Nottingham Forest banners

Seven banners shown last night before the Derby County derby, showing 7 Nottingham heroes –
Brian Clough, Robin Hood, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Helen Watts, Eric Irons and Ned Ludd.
Meanwhile there was another banner across the stand celebrating Garibaldi of the red shirts fame that inspired the founders of the football club and their choice of colours.
Quite a radical choice – and not including often cited Albert Ball, Jesse Boot, Paul Smith, and less often cited Peter Mansfield and Stuart Adamson.

Forest won the derby 1-0, fine, though it turns out my Mum’s Dad supported Derby County after he moved there from the Black Country before WWI.

BTW, as explained elsewhere on the site, Forest played at a 10,000 stadium called the Town Ground, being the Town Arms pub win the city side of the Trent Bridge – home of the first crossbars used in football.
When they chose to expand – at the end of the 19th Century, Nottingham was celebrating being made into a city, so it seemed obvious to call the new ground the City Ground.
Back then the city boundary took in part of what is now regarded as West Bridgford, and only became part of Rushcliffe when a land swap gave the city land to build Clifton estate as well as Wilford village and Ruddington Lane in (circa) 1954).


Mary Queen of Scots

A worthwhile re-telling of a much rehearsed story of rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth of England.
Critical reception is not good, but seeking to outdo Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson is a heck of a challenge. Especially without the budget for crowds and showing places like medieval Carlisle properly (rather than as an isolated castle with no town).
Historical criticisms of the film include – Elizabeth and Mary never met (yep, a dramatic device), the friendship of Elizabeth and Mary is overstated, Elizabeth would not have wept as shown (can agree), Mary would have spoken with a French accent (kinda wish part of learning a language was learning to mimic the accent, so not sure); and “the tagline attached to a poster of Mary reads “born to fight”, while the tagline attached to the poster of Elizabeth reads “born to power” … it should really be the other way around”; indeed Simon Schama’s tv history was critical of Mary’s political skills.
(3 stars; e:4, s:3, p:3); Wiki; Guardian.

Rosa Luxemburg

This mid-80s German film tells the story of Rosa Luxemburg, a Pole who became a big activist for revolution in those heady early years of the twentieth century. As the First World War was about to start, Germany had elected the equivalent of our Labour Party in as a majority, but they did not have British Parliamentary powers. And they went along with the war. Rosa was notable for advocating against socialists and trade unionists supporting the war, but failed. Often held as a political prisoner (for “her own protection”), she set up Spartacus with fellow revolutionary, but they famously divided when he started a revolution in post-war Berlin when she judged working people were not ready. She joined in, but they were both arrested, clubbed and then shot, with her body thrown into a canal, days short of 100 years ago.
The movie plainly can’t afford to re-create scenes of mass crowds at rallies and in revolution. And the kinda BBC tv 70s drama style, where much of the action takes place whilst people are eating dinner at table, gives an unreal impression of who this organiser and activist must have been.
Subtitles and a foreign language diminishes the film’s impact, but I didn’t know enough of her story and realised it was meaning more to those behind me in the cinema, who were grunting with recognition at the various episodes.
(e:3; s:3; p:2)

Torvill & Dean & Bolero celebrated

Kinda knew the ITV drama on Torvill & Dean would not be great.
Some moments in their developing lives that were not worked into a strong story for the programme. The story is no “I, Tonya”. If Jayne would have stopped but for the step change that the Bolero act was to represent, and if Bolero was as Chris is shown to have claimed – their story of a love that couldn’t be – it needed to come through, and perhaps be explained in contrast to the staid styles of others that they were breaking away from. Instead, Chris cold be a bit dictatorial, slightly remarks against work colleagues who probably did have to carry them (and hey, no mention of the City Council’s support for them).
But, I knew the programme was not great, and realised, and still watched.
Yes, it’s a Nottingham story. But I’d grown attached to Bolero (the original 15 minute version) in 1977. But I watched cos following them then was an emotional experience.

The BBC tried to help with a 2014 (check) documentary (“The Perfect Day”) re-shown on Boxing Day, but its credibility was damaged by including an interview with Jeffrey Archer telling ‘a man of the people’ story.

New Labour and the new dawn

A talk by Professor Stephen Fielding on New Labour and whether 1997 heralded a new dawn.
Based on an exhibition he curated to mark the 20th anniversary of the new Labour win in 1997.
And echoing a couple of recent articles on New Labour that bewail that the current Labour can’t draw more on its successes.
The talk was good cos it avoided the hind-sighted wisdom so common amongst journalists.
A reminder too that many of us had been anti-EEC as late as 1987.   
Pertinent quotes such as Tony Blair – “Socialism for me was never about nationalisation or the power of the state, not just about economics or even politics. It is a moral purpose to life, a set of values, a belief in society, in co-operation, in achieving together what we cannot achieve alone.”  
Other pleasant memories – the defeat of Portillo.  
Good event.

A selection of elections

An exhibition on elections and electioneering in Nottingham and Notts which tells the not known enough story of the torching of Nottingham Castle as working people expressed their frustration of delays to a Reform Act which was an Act that was finally passed in 1832.
Documents on management of registers, and stuff on student union elections.
The stories of interesting election candidates.
Helena Brownsword Dowson, Secretary of the Women’s Suffrage Society in Nottingham, and the first woman Nottingham City Councillor, elected in The Meadows in 1920.
More surprising, James Morrison, elected as a Conservative MP for Nottingham East in 1910, owner of Basildon Park (so, very rich), but lauded for his work with a social security scheme in St.Ann’s and Sneinton.  Strange.
Then a Communist who stood for Mansfield a number of times.  A far more interesting story is John Peck, who was actually elected as a City Councillor in Bulwell East in the late eighties, (1987- 1997, moved to Green Party in 1990; contested 49 elections; having served in RAF bomber command in WWII).
But no mention of Feargus O’Connor, only Chartist MP ever to have been elected; or any of the Luddites and Hampden Clubs that led the revolutions and riots.
And no mention of any Labour Party candidates.
That’s when you wonder if the exhibitors have spoken to anyone local (dare I say, outside the ivory towers).

Or is it just that there were no interesting Labour Party candidates, or elections involving them?
Maybe Labour’s emphasis on collective working meant less emphasis on the individual?

Off the top, an alternative list might offer –
* 1945: the vindication of universal suffrage; and the tragedy of 1951 – losing despite winning over half the vote.
* Labour Cabinet Ministers from Notts – Don Cancannon and Geoff Hoon – though not from the city; city MPs have held Ministerial posts – Bill Whitlock, and also Graham Allen and John Heppell.
Perhaps this isn’t dramatic enough, so –
* Vernon Coaker – Labour’s best electioneer – winning Gedling when it was not expected in 1997, but holding it ever since, even in 2015 when Labour lost nationally by 7 points.
* The Ashfield by-election defeat in 1977 (which I think triggered the Lib-Lab pact) – a spectacular defeat in a safe seat when Labour held Grimsby the same day.
* Frank Higgins – local Labour council leader who pioneered radical local transport policies including “zone and collar”;
* Betty Higgins – first woman city council leader who in the early eighties doubled the city council’s rates (then a district council) to provide free bus passes for the elderly and the less mobile, that was to sustain the city bus services network that other cities lack;
* Dennis Pettitt, leader of Notts County which expanded public spending to defend those in need and the capacity of the council to deliver change; and was a D-Day veteran, co-created the first multi-racial party in Africa, was elected to Birmingham City Council where he pioneered recognition for the interests of gypsies, and campaigned for the disabled.  As Leader of Notts, he held off the councillor who’d lost the Ashfield by-election and held Labour Councillors together during the split between the UDM and NUM..

But my knowledge is limited, so I have listed elsewhere the Nottingham City Labour MPs and MEPs, sourced from wikipedia.

Damian le Bas on gypsy culture

20181114 204500 mb1090h five leaves bookshop damian le bas gypsy britainA quality meeting and worthwhile discussion at Five Leaves bookshop.
Damian le Bas, former editor of Travellers Times and author of “The Stopping Places”, talked about gypsy and traveller culture and history, drawing on readings from a couple of passages in his book.
The people are most often seen as a way life, but many are and ethnic minority, and not all of them travel.  Subject to institutional prejudice (exclusion from education in some places in Britain as late as the sixties), all sorts of matters were rehearsed in discussion.
I raised a number of issues from the visit to Victoria Embankment in the summer, to experiences in South Derbyshire in 2009 & 2010.
Leeds City appear to be the authority to look to regarding best practice by a local authority.