The Vietnam War documentary

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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.

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Herbert Kilpin

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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.

Minsk 950

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Nottingham’s twin city is celebrating the 950th anniversary of its formal beginning.
One concert told the city’s stories, including celebrating the iconic bison that still living in the forests that surround the city.

What would Nottingham’s stories be?
A place of caves;  by-passed by the Romans; founded by a Saxon chief; made an important borough by the Vikings;  made so important by the castle built by the Normans; a seige of the castle;  supporting the crusades, the city symbol and a taste for saffron; the stories of Robin Hood becoming about Nottingham castle at the time of the printing press; deposing of a queen in the castle; Goose Fair; a palace and a garden city, with caves used for brewing;  French and Germans fleeing religious persecution bringing knowledge of lace; not supporting the king in the civil war, even if he tried to raise his standard here; resisting Royalist seige of the castle; embracing tolerance post the civil war; the Quakers starting from a protest in St.Mary’s; industrialisation; textiles and lace; wealth in the good times, slums in the bad times, and riots – “Bannertown”; campaigns for proper jobs, proper wages, proper products and the vote; the Pentrich march, burning the palace at the castle, and the Battle of Mapperley Hills; canals and caves for chemical “engineering”; clean water plants; Empire and wealth through lace; railways and national sports and Notts County & Trent Bridge; expanding the city out of its historic boundaries; art school, the art gallery in the castle; becoming a city and the end of the French and Saxon boroughs; quality pharmaceuticals, soap, cigarettes, bicycles; The Great War; the new housing estates to the north and north-west – gardens back and front; the economic depression and the building of The Council House; the Second World War; a blitz and manufacturing anti-aircraft guns; a new deal – jobs, free health care at the point of need, success for all in schools, better housing  (Clifton and slum clearance), social security; cold war and threatened total destruction; the commonwealth and immigration; confronting racism; new democratisation of local government, slum clearances and radical transport policies – “zone and collar”; Europe and twinning; Nottingham Forest and Torvill & Dean; loss of confidence in government programmes, making the market king, globalisation, loss of manufacturing and mass unemployment & deprivation; growth in night life, universities and information technology; bdy scanning and bio-technology; a return to investing in health and education; new jobs and new immigration & multi-culturalism; better buses, light rail transit and asking commuters to pay; world economic crash and slum private landlords …

The 175th anniversary of the Battle of Mapperley Hills

August 1842 —
On The Thursday (18th), 2,000 resolved in the Market Square not to work until the terms of the Charter were met.
On The Tuesday (23rd), a rally of some 5,000 supporters met on Mapperley Hills Common (most probably the area just south of the GMB offices on Woodborough Road for a rally)..
At 3pm, as they ‘sat down for their dinner’, Dragoons brandishing swords (glittering in the bright sunshine) scattered the rally, arrested 400 and marched them into town. 50 were to end up being punished severely.
The actions of the authorities were mocked, a) by the mocking term of “Battle of Mapperley Hills” (cos the ‘battle was so one-sided – soldiers on horseback with weapons) and b) with a very long poem, published a month later.
(Photos of the poem are available – https://www.flickr.com/photos/154928849@N03/sets/72157687876247666)

I’ve made a 4 minute video (sorry, I didn’t appreciate until I got home how much I was grimacing cos I was concentrating on remembering what to say).
https://www.facebook.com/me4sd/videos/10154903369716305/

A previous video is a bit rough. With thanks to contributors to Wikipedia for the improved understanding and to the Local Studies Library on Angel Row.

Colonial mentality news

Happy Independence Day, India!
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Bit disappointed that the focus of 70th anniversary in some BBC programmes is the partition rather than the end of British colonial rule in the Indian sub-continent.
Even if the canals, irrigation, railways and much else was good for the people, those assets were not mobilised to prevent massive famines; self-rule had to happen.

I saw the news coverage and it took one sentence for the story to become about the killings at partition.
It’s as if the story was – these people couldn’t cope without ‘the calming hand of we British’.
I don’t know enough about what happened, but a lot of people died in the famine of 1943, for which more should have been done; and I’m not clear about to what extent we British didn’t play up tensions between different religious groups in the years before.
So for me, the story should have been – ‘we British should have got out cos it was right and cos we got some things terribly wrong.’

One other thought – if people in the ‘south’ of the USA are tearing down statues representing an oppressive and unjust past, just what should we be doing with statues of people like Clive of India?

Track 5: “Ceremony”, Joy Division

Something of a surprise that a band attracting national attention was playing at High Hall, a hall of residence at the University of Birmingham – but a very welcome one.
A fan through listening to John Peel, I’d seen them supporting the Buzzcocks six months or so previous.
I’d gone in my usual blue Littlewoods shirt (never one for fashion), and starting swaying to the very first song – “Ceremony“.  You just got into the groove and started dancing.  I’d even hung around towards the back so I’d got space to move.
There was a bit of a commotion when the lead singer appeared to have collapsed but he came back on.
Not long after, Buzzcocks did a BBC Radio 1 live concert and my mate looked at each other slightly confused when Pete Shelley said “this one’s for Ian Curtis who died last night”.
It wasn’t until almost a week later that an NME poster made it clear to us that he was the Joy Division lead singer.  And it’s kinda how we were – you liked the music, and didn’t worry about the individuals artists; against strut. But once we knew who he was – horrible shock.
This was to be the celebrity death that had the most impact on me, and of course the story has become very well known with 2 movies (a lot of “Control” was filmed in Nottingham and Mapperley Hills) and lots of documentaries, and even one of a series of 4 posters celebrating the event – the actual poster for the night got the date wrong and black biro was used to fill in the errant number “2”.


The recording of the concert was to be the second half of a double album of collected songs, despite one of the mikes not recording the first part of the vocals of “Ceremony” at a proper level.  (I was there, but I can’t hear myself …)
Even so, it’s my favourite version, of my favourite Joy Division song.

Track 5: “Ceremony”, Joy Division, from Still album, live recording from May 2nd, 1980 at Birmingham University.

Previous track – “Making plans for Nigel”, XTC.