For three years, from 1948 to 1950, the communist Daily Worker published an annual cricket handbook - a sort of poor man's Wisden. The Daily Worker (which later metamorphosed into the Morning Star) always prided itself on its sports coverage. Cayton, the paper's racing tipster - named after Cayton Street, which was at one time the Daily Worker's home - was particularly well regarded. But you don't really think of cricket as a sport to interest the comrades.
Perhaps that's not fair. After all the veteran Marxist C.L.R. James had a profound love - and know;ledge - of cricket and wrote about it luminously. And unlikely as it might seem, there is a communist cricket website. But while there were a handful of communist footballers and speedway stars, I can't think of any Bolshevik fast bowlers or opening bats. Can you?
All this has been prompted by a very kind gift - thanks Sam! - of the 1949 Daily Worker Cricket Handbook. It features an article by Harold Larwood - the 'bodyline' bowler - lamenting the decline of the fast bowler. And it includes details of Lancashire and Bradford league-level cricket
I've been able to find out very little about A.A, Thomas, the paper's cricket correspondent - except that he seems to have had a role (with the grander title of 'Sports Editor') in the creation of the Daily Worker Football Handbook in 1946. That kept going for at least seven seasons.
All the other papers were doing sports handbooks, so why not the good old DW!
And is politics evident in the handbook? Not a lot, But there are just glimpses of a class analysis as when, in the editorial, the decline of the 'amateur' in first-class cricket is explained as follows: 'Monopoly, the concentration of wealth, has pushed the medium-scale industrialist out of existence and his sons out of unpaid cricket.'
Howzat?!! I'd say well wide of the off stump!
What was the longest student sit-in of that turbulent summer of revolt: 1968? Well, you've probably guessed that it was at the Guildford School of Art. The students - supported by many of the faculty - stayed in for eight weeks.
The Guildford occupation began a few days after the better-known sit-in at Hornsey College of Art. As at Hornsey, it was sparked mainly by local grievances: concerns about a proposed amalgamation; the rigidity of divisions between different departments; an old-fashioned and over-bearing college management which didn't see any need to consult with or involve its students (or its teaching staff).
There was also a fevered debate about the structure, and purpose, of art education. And of course, there was also - to quote Thunderclap Newman - 'something in the air'. Students in Berlin and Paris had shown the way; they were impatient for change and demanded to be heard.
The story of the Guildford sit-in is well told in this new book by two students involved in the protest. Claire Grey kept a diary through the sit-in and also has many of the leaflets which are reproduced along with wonderful photos by John Walmsley.
The book is wonderfully well produced on high quality paper. It's the sort of publishing venture that deserves support. Here's where you can order a copy:
I came across the Guildford story while researching the British New Left. For the students, the sit-in was exciting and empowering. But it ended on a sour notes, with the victimisation of those lecturers who had backed the students and supported their demands.
The photos of the sit-in have been posted here with the permission of John Walmsley. There's many more in the book!
To the Tate Britain in the past week for the launch event of their spectacular Women in Revolt! exhibition - it's on until April. Not my normal habitat. But hey!
I was invited by Chandan Fraser - that's her above with some photos she took of the Women's Liberation Movement in the early Seventies that feature in the exhibition.
It was the first time we had met - though we've exchanged a lot of emails. I was able to help organise an exhibition in Oxford a couple of years ago of Chandan's photos of the first Women's Liberation conference. Indeed, the exhibition was staged in the venue of that landmark conference - what was once Ruskin College - thanks to the marvellous Four Corners.
Great to meet; and wonderful that Chandan's work is now so widely recognised. Some of her photos have been bought by the National Portrait Gallery, no less.
This is Chandan with her old friend Mica Nava. She lived with Mica and Pepe Nava when she was a photography student (and then known as Sally Fraser) at the London College of Printing.
It was through Mica that she first got involved with the feminist movement. The Tufnell Park women's group was one of the earliest to be established in London.
It was quite a bun fight at the Tate - but I was delighted to see another pioneering feminist, Jo Robinson (one of the Misbehaving gang who took part in the spectacular disruption of the 1970 Miss World televised final) was there with her partner Joel.
Such a fun - and glamorous - evening. And do be sure to get down to the Tate Britain and see the exhibition.
Lewes is a Sussex town with real charm - and a brilliant second-hand bookshop and wonderful flea markets. It was a revelation when I visited for the first time in the past week.
What I hadn't expected is that Lewes would have taken the radical and freethinker Tom Paine to its heart.
The portrait of the man above is on the wall of a bijou fruit, veg and food market. And there's lots of Paine around, even though he only lived here for six years.
If truth be told, Paine was from Thetford in Norfolk where his father was a stay maker - stays being a particularly restrictive type of corset. So Paine was sometimes caricatured, as here, tying up stays.
He was more famous of course for writing The Rights of Man, and championing both American independence and French republicanism. Good for Tom!
Lewes does not strike me as a bastion of leftism, or even liberalism. But you can't walk through the town centre without being assaulted by reminders of Lewes's most famous (if fleeting) onetime resident revolutionary.
I suppose it helps that he lived in one of the sweetest buildings in this distinctly pretty small town ...
... and of course, as Paine is lionised in the US (where he went to live after tiring of Sussex), it can only help in bringing in high-rolling tourists.
And even better that you can toast Tom Paine in the excellent local brew, Harvey's.
Wonderfully, the local tourist information office has details of a Tom Paine trail. Try it out! And remember those words:
'We have it in our power to build the world anew!'
What a delightful surprise Riga proved to be. It's a capital city of 600,000 - that's almost a third of the total population of Latvia, a Baltic state which gained its independence (again) in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It has some startling Art Nouveau architecture in the new town -
Doesn't that guy in the Egyptian headgear look just a little like Tommy Cooper?
And walking the streets - although often windy and a little parky - is a constant surpise and delight.
But the old city on the banks of the Daugava is Riga's real gem.
Interspersed among towering Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox churches are some remnants of the Soviet era. On the riverbank there's a powerful monument erected in 1959 to the hundreds killed in Latvia's Bloody Sunday in 1905.
This came a few days after Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg, the massacre of demonstrators which sparked an attempt at revolution. In Riga, a huge anti-Tsar protest was also dispersed with violence - but most of the casualties came when the crowd tried to escape across the frozen river and many died of drowning and exposure when the ice cracked and the freezing water swallowed them.
Nearby on Town Hall Square is a solid red granite monument to the Latvian riflemen of the First World War era, who fought first for and then against the Tsar.
Alongside is the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, telling the story of the three occupations the country suffered during the Second World War: by the Soviet Union; by Nazi Gemany; and then by Moscow again.
What was once Lenin Street is now Brivibas (Freedom) Boulevard
The commanding Freedom Monument was first unveiled in 1935, when Latvia was an independent nation. The statue on top is of Mother Latvia. Laying flowers here during the Soviet era could be punished by deportation to Siberia.
For a city which was nominally atheist for several decades, there are an awful lot of stylish churches (and a synagogue). The city skyline is marked by some spectacular church towers.
This gold cupola adorns the Orthodox cathedral of the Nativity of Christ. Lutheranism is the biggest denomination. But a quarter of Latvia's population are ethnic Russians, and Russian is widely spoken.
It's fun walking round the old city - eating cheap local cuisine at the Lidos - trying the excellent locally brewed beer - and above all, enjoying the cityscape and the architecture.
Latvia is now part of the European Union. One unintended consequence is a steady drift of the young to more prosperous parts of the EU. The country's population is declining.
And of course being a small Baltic nation bordering on Putin's Russia isn't always a comfortable existence.
This is an extraordinary chapel - a former convent chapel - which is both sumptuous in design, and an extraordinary statement about women and their religious role.
All the attendant saints depicted at Christ's crucifixion are women. So too are most of the saints celebrated in the stained glass. And this was back in the 1860s!
This is All Saints Chapel on the south side of Margaret Street, near Oxford Street, and just opposite the imposingly high church All Saints church. The chapel and convent were the home of an Anglican order of women religious, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor.
I knew nothing of this chapel, but discovered it because the chapel is currently hosting an exhibition of works by Louise Bourgeois and others: the altar piece, so to speak, is hers, 'Brother and Sister'; so too is the soap stone style sculpture, 'Woman with a Secret'.
But it's the chapel itself which is the star.
The wall painting of the crucifixion was the work of John Richard Clayton.
Just as exceptional is the stained glass. Take a look:
Quite a congregation - is that the collective noun? - of women saints!
And other details of the church are wonderful too.
The sisters left some time back. Much of the building is now, apparently, serviced apartments; the chapel is used occasionally, as now, as a public exhibition space.
It's amazing what you can find behind a very ordinary looking door in central London!
I'm posting this leaflet because a friend recently tried to find a copy online and couldn't. So here it is!
The British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign was established in 1973, largely by pacifists. It was much less stridently republican than the larger Troops Out Movement.
Fourteen activists - the BWNIC 14 - were prosecuted for 'conspiracy to incite disaffection' for publishing this leaflet. In 1975, after an eleven week trial, they were acquitted, Ross Bradshaw has written about BWNIC here.
I suspect this leaflet was not an original issue, but republished during the BWNIC 14 campaign. And 'Some Information for Disaffected Soldiers' was itself a revised, and more carefully worded, version of a leaflet for which the peace campagner Pat Arrowsmith had been convicted and jailed.
And who were the BWNIC 14? Well, in alphabetical order: Albert Beale (journalist, London); Wendy Butlin (secretary, London); Phil Cadbury (student, London); Bill Hetherington (social worker, Walsall); Juliette Hornsby (secretary, Chelsea); John Hyatt (journalist, Nottingham); Frank Keeley (unemployed, Liverpool); Ronnie Lee (soliticor’s clerk, Luton); Chris Roper (aeronautical engineer, Essex); Paul Steed (student, London); Bob Thomas (factory worker, Cardiff); Rick Walker (unemployed, Liverpool); Mike Wescott (make-up artist, Birmingham); Gwyn Williams (social worker, London).
And here they are!
Isn't this wonderful! A postcard sent from Mafeking in August 1897 to Major F.D. Lugard in Ngamiland.
Major F.D. Lugard is Frederick Dealtry Lugard, born in India and later in life the Governor of Hong Kong and the first Governor-General of Nigeria. He was a pioneer of indirect rule, of using traditional forms of hierarchy, deference and governance to administer the colonies. He became Lord Lugard in 1928.
And N'gamiland? Well, in 1896-7, Lugard led an expedition to Lake Ngami in modern-day Botswana, just to the north of the Kalahari desert, on behalf of the British West Charterland Company. At about the time this card was despatched, he was recalled and sent to West Africa.
Perhaps that's why this postcard is knocking around. Perhaps it never reached Lugard and someone else pocketed it as a souvenir.
This was part of my happy haul at Much Binding in Cromer the other day.
This is Andy Slovak in his Aladdin's cave of a bookshop - praise (from me) doesn't come much higher than that - in the Norfolk seaside town of Cromer.
Much Binding (that's what the bookshop was called - a riff on the venerated radio comedy 'Much Binding in the Marsh') has, sadly, closed for good. But Andy very kindly allowed me in yesterday to have a last, lingering browse of his shelves and boxes.
It was my third and final visit to Much Binding - I blogged about my last visit four years ago. Much joy was had. And a fair bit of dosh spent.
Andy's shop was unusual in stocking quite a lot of odd copies of left and radical papers and journals. Just up my street!
I was delighted to find a few copies of the Black Power paper The Hustler, published in Notting Hill from 1968.
Black Dwarf was perhaps the best political paper of that era, and some of the covers featured striking drawings by the rapier-like Ralph Steadman - recognise Harold Wilson here?
Tariq Ali and other IMGers on Black Dwarf broke away to set up Red Mole, not as good a paper but again the iconography is interesting:
And who wouldn't love a copy of the International Times with the Furry Freak Brothers on the cover (this is from 1970):
Andy also had some runs of old anarchist papers in French and Spanish - I picked up a couple of copies of an Argentine anarchist publication from the 1920s:
And yes, I did buy a fair few pamphlets and handbills too. That's for another blog.
In the shop window, something quite remarkable ... and beautiful,. A hand-painted Bengali election banner. (No I didn't buy it!)
Amazing what you could come across at Much Binding by the Sea!
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