The Famous Five, Windrush, Walter Tull and Enoch Powell

The Famous Five and Enoch Powell and Walter Tull

What an extraordinary coincidence,
That on the fiftieth anniversary
Of Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech,
Our railway stations should be awash
With ‘Five Go on Holiday’ GWR posters;
Four children – well adults really – and a dog,
Escaping to a whitewashed cottage,
In a West Country all white fastness,
Where BBC received pronunciation,
Snobbish condescension,
And lower class deference
Keep everyone in their place,
Abetted by kindly constables on the beat,
Who will willingly tell you the time.

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Saint Lawrence

Saint Lawrence

Lawrence, according to Wikipedia, originally came from Valencia in Spain. He was a young deacon in Rome under Pope Sixtus II, before Christianity became the established religion, at the time when the Emperor Valerian launched a persecution against the early church. In 258 Sixtus was beheaded while celebrating the liturgy and Lawrence was ordered to hand over the church’s treasured possessions. He asked for three days to gather them, over which time he distributed the precious things amongst the community before presenting himself with a delegation of marginalised and disabled people.

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Bunyan, Blake, Wordsworth and Forest Green

Blake, Bunyan, Wordsworth and Forest Green

And lo, it came to pass that when the Forest Green fans sang
‘Stand up for the Forest Green’,
All fans throughout the ground and stands,
Stood up.
And when the Forest Green fans sang
‘Sit down for the Forest Green’,
All fans throughout the ground and stands,
Sat down.

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Sub. Rooms: Theatre of Memories

Public buildings are not just about accounts, ledgers and money,
They are also about what Raphael Samuel called ‘Theatres of Memory’,
Where varying conceptions of ‘Heritage’ can collude, collide, or elide:
If each of us could walk alone through the Subscription Rooms,
Alone in memory, reverie and seasonal darkness,
As the clock, Jacob Marley-like, chimed through the night,
What a miscellany of ghosts of Stroud Subscription Rooms’ past
Would be invoked!
Those concerts, those bands, those exhibitions, those meetings,
Those queues, the café, the bar,
Tickets for shows and the National Express bus …

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Dennis Severs’ House

It’s like History on Acid,
A Raphael Samuel Magical Mystery Tour,
Not Seven Rooms of Gloom,
But ten rooms which haunt and hex:
The dead still alive,
Watching us trip through space and time,
Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard outside,
Peering through the window panes,
Observing us in our candle-lit dream,
Clocks ticking away the century
Until it’s the time for Jacob Marley
To makes his visitation and warning,
Not just to Ebenezer Scrooge,

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The Glade

In The Glade

Anne Creed has transformed the derelict waste land off Nelson Street into a place of beauty, special to many. A broken piece of roofing slate on the corner of the Golden Fleece carved with the word glade in Tom Perkins style marks the entrance and points to the cracked pool table inscribed with ‘Song’ by Ivor Gurney.

Only the wanderer knows England’s graces

Or can anew see clear familiar faces

And who loves joy as he who dwells in shadows

Do not forget me, quite, O Severn meadows

Gurney wrote it on the Western Front in the spring of 1917 before the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) where he was gassed. Broken in two, the slate was dumped in a skip. The break could represent the breakup of Europe in the First World War or the subsequent break down of his mental health.

“No it’s the River Severn,” a friend said.

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Before The Luddites

Before the Luddites Custom, community and machinery in the English woollen industry, 1776-1809

Adrian Randall CUP

This wonderful book opens with an exploration of the pejorative use of the term ‘Luddites’ – they were right weren’t they? Wages did fall and goods could deteriorate – and how they ‘could little have imagined the linguistic legacy they were to bequeath to posterity.’ Randall points out that a focus upon direct action – rioting and so on – does not ‘accentuate’ the ‘atypical’: ‘riots often provide historians with our only point of access’ into the past values, attitudes and traditions of custom-held rights. And this point of access reveals that ‘Resistance to machinery was multiform … peaceful petitioning, appeals to the courts … negotiations … strike action, intimidation and riot.’ Randall shows how this resistance echoed 18th century Gloucestershire food riots – ‘Just as food riots reveal order, discrimination and a clear moral economy, so do the community-based riots against the jenny and scribbling machine.’

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