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.

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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.

Black Boy Hotel exhibition

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Demolished in 1970 after Littlewoods bought the hotel in 1964, the hotel was designed by Watson Fothergill and opened in 1897.
People testify to how beautiful and splendid it was with the slightest prompt.
An exhibition is on at Nottingham’s Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall until the end of August and the highlight is a special model of the building as it was in the ’60s.
Displays tell the history of the hotel, including it being named after King Charles II, who had long black hair.

Dunkirk

A war movie, without the distracting love stories and over poignant speeches.
A war movie that doesn’t worry about what Churchill is saying.
A war movie that doesn’t show an enemy face until the final seconds.
A war movie that doesn’t show blood or gore.
A war movie that shows Spitfire Mark 1s in 70mm IMAX.
A war movie that shows what it was like to try to return home and try to help the evacuation.
On land, on sea and in the air.
Compelling action. Bullets zinging. Bombs exploding. Torpedoes hitting. Ships sinking. Planes duelling. combattants bracing.
A war movie, not a survival movie, even if the Director says so.

So go see Dunkirk.

The surprise – what limited dialogue there is can’t be heard very cleary – a mistake not made since “The Patriot”.  Understandable maybe if the background is explosions, but when reading a newspaper article on a train back in Blighty?
Some of the storylines are a bit misjudged (the trawler, one event on the little ship) and there’s no celebration of French efforts.

The myths of Dunkirk

dunkirk movie german map leafletaaxxxxhPromotional interviews for the movie Dunkirk keep stressing how Churchill thought the operation to bring British and allied forces out of the trapped pocket might ony save 30,000 when 338,000 were to be relieved says more about our willingness to buy such stories rather than what was actually said by British senior officers.
And the story of the little ships being brought over by their owners was also something that took off after it was penned by an American author – they were mainly sailed by Royal Navy personnel.
Worst about it all is how the role of French soldiers in enabling the evacuation is underplayed.
Then ideas that Hitler was being kind to the British – more a judgment of a British army returning home was never going to come back and there were other objectives to meet.
Nor did the Luftwaffe particularly fail – they were asked to do too much from bases too far away.
And of course there are records of British servicemen poor discipline.
As it happens, the British were planning an evacuation a few days previous and a major operation after Dunkirk brought another 190,000 personnel to Britain.
The Allies were out thought and outmanoeuvred in the Battle of France.
And debacles were to follow elsewhere, notably in Singapore.

But enough already.
Cos the point is that even once we cut through the myths and hear more of the reality, the Dunkirk evacuation was still an extraordinary effort, including the French.  Something to be proud of and to draw inspiration from.

The Journey, a modern parable

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A terrific movie that rehearses the big arguments that we should appreciate as two sworn enemies brokered the St.Andrew’s Agreement in 2006.
The Journey” takes the trip Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness made for an urgent flight after the agreement was reached.
Here, critics appear to have a wobble. For one Northern Ireland correspondent, too much disregard for the facts; the characters not sufficiently captured. For one film critic, the dramatic device of the journey being monitored by all the other key participants not adding drama. Too harsh.
A parable has been created that entertains and illuminates, and reminds us well of just what a political journey these leaders took.