Broadstairs and Charles Dickens: Heritage and Counter-Heritage

‘Charles Dickens never lived here’
Is a standout plaque on a cottage wall,
Down towards the harbour in Broadstairs –
Must take some courage to ironise
The Broadstairs branding of itself …

He first came here in 1837,
The year of Victoria’s accession,
And a year of gathering Chartist momentum,
To lodge in the High Street at number twelve,
To complete the last few monthly numbers
Of Pickwick Papers, and make so much money
That he bought the imposing cliff top house,
Fort House, built some thirty odd years before,
Where he penned his pages of labyrinthine plots,
And Pickwickian old time wistful nostalgia,
And critical observations of modern times:
Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist,
Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop,
Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit,
Dombey and Son, David Copperfield;

'Charles Dickens never lived here'
Is a standout plaque on a cottage wall,
Down towards the harbour in Broadstairs -
Must take some courage to ironise
The Broadstairs branding of itself ...

He first came here in 1837,
The year of Victoria's accession,
And a year of gathering Chartist momentum,
To lodge in the High Street at number twelve,
To complete the last few monthly numbers
Of Pickwick Papers, and make so much money
That he bought the imposing cliff top house,
Fort House, built some thirty odd years before,
Where he penned his pages of labyrinthine plots,
And Pickwickian old time wistful nostalgia,
And critical observations of modern times:
Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist,
Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop,
Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit,
Dombey and Son, David Copperfield;

read more

A Wiltshire Town and Peterloo

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’ read more

Swinish Multitude

Edmund Burke‘s Statue, Bristol, December 2018

Edmund Burke on the lower orders – ‘ a swinish multitude’

‘Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude … ‘

Reflections on the Revolution in France 1790

Edmund Burke ‘s Statue

Paid for by a Bristol tobacco baron,
We look on your works and despair:
You stand there, commanding Bristol’s heights,
Your ancien regime condescension
Masked by this deceptive commemoration:
“I wish to be a member of parliament to have my share
of doing good and resisting evil.”
Far more truthful if the plinth were etched
With this memorialization:
‘I regard all you common people,
Passing me by on your trivial tasks
As nothing more than a swinish multitude.’

Edmund Burke‘s Statue, Bristol, December 2018

Edmund Burke on the lower orders – ‘ a swinish multitude’

‘Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude … ‘

Reflections on the Revolution in France 1790

Edmund Burke ‘s Statue

Paid for by a Bristol tobacco baron,
We look on your works and despair:
You stand there, commanding Bristol’s heights,
Your ancien regime condescension
Masked by this deceptive commemoration:
"I wish to be a member of parliament to have my share
of doing good and resisting evil."
Far more truthful if the plinth were etched
With this memorialization:
‘I regard all you common people,
Passing me by on your trivial tasks
As nothing more than a swinish multitude.’

read more

Radical Stroud Terminalia Walk Saturday 23rd February

Terminalia is a one day international festival of walking, space, place and psychogeography on 23rd February. Terminalia is the festival of Terminus, Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.

This year, Radical Stroud are carrying out a circular walk in Oakridge. In honour of Terminus we will visit the site of Oakridge Common. It was enclosed in 1866 against local opposition and we will view the present day boundaries with an eye to the past. In our usual eclectic fashion we will also take in the site of a Roman villa, a long barrow and the crash site of a WW2 German bomber.

Quiet lanes and footpaths and a few styles. A couple of steep climbs. Likely to be muddy. 2-3hours.

Meet at 10.30 at the gate of the

Church of St Bartholomew
Oakridge Lynch
Latitude: 51.7291 / 51°43’44″N
Longitude: -2.1277 / 2°7’39″W
OS Eastings: 391278
OS Northings: 203385
OS Grid: SO912033

Terminalia is a one day international festival of walking, space, place and psychogeography on 23rd February. Terminalia is the festival of Terminus, Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.

This year, Radical Stroud are carrying out a circular walk in Oakridge. In honour of Terminus we will visit the site of Oakridge Common. It was enclosed in 1866 against local opposition and we will view the present day boundaries with an eye to the past. In our usual eclectic fashion we will also take in the site of a Roman villa, a long barrow and the crash site of a WW2 German bomber.

Quiet lanes and footpaths and a few styles. A couple of steep climbs. Likely to be muddy. 2-3hours.

Meet at 10.30 at the gate of the

Church of St Bartholomew
Oakridge Lynch
Latitude: 51.7291 / 51°43'44"N
Longitude: -2.1277 / 2°7'39"W
OS Eastings: 391278
OS Northings: 203385
OS Grid: SO912033 read more

The Kings and Kingdoms

The hollow roll of dates
chronicling the tired litany of monarchs.
Their dusty bones never sleeping
gasping their phantom moans to every generation:
To keep on fighting for the kingdom.
To never forget king and kingdom comes first.
You are its living instrument
that the dead summon to serve and die buried under the hollow drum roll of dates and kings.
Piling their bloody victories, plundered wealth and the crotch grasping posture of destruction over the thousands of corpses that had to die.
To die like an insignificant fly for the dusty bones and stones cut with the deeds of one homicidal dynasty after another.
Oh but the blood must run, it must run!
The young have to die.
The women will birth our soldiers.
For I can hear the dry bones of old kings and their old wars
drumming in today’s march into oblivion.

The hollow roll of dates
chronicling the tired litany of monarchs.
Their dusty bones never sleeping
gasping their phantom moans to every generation:
To keep on fighting for the kingdom.
To never forget king and kingdom comes first.
You are its living instrument
that the dead summon to serve and die buried under the hollow drum roll of dates and kings.
Piling their bloody victories, plundered wealth and the crotch grasping posture of destruction over the thousands of corpses that had to die.
To die like an insignificant fly for the dusty bones and stones cut with the deeds of one homicidal dynasty after another.
Oh but the blood must run, it must run!
The young have to die.
The women will birth our soldiers.
For I can hear the dry bones of old kings and their old wars
drumming in today’s march into oblivion. read more

WEA Radical History Course

I am delighted to say that I shall be running a short course of four sessions in February and early March on Radical History. The course will be held in Stroud. Full details on this link:

https://enrolonline.wea.org.uk/online/2018/courseinfo.aspx?r=C3530259

I am delighted to say that I shall be running a short course of four sessions in February and early March on Radical History. The course will be held in Stroud. Full details on this link:

https://enrolonline.wea.org.uk/online/2018/courseinfo.aspx?r=C3530259 read more

Radical Stroud – Winter Solstice Walk. 21st December

On the shortest day of the year we will aim to visit an eclectic range of intriguing sites – the cheese rolling slope; the remains of a Roman Villa; the site of the sanatorium where Orwell stayed a few months before his death; Great Witcombe church for some reflections on the change of calendar and the loss of 12 days in 1752; West Tump long barrow (it’s one of the longest at 80yards!); Cranham village which influenced Gustav Holst to compose the eponymous tune (aka In the bleak mid-winter – how apt!)

On the shortest day of the year we will aim to visit an eclectic range of intriguing sites - the cheese rolling slope; the remains of a Roman Villa; the site of the sanatorium where Orwell stayed a few months before his death; Great Witcombe church for some reflections on the change of calendar and the loss of 12 days in 1752; West Tump long barrow (it’s one of the longest at 80yards!); Cranham village which influenced Gustav Holst to compose the eponymous tune (aka In the bleak mid-winter - how apt!) read more

Trenchcoats For Goalposts

Friday 7th December, 8pm
at the Sub Rooms, Stroud

Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company present TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS – Christmas Truce, 1914 with Jon Seagrave (aka Jonny Fluffypunk,)John Bassett, Bill Jones, Paul Southcott, Stuart Butler, Angela Findlay, Crispin Thomas & Jeff The Fuse + Ned Gibbons (Sound/Lights)

“A unique performance.. history and humour, poetry and poignancy combined!” ~Stroud Life.

Trenchcoats for Goalposts is back by demand for one last time, following a packed and acclaimed show here in 2016 and equally well received performances in Cheltenham, Painswick, Dursley and Nailsworth .Be transported once more in theatre, spoken word, live music and song to No Man’s Land in a moving and often funny re-creation of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Far from glorifying War and performed by a host of Gloucestershire’s finest in authentic WW1 garb, with tinsel for barbed wire and an ancient football, together they turn the Sub Rooms into Flanders Field.

Friday 7th December, 8pm
at the Sub Rooms, Stroud

Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company present TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS - Christmas Truce, 1914 with Jon Seagrave (aka Jonny Fluffypunk,)John Bassett, Bill Jones, Paul Southcott, Stuart Butler, Angela Findlay, Crispin Thomas & Jeff The Fuse + Ned Gibbons (Sound/Lights)

"A unique performance.. history and humour, poetry and poignancy combined!” ~Stroud Life.

Trenchcoats for Goalposts is back by demand for one last time, following a packed and acclaimed show here in 2016 and equally well received performances in Cheltenham, Painswick, Dursley and Nailsworth .Be transported once more in theatre, spoken word, live music and song to No Man’s Land in a moving and often funny re-creation of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Far from glorifying War and performed by a host of Gloucestershire's finest in authentic WW1 garb, with tinsel for barbed wire and an ancient football, together they turn the Sub Rooms into Flanders Field. read more

Radical Stroud WW1 and FGR Walk

Radical Stroud WW1 and FGR Walk
Saturday November 17th
Meet at 12 at Nailsworth War Memorial
An Armistice Centenary Walk and Talk
Peace at Last!

A performative walk and talk through WW1 as it affected Stroud, the Five Valleys, Nailsworth, and Forest Green. Meet at the clock in Nailsworth at 12 for a walk led by Andrew Budd and Stuart Butler. Arrive at the New Lawn at 2.15. Performance and poems from Uta Baldauf, John Bassett, Andrew and Stuart, and, of course, mystery guests, along the way. Feel free to bring any memories and stories to share, if you wish.

Radical Stroud WW1 and FGR Walk
Saturday November 17th
Meet at 12 at Nailsworth War Memorial
An Armistice Centenary Walk and Talk
Peace at Last!

A performative walk and talk through WW1 as it affected Stroud, the Five Valleys, Nailsworth, and Forest Green. Meet at the clock in Nailsworth at 12 for a walk led by Andrew Budd and Stuart Butler. Arrive at the New Lawn at 2.15. Performance and poems from Uta Baldauf, John Bassett, Andrew and Stuart, and, of course, mystery guests, along the way. Feel free to bring any memories and stories to share, if you wish. read more

FGR and WW1

Charles and Ernest go to the football

Charles sneaked out unnoticed, from his home in Northfield Road. His first call was only a few yards away, ‘The Jovial Foresters’, not only his local pub, but also the headquarters of his beloved Football Club, Forest Green Rovers.

Sitting in the bar, enjoying his pint, and listening to the conversations, Charles felt he belonged here. The hoppy aroma of the beer was assailed by the whiff of embrocation from the room out the back, used as a changing room by the football club. It’s half past two on a late summer Saturday afternoon. The home side and the visitors from Brimscombe are finishing their beer, and heading up the hill towards the Forest Green pitch at The Lawn. Charles joins the teams and supporters as they strut their way uphill, trying not to look out of puff to the opposing team.

Charles stops at his friend’s house in Forest Green. He’s come to pick up young Ernest, who was keen as ever to cheer for his local team. Charles and Ernest were seventeen years apart in age, but had always got on well. They saw each other most days, either at work at Woodchester, or around the lanes of the hamlet, high above the Nailsworth Valley.

Arriving at the Forest Green pitch, a sizeable crowd is standing along the touchline as the local villages do battle on the football field. It was the first league match for six years, because the Great War had rudely interrupted organised football.

And in the Forest Green team is Walter Beale, a dependable goal-scorer, and, more importantly to Ernest, a proud family member. Ernest was cheering Walter’s every touch, even when he missed a sitter! The game ended 1-1 so honours were shared. The spectators came onto the pitch at the end, to congratulate the players, and to celebrate a return to some sort of normality for Stroud valleys life.

Charles and Ernest go to the football

Charles sneaked out unnoticed, from his home in Northfield Road. His first call was only a few yards away, ‘The Jovial Foresters’, not only his local pub, but also the headquarters of his beloved Football Club, Forest Green Rovers.

Sitting in the bar, enjoying his pint, and listening to the conversations, Charles felt he belonged here. The hoppy aroma of the beer was assailed by the whiff of embrocation from the room out the back, used as a changing room by the football club. It’s half past two on a late summer Saturday afternoon. The home side and the visitors from Brimscombe are finishing their beer, and heading up the hill towards the Forest Green pitch at The Lawn. Charles joins the teams and supporters as they strut their way uphill, trying not to look out of puff to the opposing team.

Charles stops at his friend’s house in Forest Green. He’s come to pick up young Ernest, who was keen as ever to cheer for his local team. Charles and Ernest were seventeen years apart in age, but had always got on well. They saw each other most days, either at work at Woodchester, or around the lanes of the hamlet, high above the Nailsworth Valley.

Arriving at the Forest Green pitch, a sizeable crowd is standing along the touchline as the local villages do battle on the football field. It was the first league match for six years, because the Great War had rudely interrupted organised football.

And in the Forest Green team is Walter Beale, a dependable goal-scorer, and, more importantly to Ernest, a proud family member. Ernest was cheering Walter’s every touch, even when he missed a sitter! The game ended 1-1 so honours were shared. The spectators came onto the pitch at the end, to congratulate the players, and to celebrate a return to some sort of normality for Stroud valleys life. read more