Thursday, March 5, 2009

Whose Side Were You On?

According to my wireless this morning, it all kicked off twenty five years ago today. Am I really that old? Was that really me really shaking my collection box in Watford High Street back in 1984? Seems like a life time away - hope you enjoy (?) the memories.



I've put The Council Collective track last on the list so you can ignore it if you want. Musically, it may not be to everyone's taste (let's just say, it hasn't aged too well) but I think Paul's heart was in the right place and the message probably got through to more people than The Redskins' did. I included it for historical completeness and because the signed 12" (signed by Paul Weller, Mick Talbot and Steve White) is one of my proudest possessions. I also have a Miners' Strike sweatshirt with the year 1985 on - instead of the more common 1984!

So come on, 'Spill the Beanfields - what did you do in the strike?

14 comments:

Abahachi said...

'Enjoy'??? Twenty-five years and still not forgotten or forgiven - and I was in Surrey at the time...

CaroleBristol said...

I was in my local Labour Party at the time and we had a massive Miners' Support Group.

We were twinned with a pit over in South Wales and we collected food, money, toys, pretty much anything that was useful.

Bristol had a mining industry back before the second world war and one old lady used to donate food and money every week because her late husband had been a miner and he'd been a striker and union activist way back then.

Once she got talking she was incredible, loads of stories about life before the Welfare State, it was quite shocking listening to her.

She was pretty much as far left as you could be and incredibly militant and anti Thatcher.

Chris said...

It was probably my only dedicated political act, collecting for the miners' families in Chorlton Precinct every Saturday morning. It got difficult when someone dropped a rock through a scab driver's windscreen but generally there was a very positive response. However, I do remember being studiously ignored by Richard Madeley on his way to the supermarket...

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Abahachi - yes, I suppose 'enjoy' wasn't quite the right word but I think some good did come out of it all. Large groups of people became politicised in a way that they wouldn't have without the conflict. I remember hearing a speech by a woman from the Nottinghamshire Miners' Support Group that opened my (relatively) young, middle-class eyes to ideas I'd never thought of before. She wasn't an accomplished public speaker but she spoke with passion and a sense of pride and dignity that I just wasn't ready for. It made me sit up and take notice in a way that no other speech had done before and no other has done since.

I was also lucky enough to hear Dennis Skinner speaking at the same meeting - again, inspirational stuff.

Can we enjoy the music, at least?

ShivSidecar said...

This is my musical memory of the strike: http://www.discogs.com/release/50794 - strongly influenced by Keith LeBlanc's "Malcolm X - No Sell Out".

How you can hear it now, I've no idea.

CaroleBristol said...

From a couple of years before the Miner's Strike but still massively popular in Bristol clubs at the time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8-RvL88sEQ

DarceysDad said...

What did I do?

Keep my head down.

Mostly because the Nottinghamshire side of the DsD clan were deeply involved, the majority as miners but the police were represented too. I don't 'do' conflict, and was having trouble dealing with problems of my own. Not proud of my hiding now, but truth be told, probably wouldn't behave any differently if something similar happens now.

Partly because I'd secretly helped vote the Mad Cow back in at the previous year's election, (because I thought Michael Foot as PM was just too scary a thought): In mitigation, m'lud, I was already regretting that vote ...

Ah well, we can't all have glorious warrior pasts.

sourpus said...

I was a 20 year old, two thirds of the way through a spell totalling 18 months on the dole, straight out of school. I came from a traditional working class background - im not talking materially, but rather culturally - and I was a member of the old Labour Party at that time, proudly so.

The miners strike, like the Falklands debacle two years earlier, was just one of the reasons why I struggled to like the Eighties in almost any way - with the exception of a whole lot of popular music and a few choice films - for most of the time since it ended.

It was very hard to watch what seemed to me to be a slow massacre of so many of the things that seemed valuable and real to me at the time. I dont really blame Thatch anymore (I used to) but I was at quite a tender age to be feeling those kind of feelings and they made a difference for a very long time afterwards.

In 84, I did some A levels at night school to fill in the time, one of which was Sociology, which politicised me all the more and then spent about a year trying to get a place in a University to study it - like a lot of other poor suckers who couldnt find a job.

Here's a sourpus-type true tale...As I travelled up on the train from Leicester to my Leeds Uni interview, I remember seeing Arthur Scargill a few seats ahead in the (expensive still) second class carriage I was riding in, on his way back to Sheffield, presumably from London. Coming back from the carzy, I had the chance to look into his eyes, as I passed; he looked very tired and sad looking.

In supporting his union, I was fighting a one man fight in my home constituency, where the Tories hadn't lost in decades. A lot of people I lived near and went to school with had no time for the miners.

I struggle to see what good came from it all, I have to say. Maybe that I was ultimately inspired to leave the UK 13 years later because the political and social bad news just kept coming, which gave me an outlook I wouldnt have been able to collect otherwise.

Shoey said...

If memory serves, (& sometimes it does) this coincided with the demise of the GLC and lot's of pro-miner, anti-Thatch events on the left bank. New Order at the Festival Hall, of all places, was one miner's benefit. Recall awesome acoustics & exasperated ushers failing to keep anyone sitting in their assigned seats. Another highlight was the Pouges headlining an outdoor concert on the final drunken night of the GLC with hoards of revellers waving v-signs across the river.

ToffeeBoy said...

OK - my ultimate Miners' Benefit Gig lineup:

The date: 19 January 1985
The place: Brixton Academy
The bands: The Woodentops, Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera, Orange Juice
The result: ToffeeBoy heaven!

And I've still got the poster to prove it...

goneforeign said...

Toffee: Thanks for this, it's nice to see the support for that cause, I wasn't there but I followed it from here and of course was 100% in support. We had our own similar problems, namely Reagan, he fired all the air traffic controllers for wanting a union and simultaneously launched a war against the Sandinista peasants in Nicaragua: I hated Reagan as much as Thatcher, what a pair and look where they've led us.
Enjoyed the Gil and Bragg music.

TracyK said...

What, no Shirt Of Blue by The Men They Couldn't Hang? Between The Wars is still so powerful,when Billy played it at the May Day free festival the Monday after the 1996 election and Labour's success, we were all so euphoric, everyone crying with joy. God, how naive that seems now.

Abahachi said...

Anyone else watch the BBC4 Nye Bevan programme this evening? There's now a very good Nye Bevan beer from a microbrewery in the valleys; highly recommended....

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Abahachi - no I missed that - thanks for drawing it to my attention. Time for TV On Demand I think....