When you were there at the Hopkins Street political chapel,
Or the Archer Street chapel in Soho,
Or listening at the Mulberry Tree in Moorfields,
In those months before the Cato Street Conspiracy,
There, with Robert Wedderburn –
Your rhetoric celebrating atheism,
Denouncing Christian hypocrisy
And espousing armed sedition,
In this, the most revolutionary
Of all the Spencean and political chapels,
Did your mind ever wander madeleine-like,
To the green in Ewen where you taught yourself to read,
And where you taught yourself to write?
(‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage where I was born … I was never in any school … I had to get the very alphabet by catching a letter at a time as best I could from other children, who had learnt them at school … The next grand object I had in view was to acquire the art of penmanship …’)
Part the First
You had been a friend of Thomas Spence,
Since you had first met him in 1804,
It was Spence’s Restorer of Society to its Natural State
That set you on the path to political prose and poetry,
The hollow roll of dates
chronicling the tired litany of monarchs.
Their dusty bones never sleeping
gasping their phantom moans to every generation:
To keep on fighting for the kingdom.
To never forget king and kingdom comes first.
You are its living instrument
that the dead summon to serve and die buried under the hollow drum roll of dates and kings.
Piling their bloody victories, plundered wealth and the crotch grasping posture of destruction over the thousands of corpses that had to die.
To die like an insignificant fly for the dusty bones and stones cut with the deeds of one homicidal dynasty after another.
Oh but the blood must run, it must run!
The young have to die.
The women will birth our soldiers.
For I can hear the dry bones of old kings and their old wars
drumming in today’s march into oblivion.
I am delighted to say that I shall be running a short course of four sessions in February and early March on Radical History. The course will be held in Stroud. Full details on this link:
On the shortest day of the year we will aim to visit an eclectic range of intriguing sites – the cheese rolling slope; the remains of a Roman Villa; the site of the sanatorium where Orwell stayed a few months before his death; Great Witcombe church for some reflections on the change of calendar and the loss of 12 days in 1752; West Tump long barrow (it’s one of the longest at 80yards!); Cranham village which influenced Gustav Holst to compose the eponymous tune (aka In the bleak mid-winter – how apt!)read more
Friday 7th December, 8pm
at the Sub Rooms, Stroud
Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company present TRENCHCOATS FOR GOALPOSTS – Christmas Truce, 1914 with Jon Seagrave (aka Jonny Fluffypunk,)John Bassett, Bill Jones, Paul Southcott, Stuart Butler, Angela Findlay, Crispin Thomas & Jeff The Fuse + Ned Gibbons (Sound/Lights)
“A unique performance.. history and humour, poetry and poignancy combined!” ~Stroud Life.
Trenchcoats for Goalposts is back by demand for one last time, following a packed and acclaimed show here in 2016 and equally well received performances in Cheltenham, Painswick, Dursley and Nailsworth .Be transported once more in theatre, spoken word, live music and song to No Man’s Land in a moving and often funny re-creation of the 1914 Christmas Truce. Far from glorifying War and performed by a host of Gloucestershire’s finest in authentic WW1 garb, with tinsel for barbed wire and an ancient football, together they turn the Sub Rooms into Flanders Field.read more
Radical Stroud WW1 and FGR Walk
Saturday November 17th
Meet at 12 at Nailsworth War Memorial
An Armistice Centenary Walk and Talk
Peace at Last!
A performative walk and talk through WW1 as it affected Stroud, the Five Valleys, Nailsworth, and Forest Green. Meet at the clock in Nailsworth at 12 for a walk led by Andrew Budd and Stuart Butler. Arrive at the New Lawn at 2.15. Performance and poems from Uta Baldauf, John Bassett, Andrew and Stuart, and, of course, mystery guests, along the way. Feel free to bring any memories and stories to share, if you wish.read more
Charles and Ernest go to the football
Charles sneaked out unnoticed, from his home in Northfield Road. His first call was only a few yards away, ‘The Jovial Foresters’, not only his local pub, but also the headquarters of his beloved Football Club, Forest Green Rovers.
Sitting in the bar, enjoying his pint, and listening to the conversations, Charles felt he belonged here. The hoppy aroma of the beer was assailed by the whiff of embrocation from the room out the back, used as a changing room by the football club. It’s half past two on a late summer Saturday afternoon. The home side and the visitors from Brimscombe are finishing their beer, and heading up the hill towards the Forest Green pitch at The Lawn. Charles joins the teams and supporters as they strut their way uphill, trying not to look out of puff to the opposing team.
Charles stops at his friend’s house in Forest Green. He’s come to pick up young Ernest, who was keen as ever to cheer for his local team. Charles and Ernest were seventeen years apart in age, but had always got on well. They saw each other most days, either at work at Woodchester, or around the lanes of the hamlet, high above the Nailsworth Valley.
Arriving at the Forest Green pitch, a sizeable crowd is standing along the touchline as the local villages do battle on the football field. It was the first league match for six years, because the Great War had rudely interrupted organised football.
And in the Forest Green team is Walter Beale, a dependable goal-scorer, and, more importantly to Ernest, a proud family member. Ernest was cheering Walter’s every touch, even when he missed a sitter! The game ended 1-1 so honours were shared. The spectators came onto the pitch at the end, to congratulate the players, and to celebrate a return to some sort of normality for Stroud valleys life.read more