Give Thanks to the Book of Trespass

Give Thanks to the Book of Trespass When you’re walking footloose and fancy-free Along some seemingly ancient footpath, Checking your progress on the OS map, Senses working XTC overtime, (Apophenia! You’re part of it all! Just look at the view!) It’s hard to remember that this feeling Is legal in only eight per cent Of William Blake’s green and pleasant land. We have been enclosed by enclosure. That’s why our footpaths are so circumscribed: These are not footpaths to high sky freedom, But meanders into false consciousness And beguiling illusions of liberty: Pilgrims’ Progress to Herbert Marcuse’s Conception of Repressive Tolerance, And Robert Frost’s poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’. We look ahead and become accustomed To the hedges, fences, walls and barbed wire. It all seems so normal and timeless. We forget John Clare when near a hedgerow. And we forget the western cowboy plains, The industrialised warfare of the western front, And the colonial subjugation Symbolised by the silhouette Of barbed wire stretching into the distance. It was called No Man’s Land in the First World War. That land between the lines of barbed wire. For King and Country. Well, eight per cent of it. ‘If you want the old battalion, I know where they are, I know where they are, I know where they are, If you want to find the old battalion, I know where they are, They’re hanging on the old barbed wire, I’ve seen ’em, I’ve seen ’em, hanging on the old barbed wire. I’ve seen ’em, I’ve seen ’em, hanging on the old barbed wire.’   Written after reading The...
Read More

Walking the Wall

Walking the Wall from Walbridge to Brimscombe In the early years of the twentieth century, A jingoistic electoral cry appeared: ‘We want eight and we won’t wait!’ (The eight being dreadnoughts or battleships), Well, we waited at Walbridge for a bit And almost numbered...

read more

Walking with Charles Dickens

Stickin’ with Dickens by Katie McCue: No Deviations Stickin’ with Dickens- In happy anticipation I stepped on to the platform at Paddington station with my two companions. I was ready and more than willing to put myself in the very capable hands of Stuart Butler...

read more

A Ghost Pub Pilgrimage

A Ghost Pub Pilgrimage through Stroud and the Five Valleys
Raising funds for the Trussell Trust in September

Walk and/or bicycle your way through this list of pubs.
Tick them off.
Keep a diary or a record if you wish.
Take photos for the archive.

Let these pub names and addresses
Come alive again
(‘Have another?’
‘I don’t mind if I do.’)
And help us all out in these hard times;
Let’s find them and toast them with imaginary pints
On a series of Ghost Pub Pilgrimages on foot or on bicycle,
And if you know of any other ghost pubs or inns,
Please send them in …

Do the list in any order.
On your own and/or in a group.
And raise funds in any way you wish for the Trussell Trust.

Perhaps you have personal or family memories
Of old times spent in some of these inns:
Got stories to tell? Please send them in.
Perhaps draw pub sign for these lost gathering places,
Or perhaps write a poem about the pub name,
Or have a group rendition of The Listeners by Walter de la Mere.

With thanks to Geoff Sandles
and his invaluable and necessary
Stroud Valley Pubs Through Time
And his wonderful website
And Pubs of the Old Stroud Brewery,
By Wilfred Merrett

Adam & Eve, Paradise, (formerly The Plough Inn), A46
The Bell, (bombed 1941) Bell Street
Bunch of Grapes, Cheltenham Road
Cross Hands, Stammages Lane
Fleece Inn, Bisley Street
Golden Heart, Tibbiwell Street
New Inn, St Mary’s Street
Red Lion
Star Inn, Gloucester Street
White Horse, Vicarage Street

read more

East India Company Walk

The information boards at Chalford intrigue,
Because of the lack of information:
At Chalford Vale and along the canal,
We are told about the local links
With the East India Company,
But we are not told about the practice
Of the East India Company;
The information boards are products of their time …
Times change and context is needed.

We start this contextualisation
Revealing a hidden colonial history
Within this leafy Cotswold landscape,
With a heat-wave peripatetic.

We start at Seville’s Mill in Chalford,
‘Today I would like to acknowledge
The Tory new mantra for History:
‘Retain and explain’,
Coupled with their ‘Culture Wars’ assertions:
‘You can’t change and airbrush history’,
And ‘The British Empire was a Good Thing’,
By letting the ‘Past Speak for Itself’,
From the pages of Jack P. Greene’s erudite tome,
Evaluating Empire and Confronting Colonialism
in Eighteenth-Century Britain’:

read more

Stroud Scarlet and William Cuffay: An Exploration

We have written before about Stroud Scarlet, the slave trade, and triangles of conjecture. (See point 5 at https://sootallures.wixsite.com/topographersarms/post/a-community-curriculum )

But what of William Cuffay?

William’s mother, Juliana Fox, was born in Kent, whilst his once enslaved father, Chatham Cuffay, made it to Kent from St Kitts. William Cuffay, of mixed-heritage, born in 1788, became a famous Chartist leader in the mid nineteenth century and then an activist after transportation to Tasmania. ( See https://sootallures.wixsite.com/topographersarms/post/william-cuffay for an imaginative reconstruction of William’s life.)
William is one of the first working-class leaders of colour, and possibly the most famous. There is a campaign for a memorial to honour him in the Medway area of Kent:

‘Hi Stuart …
We are working with Medway Afro-Caribbean Association to get a plaque for Cuffay in Medway, hopefully in time for Black History Month. They need at least £3000 and have been talking to Medway Council who have only offered them £1500. This is something the Trade Union Movement could (and should) easily pay for and we will be approaching local branches and national unions for support. It might even encourage them to think about some sort of memorial to Cuffay in London.

There is much more to Cuffay’s story than can be put on a plaque so we are also looking to organise some sort of annual event so that Cuffay and the Chartists, a key part of both Black and working-class history, become much better known.’

read more