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.
Why, sirrah, and why, madam, hast thou not read thy Tom Paine?
‘Kings succeed each other not as rationals but as animals …
an hereditary governor is as inconsistent as an hereditary author.’
And you needn’t visit Paris in this, the year of our Lord,
Seventeen Hundred and Ninety Two,
To witness republican enthusiasm,
You could travel on the turnpike to Sheffield instead,
And witness the 5,000 cutler ‘republican levelers’,
The ‘Sheffield sans-culottes’ with their Angel of Peace
Proffering Tom Paine’s Rights of Man to Britannia,
While across the land, parodies of the national anthem are sung:
God Save Great Thomas Paine,
AT THE FEDERATION THEATRE IN EQUALITY SQUARE,
Will be Performed
A new and entertaining Farce, called LA GUILLOTINE!
Or GEORGE’S HEAD IN THE BASKET!
Dramatis Personae: Numpy the Third …
Tight Rope Dancing from The Lamp-post,
By Messrs. CANTERBURY, YORK, DURHAM &.
Pamphlets such as King Killing;
The Happy Reign of King George the Last;
100, 000 people meeting at Copenhagen Fields, Islington;
The King’s carriage attacked:
‘No War! No King! No Pitt!’
The following sung to the tune of ‘God Save the King’
At Drury Lane Theatre:
‘And when George’s Poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
This anniversary coincides with the 11th Prince Albert Beer & Music Festival, Thursday 3rd – Monday 7th May
Real ale, cider and perry. Food available all weekend.
And here are some slogans from Paris, fifty years ago.
You could declaim one or two,
over a pint or two, if you fancy it.
Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible.
Be realistic, demand the impossible.
La barricade ferme la rue mais ouvre la voie.
The barricade blocks the street but opens the way.
Refusons le dialogue avec nos matraqueurs.
Let us not dialogue with our persecutors.
On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le.
They buy your happiness. Steal it.
Sous les pavés, la plage !
Beneath the paving stones – the beach!
L’ennui est contre-révolutionnaire.
Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
*Pas de replâtrage, la structure est pourrie.
No re-plastering, the structure is rotten.read more
Two years ago an Alien landed in Nailsworth, unnoticed by the Stroud Valleys folk. Since its arrival after fifty years temporarily rooted on Planet Essex, this strange being has immersed itself in the Gloucestershire soil, attempting to make sense of its move here “for a change, and it ticked more boxes than anywhere else”.
See how a creature far from home has struggled with unfamiliar territory; intensively exploring its new homeland on foot, or by bicycle, guided by its ‘Ordnance Survey Explorer 168’, Gloucestershire ‘Pevsners’, and Wikipedia.
Join a naive explorer for a circular walk, as this being shares with you its Outsider Views on the Stroud Valleys heritage, as it attempts to blend-in with its new people.read more
Words of the day were obvs bound to be
Metaphor, Palimpsest, Serendipitous,
Inscription and Superscription,
On such a walk as this;
A train ride to Stonehouse
And then a walk through what once was Standish Hospital,
Now a Dystopian Derek Jarmanesque seeming film set,
A Victorian mansion built as a temporary home,
Becomes a Great War hospital,
Becomes a sanatorium,
Becomes an NHS hospital,
But now a building site in limbo,
Fencing all around the mouldering mansion,
The once-were stables,
The towering red brick chimney at the boiler house,
The Japanese knotweed infested lakesides,
The art deco sanatorium: its clean air and sunlight,
Long gone the way of all flesh;
We continued past streams and brooks and railway lines and bridges,
Past ridge and furrow and Revenants,
Past round barrows etched on the skyline,
Past churches and graveyards and lost villages
(And Standish, where the body of Edward the Second rested en route
From Berkeley Castle to Gloucester Cathedral),
To see the line of motorway and the cathedral of the Anthropocene:
It has been said that football is a religion. It is true that for many, attending a match can seem like a religious experience. The blind faith that one day your team will reach the promised land (of the Premiership), the sense of belonging, the passion and the weird attire all replicate that of many religions. Even the killing of the opposition supporters has been known to happen, but thankfully not to Inquisition style proportions.
I suggest that the links to religion don’t stop there.
I have been reading a book recently by the psychologist Jordan Peterson and in his opening chapter he makes the comment “Chaos and order are two of the most fundamental elements of lived experience”. We order our lives in a way that can cope with the chaos that life throws at us, whether it is health issues, financial problems or the elements of nature that are doing their best to make life difficult.read more
Alas! George Bowling and George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air: the spot where I scored my best ever goal is now a housing estate.
The Best Goal I Ever Scored
It must have been 1965,
We were having a lunchtime kick-about.
‘It’s Good News Week’ by Hedgehoppers’ Anonymous
Was playing on someone’s transistor
Just behind the goal nearest the school,
Phil Vine was puffing out on the wing,
And crossed hopefully towards the edge of the box,
Where I had strayed, and where I stood,
Predicting the precise path of the ball.