years he worked tirelessly with Leslie helping feral cats and last, but not least, he became a rather good Reiki healer. If you have any "funky" spiritual beliefs then try by all means to contact Gari. He believed that there is a spirit world so if you, or anyone else, ever needs help or just want a cosmic chat then see if you can get hold of him out there in the ether somewhere. He had big shoes, to match his big presence, and no-one else is gonna come along and fill them, but who knows where he is floating around now!
A fitting epitaph for Gari would be a primeval scream of --"kick it --til it fu__ing breaks". He was a fighter -- just like his friend Barry Horne, whom he went to prison with. He was a warrior and he was also a big softie. Do something for animals in his memory. We miss you Gari -- UGH!!!