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‘BEFORE THE REVOLUTION’: Radlett poet releases memoir about former life in Iran

 Published on: 17th June 2024   |   By: Sophia Sheera   |   Category: Uncategorized

Renowned for his lyrical anecdotes about Radlett life, only a few residents will know that Paul Blakeley’s artistic output is in no way limited to his famed poetic musings.

In fact, the self-proclaimed Radlett Poet has just released a memoir about the two years he spent living in Iran during the 1970s, before the revolution that reshaped Iran’s identity.

Before the Revolution paints a picture of Iran quite unlike portrayals of the country seen in today’s Western media. Paul and his family moved to the capital city, Tehran, after Paul was invited to relocate for work. They ended up staying in Iran for two-and-a-half years.

Speaking to RADLETTnews, Paul shared: “I’m very nostalgic about Iran and the way it was when we lived there. I appreciate that it was some 40 years ago when we left Tehran, but I don’t recognise the Iran we hear about today.”

In 1979, widespread protests saw the Pahlavi dynasty overthrown and the founding of a theocratic state. Where Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had forged strong relations with the Western world, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – who seized power during the revolution – helped to rebrand the country as an anti-Western state.

“People ask me what it was like to live in Iran during the 70s,” shared Paul. “They ask me, ‘Does that mean you didn’t drink alcohol?’ When I was in Tehran, you could go to the supermarket and buy vodka for £1.50 a bottle. It was a secular country then, and like here people chose for themselves whether they wanted to drink alcohol or not.”

As a member of the expat community, Paul attended embassy parties and even recalls seeing the former ruler of Iran drive by in a Rolls Royce in front of hordes of waving people.

“I think that releasing this memoir is a timely thing to do,” mused Paul. “When Iran is mentioned, you only ever hear about the bad. But in my memory, all the people of Iran want is peace and prosperity.”

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many of Paul’s friends left the country, although not all were able to do so. One client of Paul’s was executed after the revolution, whilst an architect whom Paul knew spent many years in Evin Prison.

“We’re still in contact with friends from that period to this day,” he said. “I loved the country and its people.”

Before the Revolution is available to buy on Amazon.

Photo Credit: Paul Blakeley

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