Being a child in a mining area, during 1984-85, was a terrifying and confusing place to be. This was the Miners' Strike, when everything got turned upside down.
Just about every adult male for miles around was a miner. All of my Dad's buddies, all of my friends' fathers, wore the little blue scars that come from coal-dust getting into cuts.
Suddenly they were all being demonized on the television and in the newspapers. Things that I witnessed with my own eyes were edited out of all recognition on the evening news.
I recall being in the back-room of a Working Men's Club with all of the other children. One of the older girls was in tears. Her mother had just committed suicide under the pressure of feeding her family with no wage.
I was shocked to the core. I asked who had done this and I was told, Margaret Thatcher. There was an anger which rose in me then, which has never been extinguished. I wanted to do something. I wanted to make everything alright again.
Of course, being only twelve and newly politicized limits your options somewhat, especially since this was in the days before the internet. I flailed around for a bit in a kind of impotent rage. Then, like many pre-teens in the same situation, I turned to music.
At that time, music and politics meant one band: U2. I was listening to them at my friend Serena's house, as they performed a live concert. Memory tells me that it was Red Rocks, Colorado, in 1983, but I've since listened to that and I can't find what I'm looking for.
That was Bono screaming into a microphone, "... the work of Amnesty International!"
Even now, I can hear him saying it in my head. I heard him telling that live audience (and us) all about them. AI sounded like precisely the people to put a stop to Margaret Thatcher and to end the Miners' Strike, so I joined them. They weren't targeting her at all. Though perhaps they should have been!
But even if I had picked the wrong organization for my cause, I was there to stay. If you step back and look at it, what had just happened was me awakening a passion for fighting human rights abuses. By that measure, then I was in totally the right place.