A book from Edwardian times comprising of a series of articles on cities and towns along the Great Central Line, with 4 pages on Nottingham’s history and the offices, platforms and yards of the freight operations along Queens Walk.
Scans of the pages are available. Interesting insights into the industries of “Nottingham – the Capital of the Lace World”.
A pleasure to attend a “celebration of a generation”., to speak and to represent Lilian Greenwood MP at the event and at the emergency Windrush surgery in April, during a crisis which saw a Home Secretary fall.
“Celebrating the heroes and heroines of the Windrush Generation that laboured in the NHS,factories, brought up families, whch contributed to the civic and cultural life of the UK.” The celebration included stories, poetry and songs.
A pleasure to be asked to speak but had to be wary, as a football fan, of being asked to pick out a group of people, especially after a 6-1 victory, when football fans lose perspective and see yourselves as part of some kind of super race.
A super race that now includes Danny Rose, Fabian Delph, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young, Keiran Trippier, Dele Alli, Marcus Rashford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard.
My, how England has changed! Huge since our own Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play a full international for England.
So much has already been said about the African-Caribbean community centres and the various people who have played big roles. Such as Eric Irons, the first black local magistrate, and Milton Crossdale who played a big role in the City Council. Currently we have 6 black city councillors – Leslie Ayoola, Merlita Bryan, Marcia Williams, Patience Ifediora, Corral Jenkins and Eunice Campbell. Previous City Councillors – Hylton James, Des Wilson, Tony Robinson and Ron Mackintosh. And George Powe – the first local black Councillor, who served on the County Council.
There is so much to say about so many, so to narrow the scope, let’s explore who helped when I was Lord Mayor?
The All-Stars: performed at the Lord Mayor’s Ball, which had a Caribbean theme; and at the Carnival in The Meadows, along with
The Ancestors: the local St.Kitts & Nevis masquerade troupe; launched with an event a Queens Walk Community Centre and took over the Lord Mayor’s parade;
The National Black Archive and Panya Banjoko: celebrating the overlooked achievements of black servicemen and reminding us of their commitment and service with a black poppy and a black poppy wreath;
Merlita Bryan and the Black Achievements awards;
ACNA: with their own 40th anniversary and celebrating Jamaica’s independence and 55th Anniversary;
Bishop James Stapleton: served as Lord Mayor’s Chaplain; introduced me to Psalm 133 – unity is a wonderful thing; and a member of the Windrush Generation;
Jane Jeoffrey: secretary of Queens Walk Community Association, member of The Ancestors, read a prayer at the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carol service and a member of the Windrush Generation.
And whose voice was so alike the lead in Shebeen; from which the romance between the young black man and white woman brought to life what George Powe and Jill Oswald must have gone through in Nottingham’s 1950’s.
One last thought – from Lenny Henry’s Mum. Will never forget it. Cos Lenny Henry said it so clearly. What disappointed her so much on her arrival in Britain was the lack of respect.
Respect is one of Nottingham’s watchwords. So let’s show it and keep on showing it.
Another hit from the Nottingham Playhouse, and another Nottingham story. Go see.
This time, the late fifties in St.Ann’s and Caribbean immigrants have developed their own shebeens – illegal drinking events in homes – where they get to enjoy their favourite music with their favourite drink and the profits stay within friends.
A proud, devoted young couple, who never lie to each other, who have strong respectful codas and precious possessions. Fashions of the fifties and accents that I hear so often in The Meadows.
So many issues rehearsed in the preparation for another party, the party itself and in the aftermath, being strong on what theatre can be strongest at – conversation.
Most powerful issue – that of reactions to mixed race relationships. (Bringing back memories of George and Jill).
I’ve been invited to listen to a Radio 4 programme, recently re-broadcast, “How to Remember“.
Contentions include that the significance of the nation-state and the impact of globalisation should change what or how we commemorate.
One of the central tenets – that we remember the sacrifices of those that went before us, by the way we live, politically I kinda live by.
From after WWI – Homes for heroes (and everyone else), votes for all.
From after WWII – free health care, full employment, proper jobs, success for all in education, social security, including those the elderly and the less mobile.
From struggles at home – A representative democracy.
From struggles everywhere – A free society. An extension of which for me would be freedom from barbarity on social media. The common wealth. Public amenity.
Presumably what we haven’t yet fought a war for is the environment and the climate, but we should campaign for green measures too.
And some change came without so much struggle – clean water supplies and proper sewers came cos the wealthy and powerful could die from cholera as well as the poor and powerless.
I’ve published blog entries and made speeches on a number of these aims and achievements, as well as precis of the history of Nottingham.
(The first working class library in Nottingham. The Chartists campaigning on Mapperley Hills Common. The Cheese Riots. One surprise this last year was the photo of the Lord Mayor meeting the International Brigade in 1939 which may see a postcard being produced.) (I’ll try to add more links to these later.)
The stories are mainly written somewhere, and the local studies library can be very helpful in finding the stuff, and this is now the era when the stories are being published in easily accessible form – video, audio and text.
My contentions on how to commemorate would be –
– get stories published on the internet, so that they are quickly accessible;
– tie stories on the internet to location, so that you don’t need plaques;
– remember all who served (put themselves at risk), and not just those who lost their lives; kinda tricky to do well cos no such lists exist;
– develop the stories behind the names – like Eddie has done from those in the freight railway plaque at Nottingham station, or the pamphlet on the Sherwood Foresters sent to the Easter Rising;
– participate in events such as Remembrance Sunday, but also history walks and recreations (such as the Pentrich Revolution march);
– respect the reality, and pay proper respect to the event and to the visual amenity.
Now given some millions in today’s money was spent on Nottingham’s memorial, I was sceptical of what a £300k addition for the sake of listing all the names of those who lost their lives could achieve. But I think the options developed are worthy and warrant installing in the nearby gardens. I wanted option 1, but it is too expensive given the limits announced. It’s understood that the large poppy will be better in reality than as portrayed. And the additional memorial doesn’t stop us from doing the social media publishing.
So I support the additional memorial.
We remember the extraordinary skill of pilots that flew Lancasters at low-level, and the crews who delivered a new kind of mine to destroy dams that powered and supplied the Nazi war machine.
53 were killed; 40% of those who took part.
A year of 372 events is bound to be distinctive, and memorable.
And there are a lot of people I have to thank for their interest, kindness, care and support.
But how to view being Lord Mayor – as an honour, or as a role, or as a mix?
I always saw it as a role, but had to be mindful of those, including colleagues, friends and family who saw it as an honour.
The volume of events kinda underlines why we have civics, cos Councillors who hold extra responsibilities are kinda busy already.
Most common question – was I enjoying it? I know it’s small talk but I alway felt the need to answer that when people are welcoming, kind, and offer you food and sometimes presents and entertainment, it’s kinda ungrateful and almost inhuman to say no.
Never asked, but more pertinent, was I helping people enjoy the event? Well, I tried, although humour and conduct are sometimes difficult things.
Entertainment included Council House tours, asking visitors to play the roles of Portfolio Holders and even a Mexican wave in the Council Chamber.
Celebrating people’s stories, and Nottingham’s stories, I did see as important. Videos available from the internet were very helpful in this regard, cos they are often the right length and show how to pitch a story. Noticeable too, how there a lot more Nottingham story videos to be made.
Favourite stories told included – the citizenship speech (including how Nottingham was changed by people who came from afar and changed us); the cheese riots; the Pentrich Revolution; the needle-maker leader; European squash; Goose Fair; fun fair organisers; corporate sports; spiders; BBC Radio Nottingham; twinning with Minsk; indoor bowls; reasons to be proud of Poland.
Solemn statements too – in the wake of terrorist attacks; standing up to anti-Semitism.
And more of an innovation – singing the Robin Hood tv series theme tune, often with Cllr Glyn Jenkins as Sheriff, at Goose Fair, the corporate games, with Chinese students, and Malaysian, and in Minsk and in Glasgow.
I’ve loaded a lot of Lord Mayor related photos from my camera – 5,906 – onto Flickr, viewed perhaps 200,000 times. Thanks to Paul in particular, who took a lot of them. This lordmayormike account in turn fed the Twitter account.
Not all of it was a success.
(The Christmas Service didn’t quite go to plan; and I didn’t think that a General Election would be called within the year.)
Whilst I’d do more and different things with another year, I’m more than happy to have finished my year and look to do different things.
And now some thanks,
to Sue, my Mum, the family, to those who were Lady Mayoress for an event – Bel, Asiya, Nisha, Kelly even Nicole, to those who supported church events – Bishop James, Pat, Jane; and to staff.
To community leaders who held events – ACNA, Indian Community Centre, the Polish school – and Meadows community leaders (who brought their own banner to the parade). To the organisations that did stuff including the Council House Tea Dances and the Rotary Club & their phenomenal anti-Polio campaign – and those who organised very special trips – the East Midlands University ATC and the City of Minsk,
To the charity for the year – Nottingham Central Women’s Aid, a refuge – especially Aimi McCaffery, who organised a charity ball to be very proud of, attended by Samantha Morton. Around £5,500 was raised.
To Councillor Glyn Jenkins, who as Sheriff of Nottingham, and to Cheryl, who were very supportive and beyond their duties, had to show quite a bit of patience.
WRITE-UP STILL TO BE UPDATED.
On being Lord Mayor
Representing the many but in an individual role; with general expectations, but potential to be very individual.
Most starkly, a range from it being an honour to playing a role.
Even as a role, the first citizen, who decides you are “first”?
Many clearly deny permission for that concept either by not inviting or by looking away.
At it plainest, attending an event on behalf of 300,000 people, it having been deemed an event is worthy of such support .
The concept of it being non-political can be very confusing, since you have to be party political to hold it. The existence of party politics being the definition of living in a free society.
My coda –
to represent the people and the council of Nottingham,
to celebrate and promote the city (mindful of the special role of the Sheriff),
its widely held values of living in a free society, and
the rights and responsibilities that come with it, and
to exemplify those values through stories and history of its achievements
both widely shared and more distinctive;
by chairing the Council
to enable representative democracy to work and to be seen at its best,
by representing the people and the council
through friendships and
designed for exhibition of mass shared values, experiences and commitments, and
to add value to these ceremonies and at other events
by way of entertaining, education and informing, and
to champion a charity and
to communicate progress and participation, including through social media.