History

Henry Hunt and Peterloo

‘With Henry Hunt, we’ll go my boys,
With Henry Hunt, we’ll go,
We’ll mount the Cap of Liberty,
In spite of Nadin Joe.

On the 16th day of August
Eighteen hundred and nineteen,
A meeting held in Peter’s Field
Was glorious to be seen,

Joe Nadin and his big bulldogs,
As you might plainly see,
And on the other side,
Stood the bloody cavalry.

With Henry Hunt, we’ll go my boys,
With Henry Hunt, we’ll go,
We’ll mount the Cap of Liberty,
In spite of Nadin Joe.’

So how did a Wiltshire gentleman farmer
End up on the hustings at Peterloo?
How did a seemingly egotistical,
And self-regarding rhetorician,
End up being eulogized by the North,
And revered by the industrial working class?

Tell me, Mr. Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt,
Up there, on the hustings and platforms,
In your self-centred, narcissistic white hat,
How did it happen?

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Collecting Football Autographs

Do you remember collecting autographs,
When the football specials steamed back west,
When the last faint gleams of terrace street sun
Slipped behind the shadows of the stands,
And the ground went abruptly quiet and numb,
When the crowd made its hot chocolate way home
And the terraces and streets were suddenly empty;
And do you remember the mayhem outside the players’ entrance –
Crowds of kids, scrap books and pens thrust upwards,
Huddled together by the red and white fence,
Hoping for names of star centre forwards,
Like me with my scrapbook with pictures stuck in
With flour paste, from all the Sunday papers,
Of players, arms aloft with toothless grins,
In wintry darkness, mud, mist, rain and vapours.

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The Best Goal I Ever Scored

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.

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Woodchester Roman Villa

Boudonus a servant in the Villa Magni Widinis speaks:

‘My family have always been servants to the Great Family whose own ancestors had the villa built in the valley made with stone from the hills around; they were the Great Family before the Dobunni became part of the Roman Empire. My father said as his own father told him that the Roman men were very clever because they left our tribes as they were. In Britain we had our kings, priests and warriors, craftsmen and farmers; we had rich lands feeding our cows, sheep and growing grain. The Roman men left this because they could see it worked and all they had to do was make our noble men willing clients. Only they didn’t like our priests, the druids were too political refusing to acknowledge the divine status of the emperor. You know what happened to them’

‘We gave them tax,- yes that meant our grain-kept the peaceyes kept it because we were too busy scraping up enough grain for ourselves to think of disturbing Roman peace-and our nobility were left alone to enjoy the luxuries of the Roman Empire: lots of wine was the main thing and more skin off our hands working to keep the taxes up. At Villa Magni Widinis the Great Family are the richest here in Dobunnic territory and around them gather all their nobles who live in smaller Roman villas around the vale. My family has always been proud to be servants at Villa Magni Widinis.

It is not just a big house, no the villa is a place where there is industry and where the grain and wool from all the villa estate are sorted and made ready for being sold at the market at Glevum. Through the villa gates you will see there are buildings for pottery, iron working, brewing, baking, carpentry and weaving. They are done by families like mine who live inside the villa walls. It is the shepherds and field labourers who live outside and they are the poorest, but even they have to come to the villa to be paid in grain, beer, salt and wool.

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Take my Hand, I’m a Stranger in Paradise

It’s hard to imagine the orchards of Heathrow,
Abundant as the orchards of Herefordshire,
Down there, by John Betjeman’s hated Slough:
‘Come friendly bombs’;
Hard to imagine windfalls in these
William Blake ‘chartered streets’:
‘One World: One Account’,
‘The future is exciting!
Get ready!’
But I shall be flying over gramp’s
Great War battlefields,
Towards dad’s Chindit warfare,
Via dystopian Dubai airport:
‘Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village
to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world …
Jump on the metro, catch an amazing view from the world’s tallest building …
shop within The Dubai Mall Metropolis,
take a selfie in front of the famous Dubai Fountain …
All you have to do is get off a plane.’

But what of Kerala?
In the words of Stroud’s Rick Vick:
‘Apparently, a functioning, flourishing and fully communist state’,

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Kindertransport

Remembering

You were a deep mid-winter baby, Harry,
Born in Vienna, the home of art and culture,
Just two years after Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

But there was nothing to worry about
In those early years before memory,
When your mum and dad held you in their arms,
In mid-winter afternoon twilight –

Until the Wall Street Crash and depression
Meant the resurgence of fascism,
Militarism, the Third Reich,
Lebensraum, and a Greater Germany,
With a visit to Vienna from Hitler
(The city-birth of his fascism),
After Anschluss in 1938;

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What Makes People Love History

What makes People love history?
So that it becomes a passion,
Not a subject, nor hobby, nor interest,
Not a diversion, nor a pastime,
But a consuming passion instead.

I started to read the virtual edition
Of the History Workshop Journal,
A compendium of contributors
And historians, who recounted
The reasons, recollections, emotions,
And afternoon madeleine moments,
That all conspired, to conjure forth
A love of the study of the past:
A Passion for History.

I’ve added my own, too;
I wonder which of these apply to you?

For example …

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