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’ 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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Momentum Is The New Chartism

When the Daily Express and the Daily Mail tried to control
The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, back in the thirties,
He commented in his masculine way:
‘What the proprietorship of these newspapers is aiming at is power,
But power without responsibility,
The prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’
In the 2016 referendum,
We had Arron Banks:
‘Facts don’t work, and that’s it …
It just doesn’t work.
You have to connect with the people emotionally.
It’s the Trump success.’
And the General Election of 2017?
The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express,
With their slew of headlines,
Make it difficult not to think of John Heartfield,
And his Weimar agit-prop:
Big business pulling Hitler’s puppet strings;
What a coincidence that Boris Johnson should speak on the very subject
Of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘soft on terrorism’ trope,
The very day before The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express
Splashed their similar views all over their front pages –
I think this means that we now have a new category
Of political system for the text book:
A liberal-democratic 21st century variant of Fascism:
‘Strong and Stable Government’; ‘Coalition of Chaos’; ‘Brexit means Brexit’;
‘We make no apology for drawing attention to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn
has spent a lifetime siding with people who want to do Britain harm,
would weaken our defences and make our country less safe …’.

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Rodborough, Sunday June 11th

Rodborough, Sunday June 11th

A year ago we wandered through the sculptures
And hidden gardens of Rodborough,
Depressed and stupefied after the referendum result,
Lowering clouds gathering over the Severn,
Proving that the notion of a pathetic fallacy is not a fallacy –
But this year, the sun shone on the sculptures,
The flowers were particularly and pleasantly fragrant,
The tea and cake taken in the church graveyard,
Tasted sweetly of the resurrection of Labour,
And the party in the Prince Albert

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Thirty Something Local Historic Reasons to Vote for David Drew

Thirty Local Historic Reasons to Vote for David Drew and Keep the Tories Out


1. The Diggers and their Slimbridge Civil War community and those who supported them in Stroud and the Five Valleys
2. The Parliamentarians imprisoned in Painswick Church
3. The growers of Nicotiana Rustica who defied both King and Cromwell
4. Those who took direct action for a ‘moral economy’ against high food prices in Stroud and the Five Valleys
5. Those cloth-workers who took direct action against low wages and long hours in Stroud and the Five Valleys
6. Those who opposed slavery
7. Those who took direct action against the game laws
8. Those who opposed enclosure
9. Those who took direct action against turnpike tolls
10. Those who were transported

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Not Bad for a Village Team

Tranmere –
The name suggests a crossing of the waters,
A ferry across the Mersey,
A crossing of the River Rubicon,
Or for us, the River Thames –
On the 9.55 Football Poets Special,
Speeding through the Golden Valley,
Past Swindon’s railway works,
The Vale of the White Horse,
Then on through Sonning Cutting,
Sequestered Berkshire,
Suburban Middlesex,
Old Oak Common,
To Paddington.

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Save The Sub-Rooms!

‘In short, sir, you have it in a nutshell.
Where would Stroud be without it?’

We live in such divided times that anything that unites us is to be admired,
And just as a nation can be divided, so a town can be divided in so many ways:
Hefts can build up based on social class, or ethnicity, or politics, or education,
Or for so many whatever varied reasons,
As people find and accentuate commonality,
And whilst Stroud and the Five Valleys is not exactly ‘Town and Gown’,
It can feel a bit like Disraeli’s Two Nations at times:

‘Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.’

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Painswick Beacon and Botany Bay

The solstice is a time for wonder and the imagination,
But sometimes you need facts, figures and measurements:
Lines of latitude and longitude – maritime chronometers too,
Were needed for New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land,
For those weavers, cloth-workers, hatters, labourers and servants,
Transported as convicts, far distant from their Painswick homes,
On ships such as the Emma Eugenia, Florentia, Lady Ridley,
Duncan, Gilmore, Persian, Lord Hungerford, Bengal Merchant;
People such as Ann Alder, Henry Beard and Samuel Beard,
John Birt, Isaac Estcourt, James Green, William Haines, Charles Cook;
And at winter solstice-tide, we gathered at Painswick Beacon,

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