FOR THE LOVE OF A CHARTIST
STROUD THEATRE FESTIVAL
Chartism was a working class movement of the 1830s and 40s that wanted to establish democracy in the country, at a time when only the aristocracy and middle class men had the vote.
It was based upon 6 points: the secret ballot so there could be no intimidation; payment of MPs so that working people could stand; same-size constituencies to prevent the old rural aristocracy lording it over the new industrial towns; ending the ownership of property rule to become an MP, so that working people could stand; votes for all men over 21 (there were Chartist groups in favour of votes for women even back then, however); annual parliaments so that governments would keep their promises.
All but one of these is now the law, of course, but you could easily end up in prison in Chartist times for supporting these ideas … lose your freedom, your job and home for wanting a democratic government…
It’s time to remember these freedom-fighters, and rescue them from what EP Thompson called, ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’.
And so this show – our counter-heritage rescuing of two special working people from the enormous condescension of posterity: George Shell of Newport and Charlotte-Alice Bingham of Stroud.
Chip Shop Hop
A group of us gathered at the corner Bath Road and Frome Park Road, initially in search of the legendary Rodborough Chip Machine
We then flexibly followed the score from walkwalkwalk – thanks to Clare Qualmann, Gail Burton and Serena Korda – (see at the end), so as to be part of a worldwide chip shop exploration. Our chip shop heritage pilgrimage took us from Bath Road to Cainscross, to Cashes Green to the High Street, to Simpsons, to Nelson Street and so to sunset and bed.
We had a lovely time chatting with staff in all the shops and explained our quest, emphasizing that this was not, as Deb Roberts put it, anything to do with ‘Chip Advisor’. Robin Treefellow wrote a poem especially for the occasion, which he performed in two different locations, once outside a cloth mill and once, natch, outside a chip shop.
Chips are not from Hell
they come from Heaven Highest
chips are winged angels
flying with greasy wings
coated in sparkling salt
into our contentious world
where they relieve our tearful cries
for help is here
the chips, the excellent and goodly chips
we partake of their ambrosia
soaked in vinegar
stubbled in salt
hot and rewarding between the teeth
as we swallow
the chip carries us up to the golden light
in the knowledge our troubles have passed
O, heavenly chips!
Sanctus, Sanctus, Excelsus
I like visiting the Albert,
I like the way it commands a crossroads,
Welcoming all cardinal points of the compass,
Just like a traditional inn should,
I particularly like it when the football comes home.
I like visiting the Albert in springtime,
When vases of flowers greet you in the bar,
With vernal fragrance and equinoctial promise,
Stretching into blossoming infinity,
But that’s not as good as when the football comes home.
I like summer drinking in the Albert,
With a pint of Alton’s Pride,
It’s like an infusion of Thomas Hardy,
With every novel you’ve ever read
Returning like a Native,
Or like the football.
I like autumn drinking in the Albert,
When mists and mellow fruitlessness
Entwine themselves around the eaves,
Just like a gothic Woman in White,
Or Jordan Pickford.
I like winter drinking in the Albert,
Sledging down the snow-scaped common,
Then in the bar for mulled ale and wine,
Just like we’re in A Christmas Carol,
But not with the ghost of Sam Allardyce.
We followed the old way out of Rodborough, taking Kingscourt Road to follow the 1300 Manor boundary. A route of old farmsteads, vanished feudal obligations and lost names.
De Rodboroughs and Gastrells, Achards and the Cynnes.
Red valerian and plump roses topped the summer limestone walls as we continued up The Street, through shady hanging beech woods and on to the site of the Horestone. Lost marker of the boundary of the manor of Minchinhampton.
Then a sharp climb, out of the shaded wood and up the dazzling limestone grassland slopes of the common. Such a richness of wild flowers. Their names as beautiful to the ear
Radical Stroud’s June walk is a week-early Jo Cox Memorial Walk: Meet at Rodborough Church, Friday June 15th at 10; returning to the church at 1pm. We shall be investigating the medieval history of Rodborough from the days when it was still owned as part of the Manor Minchinhampton by the Abbess of Caen. A trail that takes in several recorded medieval residences and places.read more
It was May the 12th, 2018,
Synchronised walking was happening all over the globe
Via a shared urban score:
‘Cities tend to start in the middle and spread outwards, thinning as they go…
a familiar phenomenology … in the middle of things.
But where is that exactly, and how can we be sure?
…you are unlikely to encounter a sign telling you that you have arrived.
This is, of course, one of the surest indications …
that you are back in the middle of things:
the signs pointing the way will have dried up.’
But we were in the country,
Far away from the City of London;
How could we see, hear, touch, taste and smell
The space-time of a city, out here in the shires,
Far away from Jeremy Corbyn and the TUC Rally,
Far away from William Blake and London:read more
With thanks to Bob Fry for the prologue and Robin Treefellow for his stream of consciousness imagery.
Dusty spikes of blue Bugle
Hemlock Water Dropwort.
Cow Parsley and May Blossom, shining white in the green hedgerows, everywhere.
Early swallows skimming the air above the buttercup meadows (where Robin recited his poems)
The Dream of Nailsworth
The waters’ intonation
washed in Nailsworth.
Before the cloth mills,
before the cars brought their disquiet
the waters sang among alders.
The world was a flicker of a fish
hiding from the heron.
Nailsworth knew nothing of Egypt’s pyramids
or the fall of Carthage.
Softly persisting to go where its water went,
Nailsworth bred dreams and spawned thousands of little worlds in marshy meadows.