The Derbyshire Boot and Shoemakers’ Strike

This was the longest British dispute that women were involved in.

As we reflect upon the history we inherit and the torch that we picked up, reflect upon how people in the villages of Stoney Middleton and Eyam went on strike for more than 2 years to be paid the rates for works paid elsewhere, to be represented by a trade union and to have blacklisting lifted on anyone who had organised for the union.

Can we really compare ourselves to these champions of social justice?

One new mantra – the rich are never numbered but are named; the poor are always numbered but never named – so let us resolve to celebrate those who straggled by name.

The struggle was celebrated in the local villages in April, 2018.

Cringing Embarrassment

A BBC production company in charge of printing this year’s proms, considered what to do about the “Last Night”, which in contrast to a season of musical concerts listened to in reverent silence, has singing and others interruptions, especially to songs considered to be patriotic. They also considered in the light of Black Lives Matter, and the protests about aspects of Empire, whether some of the ones should just be dropped.
They resolved to keep the songs for the future, when the audiences would be back to sing them to sing them, but to perform instrumentals versions this year.
A political fuss kicked off. The Prime Minister said “I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general fight of self-recrimination and wetness. I wanted to get that off my chest.

Now I think Land of Hope and Glory proclaiming we shall never be slaves does kinda dismiss the history of an Empire that was built in so many ways through the enslavements of millions, even if Britain did then pioneer the drive to stop the trading of slaves – using legislation written by William Wilberforce while he was living in Wilford, Nottingham – and that with huge reparations for slave owners who lost out financially.
But here, our latest political principle – the John Hume political principle of respect the differences in traditions – kicks in and move on cos what is to be gained by trying to ban such a song, even if we were trying?

Cos the cringing is about our present.

No doubt, once the fuss of this decision has calmed down, then we shall have the other myths of wanting to ban the poppy (even though those who fought, fought for our freedom to wear one or not; and actually many people do not wear it, which I happen to think is a bit disappointing) and that references to Christmas are to be banned (even if the holiday is firmly based upon replacing earlier version of the celebrations created to cheer us all up as we entered Winter). Note the ironies, respect the differences, and move on. (And yes, I did once switch on the city’s Christmas lights.)

But one last thought on “Land of Hope and Glory’. Its popularity took off during World War I and its author came to profoundly regret that it had become an anthem to war. No higher form of self-recrimination than that.

Thomas Henry Edwards

Thoughts on VJ Day with my family in Australia, the head of whom, Thomas Henry Edwards, was killed in Singapore by the Japanese in 1942.
Rather struck at how much information is available publicly compared to the relatively poor supply of information for British soldiers.
I’d never thought to ask before, but it seems he was a runner who demonstrated bravery for the British army in 1919 (putting himself at risk just one week before the armistice; and runners are the soldiers featured in the movie 1917).
One of his grand-daughter says “I really think my grandfather must have been an adventurer as he was so intent on doing risky things. He died, I believe, doing and believing in his country.

Although his name is Edwards, I’m actually related through his wife, who was the sister of my Dad’s Mum. Both women married a Thomas Edwards.
Both my grandfathers served in WW1, but my dad and his siblings were too young to serve in WWII.
No doubt lots of people are today thinking of those who served, those who were injured and those who were in some way disabled.
BTW, the South Shropshire village referred to, where my Dad was born, Diddlebury, is actually pronounced differently – Del-boro (like my village Hanwood – often pronounced Anud).

75th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima

We should take a moment to remind ourselves of the need for a world free of nuclear weapons.
– – – – – – – –
The explosion in Beirut must be one of the very few massive explosions in a city captured so dramatically on video.
To know that so many people were being injured in those seconds. And to see the damage to people’s homes, livelihoods and supply networks. Arresting. Actually breathtaking. 

Hiroshima after the first use of a nuclear bomb against an enemy.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. That explosion was 10 times larger. And we know there is no film of it happening from the ground. 

Rationalised by saving the lives of soldiers who were to be sent into Japan to topple the cruel regime. And seen as an advance given the effort it took the RAF and the USAAF to bomb cities driving the war effort of the Nazi regime. 

And for some time after I’d hear the argument that if you were gonna go, you might as well go without knowing about it. 
or other arguments such as living 5 miles from a city centre was enough to know that you could work out how to survive the blast.
It might be reassuring to know that documentaries of the Cuba crisis are now showing how hard both parties sought to avoid a war, once they realised what they’d set up. But there were moments when it could have started against the wishes of the leaderships, and indeed even when the crisis was thought to have passed its peak. 

There have been 2 other close calls – one very accidental.

But what current opinion fails to grasp is the sheer scale of destruction that can be unleashed so quickly. 
And that the explosions won’t just destroy the immediate areas, but that the resultant debris in the air blocks the sunshine and kills off all human life (the nuclear winter).

Depressing then to have heard one Labour MP in recent years bewail a disadvantage in tactical nuclear weapons (mines, or fired from cannons); and to hear only this week that our government is pressing the USA for new kinds of warheads for our fleet. 

We should mark Hiroshima, and Beirut, and even Dresden.
But what we need to convey is that nuclear conflagration is of such a different order. That it kills everyone. That the threat of it is expensive to sustain. That the potential to trigger it without design is there (just look at the leaderships we’ve ended up with, although granted, not the mass murderers of 1945). 

Persuading people of the need for change is hard to do. 
We perhaps needed a John Hume to get leaders to tackle mutual and confident building and significant steps to make much more substantial progress.

Animal Farm: the graphic novels

Animal Farm “featured at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels.” Yep, and I’ve bought a graphic version of it.
One reviewer says it’s the first graphical version, but that’s not true – Ralph Steadman did a version in 1995.
Says something of the power of the book, that I remember bits that aren’t featured in this version – e.g. the return of religion through the crow.
The story remains unbearably sad, or depressing.

Mind you, could do with George Orwell now, to write about Trump and Johnson; or maybe the nature of financial markets.

Ken Fleet

Ken Fleet on a European nuclear disarmament demonstration in Brussels, 1981.
Photo from Tony Simpson and the Guardian.
I happened to be at that demo, but travelled with colleagues from Birmingham.

Ken Fleet organised many of the radical groups run from Nottingham, along with Ken Coates, that gave Nottingham such a radical reputation in the eighties.
Always pleasant to talk with.
Tony Simpson has written an obituary, published in The Guardian.

Extract of obituary written by Tony Simpson.

UK travel vlog of Nottingham by Renata Pereira

The second of two vlogs on Nottingham; published December 2018.
The first – is Nottingham real? – focussed on the castle and around.

Seen a few Vlogs on Nottingham now, and a number of its viewers have said this one is worth watching.
Of course, I’m sensitive to what is missed – the radical history of Nottingham, its sports history, the night life (tens of thousands at the weekends), the cultural offer – and the repaired building featured is better known as the offices of our best ever architect. If given the chance, might have recommended other restaurants.
Not allowed to film in some of our attractions, where the tours are a key part of their business, but photo presentation was a good substitute.

History of Broad Marsh by NottsFlix

The Broadmarsh shopping centre regenerates; the video author is a Doctor Who fan.

Ran into this 3 part video history series after seeing a travel vlog.
Written and presented by Michael, of Nottsflix, and published in 2018 and 2019, this is a pretty impressive effort if, as claimed, this was his first attempt. It tries to be light-hearted.
I’m not an historian so can’t know is everything is right, but it seemed pretty compelling to me.
A history of the Broadmarsh shopping centre, starting with what Broad Marsh itself was, how it was known to be a monastery, how it was taken over for various trades, how living conditions came to be so intolerable despite the wealth being generated in the city, why the shopping centre came about and why it has the brutalist architecture (albeit, 3rd wave, muted brutalist architecture).
Michael has also found letters from the protestors against the shopping centre being built, although seems a little unclear as why the council was so keen (suggesting something dark and underhand).
Not sure. One of the losses that at one stage the early and much more ambitious proposals for regeneration wanted to re-instate was the previous city streets plan for that area (although that was also compromised by Maid Marian Way. That optimistic time was first publicly promoted I think in 1997, but the scale of the proposals was huge, and the then owner Westfield, had other projects, e.g. Derby’s shopping centre, that were easier to do and so done first.

Meanwhile – look the videos up –
The Shopping Centre with Too Much History | Broadmarsh #1 | Nottsflix History (November 2018)
The Shopping Centre with A Dark Past | Broadmarsh #2 | Nottsflix History (March 2019)
The Shopping Centre Rises | Broadmarsh #3 | Nottsflix History (August 2019)

Clement Attlee came to power 80 years ago

The Labour statesman Clement Attlee (1883-1967). He was Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Since local elections generally take place between the 1st and 7th May, it’s been quite a time for my Labour Councillor friends, celebrating their anniversaries as Councillors.
And why not? Available every waking hour and seeking to implement a free society with no unjustifiable inequalities to help the many rather than just a few from a council and ward level.  
On Friday, we were invited to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, but the signs are that we’ll be invited to think of in terms of veterans from the armed forces rather recalling the wider efforts of the people, their long hours, low rations and extra duties that put more of them in jeopardy.  
Through experience of a planned economy and consideration of the previous inequalities in health care, and wealth and employment (especially in the ’30s), people came to want more; and voted for it on 5th July.  
So on Sunday, 26th July, we can celebrate the 75th anniversary of Clem Attlee and the Labour government coming to power. The day when Britain “won the peace”.
And as a friend recently pointed out, we overlook the contribution of Labour to organising the delivery of victory.

So this Sunday, we can celebrate the 80th anniversary of Clem Attlee and Arthur Greenwood joining the government. Viewers of the “Darkest Hour“, broadcast for the first time on BBC tv, can be forgiven for wondering who Clem was, if they didn’t ready know. The dialogue he had was for a debate that Arthur led on, and in which Churchill gave the government case – instead the film showed an empty seat with a hat on (laughable).