Screenshot (848) ab0772h Nottm Playhouse Wonderland
“Best show I have ever see ” – a mate.
And some people really felt it.
Go see.
And if the Nottingham Playhouse was set up to tell Notts stories, this certainly does that.

The Government setting up the miners to force a strike.  Then fouling up the closures to be announced.  An uncontrolled union response leaving no space to call a ballot and starting the strike after the winter.   Notts miners feeling by-passed and a split results.  And so much more.

The play convincingly conveys the sense of heat down the pit.  Visuals are often excellent.  One or two brilliant jokes.  Certainly not just one perspective.

Perhaps some of the political analysis needed a bit longer conversation and less vernacular.
Can’t all be covered but when NACODS almost struck is omitted and the wives and the women against pit closures is only referred to.
Don’t get the title.

International Brigade celebrated in Old Market Square in 1939

IMG_2710a LM AldJB 1938 39 album 08 International Brigade (c) Jackie Clark scan O18021915300 ab2993h
The Lord Mayor of Nottingham meeting and greeting the International Brigade on Wednesday, 1st February, 1939.
79 years ago.
Amazing photo – determined faces, big coats – and a beret.
The famous “Quince Brigade“.  Viva!
Note, Barcelona had just fallen in the Spanish Civil War and the U.K. was to recognise the Franco regime 26 days later.
IMG_2839 cj4318h Nottm Guardian 19390203 p01 International brigade and pictureThe event pictured was part of the food campaign tour and the photograph was published in the Nottingham Guardian, on Friday, 3rd February.
Click on or download the graphic to read the article.
(Thanks to Stuart Walsh who has taken the trouble to write – “This was part of the International Brigade Convoy, which went all over UK in January-February 1939 raising money for a foodship to Spain …”.)

Photo courtesy of Jackie Clark, descendant of the then Mayor, Ald. J. Baldwin, and copyright holder.  The Nottingham Guardian presented the retiring Mayor a photo album with 39 splendid photos (crude photos of each page available here).

I had wrongly thought it might be a welcome home for those who served –  26 volunteers went from Notts to serve.  If they were 35th Division, it’s likely that they’d fought at the Battle of Ebro, staving off superior nationalist forces, which included the Nazi Condor Legion..

Darkest Hour

There was a time when I would repeatedly watch the repeat episodes of “World at War”, until I got fed up with the Allies’ failures.  (Norway, France, Singapore, North Africa, Dieppe.)
The interview that stuck was from episode 2 by Jock Colville, a civil servant, who explained how Chamberlain, Halifax and Churchill met in the Cabinet Room and Chamberlain asked Churchill if he saw any reason why a Lord couldn’t be Prime Minister and Churchill just stared out of the window, cos he knew it was a trap.  Screenshot (816) ab0466h wiki Norway debate
In the same episode, Boothby explained the “Norway debate” and how in essence, many MPs had been frustrated with Chamberlain not wanting to take the war with the Nazis.  Labour played a key role in pushing the issue once the problems with the British operation in Norway had been grasped, despite Churchill putting up a big defence of his operation in the debate.  They pushed for a vote and too many Conservatives did not support Chamberlain.

darkest hour commons debatechurchill vchurchill with mps
So the dramatic start “Darkest Hour“, with Churchill not attending the “Norway debate” was annoying, and the film kept taking these kind of liberties.
Fighting over the leadership after Churchill had been made P.M., the military chiefs having no plan on the Dunkirk evacuation, the King giving Churchill the backbone to carry on refusing to make a deal with the Nazis, Churchill holding a focus group in a London Underground carriage, Churchill meeting with MPs in a large stairwell, Chamberlain wiping his forehead being mistaken for a signal..
Regarding the history, one example of the criticism – by The National Review.
I never doubted Gary Oldman as Churchill, or his interpretation of Churchill as a livelier character than other clichéd portrayals of him as miserable.
But in this movie, politicians are quick to dispute, rather than talking things through.

So what to take from the movie?  The performances.  The scenery, especially the high tiered Commons chamber of the time. The importance of Parliament.  Bringing form to the “Blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech.
But the movie is probably unfair on Churchill cos he did know his own mind, and hey, I don’t rate Churchill – Taff Vale, Gallipoli, the 1926 strike, the Gold standard, famines in India, and the foul-ups in WW2.
Graphic from wiki.


Operatives’ Library No. 1

As the new hub of Nottingham College is being designed for the Narrowmarsh, I have claimed how this was a kind of “education coming home” as Sussex Street hosted the first Operatives’ Library in the city in the 19th Century in the Rencliffe Arms.
Screenshot (770) ab0537h Rancliffe Arms
It’s possible that my melodramatic claim for it being the first working class library in the world may not be sustainable.
Our Local Studies Library reports – “According to “The Operatives Libraries of Nottingham: A radical community’s own initiative” by Peter Hoare which has been my main source of information there were at least 12 operative libraries mainly based in public houses in working class areas. … Operative[s] libraries were formed partly to enable the working class to access books on political and religious matters that were not available through other types of libraries.
Please find attached a scan from Peter Hoare’s work. It would suggest that the first operative library was based in the Rancliffe Arms in Sussex Street and was founded in August 1835 by W. Brooksbank . The reference to John Blackner is interesting as we hold copies of his “History of Nottingham” from 1815 in the library.”

Note, planning permission has been granted for  a new highway linking Cliff Road and Canal Street at the site of Popham Court, Popham Street (16/00090/PFUL3).
The development will result in the construction of a new street that will need to be formally named by the Council. The road in question is unofficially referred to as ‘New Popham Street’ as it will be built to replace Popham Street ready for the development of the new college on the land that is currently being used as a temporary car park for the Broadmarsh. The construction of the new road is scheduled to be completed in April 2018.

The Vietnam War documentary

The Vietnam War poster lvscwej (2)
Telling the story of a war that figured so heavily in the news broadcasts of my childhood.
The war kinda feels other worldly in an era in which opposition forces are taken out by drones.

The TV documentary series by WETA-TV and Florintene Films is compelling.  You learn so much.  (Note, it cost $30 million to make.)
The piece on the memorial was just one of the special pieces.
Ditto, the napalm attack that caught innocent children.
The point blank execution on camera of a Viet Cong agent during the Tet offensive.
A reminder that the North Vietnamese communists could be cruel too.
John Kerry’s testimony on Capitol Hill.
(It’s possible that bits were missed out – e.g. peace initiatives in the early sixties.  Possbilby a tad harsh on the new regine given what they followed, and that they were to throw out the Khmer Rouge.)

So much to take in, but just one excerpt especially pertinent to today …
Episode 5 showed John McCain being interviewed by a French journalist having been shot down in Vietnam, ejected too low from a plane out of control, broken 3 limbs and having them reset without painkillers.
In the interview, his voice is trembling. He was interviewed because he was the son of a US General in charge of their military in Europe.
He was beaten up afterwards, because he had not been grateful enough to his captors on film.
Years later, he was to be ridiculed, told heroes don’t let themselves be captured and only recently, mocked cos of the physical symptoms he has as he is fighting cancer.
America, get a grip.


Herbert Kilpin

171022T Herbert Kilpin Lord of Milan ab0662h
On the centenary of his death, a shop front on Mansfield Road where Herbert Kilpin was born was dedicated to the Nottingham lace worker and footballer who founded AC Milan.
In the evening, a documentary “Lord of Milan” was released.
And from that film it’s clear that AC Milan wear red and black stripes, cos that what Herbert wore when he played for Notts Olympic.


Our Lady and StPatrick’s 150th anniversary

Celebrating the catholic church that had first been built in The Narrowmarsh just by London Road island, and then built anew in The Meadows just off Robin Hood Way, the Bishop attended a special service and blessed a celtic-style cross that had been fashioned out of the fallen lime tress from Queens Walk.
Featured is resident and former work colleague, Mary Brown, and some of her family, her son having made the cross.