Screenshot (848) ab0772h Nottm Playhouse Wonderland
“Best show I have ever see ” – a mate.
And some people really felt it.
Go see.
And if the Nottingham Playhouse was set up to tell Notts stories, this certainly does that.

The Government setting up the miners to force a strike.  Then fouling up the closures to be announced.  An uncontrolled union response leaving no space to call a ballot and starting the strike after the winter.   Notts miners feeling by-passed and a split results.  And so much more.

The play convincingly conveys the sense of heat down the pit.  Visuals are often excellent.  One or two brilliant jokes.  Certainly not just one perspective.

Perhaps some of the political analysis needed a bit longer conversation and less vernacular.
Can’t all be covered but when NACODS almost struck is omitted and the wives and the women against pit closures is only referred to.
Don’t get the title.

Bus services still need support

BBC graphic on DfT transport data DWK8p6sWsAAvy0j aa1001hMore information about the statistics found in a BBC report which analysed DfT figures about bus usage across the country.
Nottingham has seen an 8.1% increase in the number of bus miles since 2013/14 as is one of only 28/88 authorities that have seen an rise. There was a slight decrease in the number of overall passengers over the same time period (-0.2%) but this does not take into account the tram extension, so although bus passenger numbers fell slightly public transport usage is still on the rise.

Nottingham Post coverage


Lilian and Toby at NeMTRA

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Lilian covered –
celebrating votes for women; impact of women MPs; being chair of the Transport Select cttee.; preparing to clean air; the failure of Carillion and noting that the
NHS in Nottingham sacked them; the need fo more council housing; campaigning on gov’t proposals on supported housing (e.g. Carroll Gardens) – gov’t backtracked; new legislation for homes fit for human habitation; wanting more new council homes in The Meadows; that the government could do more; NHS – massive winter pressures; the waits for A&E ambulances: 300 more (check) operations cancelled.  Adult social care needs more support. Instead, the burden on council tax.  Pleased to see money secured for improvements to the Meadows Health Centre.  The new spaces available in local primary schools.
We need more police officers.

Community involvement counts. Casework is key to what she does and the feedback informs.  Meadows Advice Group is invaluable.


Councillor Toby Neal spoke on the cuts to the council’s budget being made by the national government.


International Brigade celebrated in Old Market Square in 1939

IMG_2710a LM AldJB 1938 39 album 08 International Brigade (c) Jackie Clark scan O18021915300 ab2993h
The Lord Mayor of Nottingham meeting and greeting the International Brigade on Wednesday, 1st February, 1939.
79 years ago.
Amazing photo – determined faces, big coats – and a beret.
The famous “Quince Brigade“.  Viva!
Note, Barcelona had just fallen in the Spanish Civil War and the U.K. was to recognise the Franco regime 26 days later.
IMG_2839 cj4318h Nottm Guardian 19390203 p01 International brigade and pictureThe event pictured was part of the food campaign tour and the photograph was published in the Nottingham Guardian, on Friday, 3rd February.
Click on or download the graphic to read the article.
(Thanks to Stuart Walsh who has taken the trouble to write – “This was part of the International Brigade Convoy, which went all over UK in January-February 1939 raising money for a foodship to Spain …”.)

Photo courtesy of Jackie Clark, descendant of the then Mayor, Ald. J. Baldwin, and copyright holder.  The Nottingham Guardian presented the retiring Mayor a photo album with 39 splendid photos (crude photos of each page available here).

I had wrongly thought it might be a welcome home for those who served –  26 volunteers went from Notts to serve.  If they were 35th Division, it’s likely that they’d fought at the Battle of Ebro, staving off superior nationalist forces, which included the Nazi Condor Legion..


BBC Radio Nottingham “A” plus 50 years

WP_20180127_12_00_55_Pro (4) Radio Nottm 50 Nicola and Squeg.jpgThe launch of BBC Radio Nottingham took place 50 years ago. “A” for “air” day was January 31st January, 1968.
The Council House is where the decisions were made to start the radio station, as part of the first wave of BBC local radio stations.
The driving force for Radio Nottingham – the then leader of Nottingham City Council, Alderman Eric S. Foster, from the Labour Party.
He won the support of the 2 other political groups.
The council found £32k for capital and £54k for running costs.
In today’s money, £382k and £655k.
As for the Nottingham Playhouse, the costs were met from the Gas Fund.
The council first resolved to act in December 1966.
Despite appeals, no other council joined in.
The Regional CBI stayed out.
Industry saying they saw no value in the station but still issued pious warnings to the Socialists and Tories about how it should be run.
Nottingham was fourth BBC local radio station to start.
The station sought out the first baby girl to be born after broadcasting started.
This happened to be Nicola Anne Bush of Avondale-road, Carlton.
The Bush family received a visit from the director & Squeg the squirrel.
Squeg was created for the under-5s listeners, and performed alongside Syrup, another squirrel.  (Squeg was to retire when his squeak stopped working.)
The Bush family and were given a VHF radio.
VHF radio was relatively rare then.
The challenge of only broadcasting on VHF which was clearly understood from the outset.
So why support the station?
Being ambitious for Nottingham.
Reasons stressed in pressing Nottingham’s case was –
– being the regional capital;
– being technically well-equipped;
– the extensive conurbation;
– the “deep reservoir” of cultural activities.
And don’t those points sound familiar!
The council has done many other projects in Nottingham since, some of which are often not found in other cities.
– zone and collar,
– Concert Hall,
– Ice Arena,
– a new tier of education – the children’s centres,
– city centre clear zone and bus changes,
– the Contemporary gallery
– the new tram,
– workplace parking levy,
– tram phase 2.
And how those projects must have rehearsed on Radio Nottingham in the 50 years.
The discussions to come – well who knows?
Let’s guess –
– Universal credit,
– delivering clearer air,
– coping with more people living longer,
– staying in the EU after all (!?),
– Facebook being made bankrupt through prosecutions (yeah, right),
– HS2 arriving and expanding the tram,
– finding we can’t afford petrol anymore.
Whatever’s coming, Nottingham would be better equipped if the council had the powers and the capacity it had in the sixties, that meant it could start Radio Nottingham.
Radio Nottingham was the first radio station in the UK to do phone-in programmes.
Bringing Councillors on air from the outset.
Not sure my track record is all that great.
– getting a presenter’s name wrong on air;
– joining a crew for a 3pm broadcast of Little John chiming, only for it to stay silent.
– joining a breakfast show on the 2004 tsunami, despite telling them I had nothing to stay.
But I did enjoy being on the John Holmes show.
8 notable tracks.
Requiring Joy Division to be played on a Sunday morning.
So let’s celebrate BBC Radio Nottingham.
Harold Wilson wanted them to continue but he lost the General Election in 1970.  Heath’s Conservative government sent Minister Christopher Chattaway to review existing stations with a view to closure or sell-off.  He came to realise the station was well-established and policy was changed.  So, after being paid for by the city council for at least 2 years, the BBC took over the funding.
A public service broadcaster.
That mission statement –
Inform, educate and entertain.
That challenging mission statement.
Discussions to come about
– who we are,
– what we’re doing,
– what we’ve been and
– what we can become
are far better managed than on Facebook & Twitter.
Where people have to say who they are.
Where the quality and tone of the discussion is overseen.
Where you can’t just fire off the wild allegations and not be held to account.
And maybe that sense of rights and responsibilities was behind the enormous respect this city had for Dennis McCarthy.
20,000 people came on the street to witness his funeral cortege.
A symbol of love for him and respect for the radio station.
The station was to see other presenters break through at a national level.
Some of the technicians trained and developed were to start significant businesses.
Congratulations to Radio Nottingham on their fifty years.


Holocaust Memorial Day 2018

Screenshot (830) HMD slideshow core pics ab0732h

Because Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves.
Of what has happened; that there are those who would deny what’s happened; that there are those who would do it again; and there are those who would share some of their words and memes, cos part of the hatred suits them.
This year, we particularly reminded ourselves of Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and the Nazi persecution.  Genocides, and the Holocaust.
Especially, the power of words.
I was always a science student more than arts & language.
Yet 40 years on, I still remember first hearing that poem “First, they came for the Communists …”.  There are no doubt more powerful poems, but it was pretty up there for me.  And I heard it first in a school corridor.
Powerful words for the good.
Other words, not always so good.
The words and the images that drove a man to drive a car into Muslims meeting outside a mosque in Finsbury Park.
Two lists I’ve found useful recently.

I’m grateful for a working definition of contemporary examples of Anti-Semitism.
Cos when a Facebook “friend” shared a meme of a Rothschild, with the phrase “He creates our currency”, I can easily say that’s –
“Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, …, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the … economy …”
Cos when famous people cite examples of some Zionists co-operating with Nazis in Hungary all those years ago, without pointing out how atypical any forms of cooperation was, that’s –
“Denying the … scope … of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany …”
When a barrister, with more power of words that I might have, attacks what’s happening in the Middle East with reference to the people who died in the Holocaust with dignity, that’s –
“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

I’m grateful too for the film “Denial.  It came out in February 2017.
An academic whose life was almost ruined because she would not debate with holocaust denier, David Irving.
Back in 1980, I was with people who shouted David Irving down.  I was so grateful for that film.
Grateful for that barrister. Grateful for that academic.

A new list at a meeting at the National Holocaust Centre in July, to commemorate the Srebenica massacre of Muslims and to pledge what would we do if there was no signs of genocide.
Of 11 pledges, the pledge I was to read out –
“When we see persecution, we will do everything in our power to protect those who are suffering.”

Then the open anti-Semitism at Charlottesville in August.
Hordes of white men shouting “the Jews will not replace us.
And the counter-protests; we should remember Heather Heyer, killed when a car was driven into the crowd.

Then, Myanmar and the Rohingya.
MPs were quick to demand action on the foreign minister.
and it’s happening on Aung San Suu Kyi’s watch.
Not yet it seems declared officially as a genocide.

So lots happening in the last year.
Too much.
So as we lights our candles, we should reflect on the power of words.
And resolve –
– to remind ourselves that there is still a fight to be won,
– to inform each other of what’s happening, and what we already have to equip us, so that when we see or hear the words,
– we act.


Very stable geniuses

Been prompted to think what makes a good after-dinner speech and directed by a search engine to read an article by Gyles Brandreth.
Bullet points –

1. Know your audience
2. Entertain your audience, not yourself
3. Stay sober
4. Speak before 11pm
5. Don’t be lumbered with a set text
6. Don’t get rattled
7. Don’t out stay your welcome

In the last 8 months, I have learnt not to read speeches, but setting out to be funny, knowing what will make people laugh ain’t a strength I have.

Pride in your home city / town ought to be a sure-fire winner for a home audience, but point 1 applies, cos knocking a “rival” city ain’t the way if people from that city are there.  And of course, in the Nottingham & Derby scenario, we’re trying hard to develop a new partnership.  Cos really, if taking on Derby is the limit of your ambition, there’s a lot of the world you’re missing out on.

Equally, knocking your home city / town can be a winner if you still live there.  Scottish emigrants to Israel once took exception to a Billy Connelly speech to which he replied “C’mn, I love Scotland so much, I actually live there”. (35+ years on, I still remember that.)

Less struck by the idea of knocking neighbourhoods; especially if with some kind of genius, you’ve moved on and left them behind.  Maybe those who’ve aspired for them since haven’t achieved enough – maybe we should take some stick.  But I’m not keen on looking down on people, even fellow guests.

Though I thought the remark against right-wing protesters of “very stable geniuses” by Sadiq Khan was a peach of a put-down, even if I think the idea of trying to stop him speaking cos he’d opposed a Trump visit was quite witty.