Events

North and South

There, on the one hand, St. Pancras and Paris;
And there, on the other, Kings Cross:
Gateway to the LNER,
And night mails crossing the border,

And gateway to a world we have lost:
Pit heads and winding gear, tram-roads and collieries,
And curling smoke chimney stacks:
The world of the North,

The canvas telling the truth,
Up there in the Mining Art Gallery,
At Bishop Auckland:

A terrible beauty down there in the dark depths,
And a beautiful harmony up there in the streets
And homes and chapels and clubs and pubs:
The stippled mist-light of the pit village,
The twisted sinews in the eighteen inch seam,
Ears keening with the creak of each pit prop,
The mind tracking the echo of dripping water,
And the whisper of each rock –

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Bristol: Clichéd Football; Radical History

Temple Meads via Swindon, 14 quid?
Temple Meads via Gloucester, only 7?
Well, that meant a ride through the warehouse edgelands,
And the buddleia rusting railway lines to Gloucester
(‘YES MATE’, as it said under the bridge),
But there was time enough for a trip down football’s memory lane
With a Swindon fan at Stroud:
‘No football at Ebley, now, look.
Nothin’.
Nothin’ at Ebley anymore’
I said I was off to watch Derby at Bristol City,
And he recalled
Swindon beating Derby one nil,
November 5th 1968:
‘Best Bonfire Night I ever had.’
We talked of FGR:
‘You be careful at Forest Green on Friday.
I know about 200 Swindon fans will be at the FGR end.’
‘I know mate. I’ll be one of them. With my red and white scarf.’
He looked at me with new and slightly befuddled admiration.
He slapped me on the back:
‘Fair play on ya, mate. Fair play.’

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Bristol Doors Open Days

Bristol Doors Open Days
The Merchants’ Hall
indocilis pauperiem pati
‘One who cannot learn to bear poverty’

What did I learn about our ‘Island Story’
On a squally September rain-swept day,
At the Merchants’ Hall, and Redcliffe Caves?
Well, we formed an orderly queue at the Hall,
Bantering with the pinstriped beadle,
Before our guide escorted us to the hall,
Where our talk began.

It was informative, in a manner of speaking:
The chandeliers are cleaned every two years!
Sixty-eight people can sit at this table!
When a speaker addresses an audience here,
The chairs are moved to face the front!
Princess Anne likes the Merchant Venturers!
Here are pictures of the docks in the 18th century!
(No mention yet…)
Royal Charters galore!
Portraits galore!
One day there will be a woman on the wall!
And a female ‘Master’ of the Society,
And she shalt have the title of ‘Master’!
The voice went on about the Society’s charitable enterprises,
I glanced at a couple of their annual reports:
‘New Schools’ Trust Offers Diversity’
(Conventional trope of girl in a science lab.),
More stuff on academies, residential care for the elderly,
‘Social business’ (sic), almshouses,
The ownership of Clifton Downs,
‘Although some 460 years old, the Society
is fresh and full of vigour and purpose’;
‘ … The Society and Bristol prospered. Trading patterns changed
over the centuries, with the later years marked
by the appalling period of slave trading in the 18th century.’
It all felt a bit Kafkaesque,
An arcane, shadowy world of ruling class disinformation …
Where philanthropy and charity
Obscures the hierarchy of ruling class control…

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Stroud Fringe Walk: Place, Space and Time

Beneath the pavement, the beach! For here we have a line of houses called Streamside, And up there, beyond the Fountain pub, Lies Springfield Road and a plethora Of constant, subterranean springs, Springs! The genius loci of Stroud …

We walked down Lansdowne, To cross the Slad Brook, at Mill House, In search of the edgelands, Puddles, brooks and panel beaters, Car dealers, buddleia, car parks and cinemas, Past the Dickensian Omar L. Cottle, Monumental mason, The nominative determinism of a park, Named after a Park, Past strange continuities in the street: The chemist’s on the corner, Where in 1872, A chemist by the name of Joseph Banks Campaigned for a farm workers’ trade union, And no more payment in truck: ‘In sterling money, not fat bacon …or a couple of swedes’,

Then to Badbrook and weavers’ riots, ‘We had been working ever longer time for ever cankered pennies all the year. Something needed doing. So we laid our shuttles and looms to rest and joined the Stroud Valleys Weavers Union. This is my true and faithful account. I cannot dissemble. The Good Book tells us that we should get our bread by the sweat of our brow. We had the sweat but no bread. What could we do?’

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Radical Pub Crawl: Loomsday

A pub-crawl is something I associate
With my youth – indeed, I have never ever
Typed ‘pub crawl’, before, but I am surprised
To find a green line advising me to
Hyphenate and create a compound noun.

The word was never hyphenated
When I used to go on a pub crawl:
There was a noun and there was a verb,
The noun was a sort of synecdoche,
Whilst the verb ‘crawl’ said it all:
The evening started vertical
And ended with a slow, meandering
Horizontal, hands and feet slowly,
Gradually, inching along pavement.

And that was a pub crawl, sampling lots of
Different pints, and different pubs,
Different prices, and atmospheres,
Collecting and clocking the pub names,
The different tastes, strengths and breweries,
In a sort of localised and active
Sociological nuanced survey:
It made you observant through the smoke.

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