An open day for local residents today at Highgate East cemetery - that's the 'newer' of the two wings of this wonderful valhalla. It's where Marx and George Eliot are buried, and it's still open for interments.
The chunky Grade 1 listed Marx memorial dates from the 1950s - he was moved from a more hidden away spot where the stone appears to have been vandalised. Among those who followed in his footsteps, Eric Hobsbawm, Raph Samuel and Paul Foot are buried nearby. As, by chance, is George Jacob Holyoake, the cooperator and freethinker, whose grave is adorned by a bust - that's him with the stylishly long hair and beard.
And there is of course the charm of the remarkable, the outlandish and the unexpected.
Shen Liknaitzky has sent me the audio of an interview she conducted with the historian Raphael Samuel more than twenty years ago about the history of May Day. Raph talks about his first May Day march as a youngster in London in 1942, and about the 'almost vanished collective culture' in which popular festivals such as May Day thrived. Do give it a listen:
This is the raw, unedited interview. She conducted it for a long vanished World Service programme called Postmark Africa (the first programme that ever put me on air!), and if you want to hear what the edited version sounded like, here it is:
Raph was one of the commanding figures in twentieth century social history and the main pioneering force behind the History Workshop movement. He championed what has sometimes been described as 'history from below', now an integral part of the pursuit of history. He was also a warm and charismatic figure, who his many friends remember with great warmth.
The boundless intellect and radical curiosity of the historian Raph Samuel , the founder of the History Workshop movement, turned towards the end of his life to issues of patriotism, Britishness and the heritage industry. He was affectionate, even commending, of aspects - aspects, mind you - of all these seams in our national life and culture. Raph died in 1996, but David Edgar has written a wise and considerable article for the Guardian on Raph's engagement with patriotism and national identity.
I had missed the article, but it's been brought to my attention - and now I hope yours - by Felix Driver, a fellow editor of History Workshop Journal. A 'surprising and heartwarming piece to find even in the Guardian', Felix comments, 'when memories have become so short.'
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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