Archive | March 2021

How’s this for a coincidence?

This picture is one of the many taken at the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 and below is a map of one of the areas in which it was fought. Most people have never heard of this battle and until this morning I didn’t know that I had actually witnessed part of it.

Perhaps I ought to begin at the beginning. A Facebook friend of mine called Bru was talking about the difference between the way people behaved during the second world war and how they behave now and during our conversation I remembered an occasion when I watched the police taking the side of the Blackshirts a very long time ago. She was horrified that the police were on the side of the fascists and the fascists were chanting ‘Kill the Jews, Kill the Jews.’ And as we talked it occurred to me that this might have been part of the Battle of Cable Street that I’d watched as a very small child and that set me wondering.

The memory was very clear but the details were not, I knew I was very young, but not exactly how young nor where I was in London, except that it was in the year after my little sister was born which would have been 1936 and it was in the Autumn and that Dardy and I had gone up to London to visit ‘Petticoat Lane’. I can remember how quickly she took me back to the underground and got me out of harms way when we saw the demonstration ahead of us. We never reached Petticoat Lane that day.

So this morning when my lovely Charlotte arrived I set her the task of discovering whether it really could have been this famous battle that I’d seen all those years ago. And when we looked at the detail together, all of them fitted my memory. We would have arrived at Aldgate East underground and the demonstration was happening just ahead of us at the corner of Whitechapel High Street and Commercial Road. There were policemen and police horses there and they had been sent to clear a way for the fascist demonstration to get through.

And as if that weren’t coincidence enough, Lottie and I had been describing a fictitious demonstration that is taking place in exactly the same route up Whitechapel High Street and past Aldgate East. Hairs on the back of the neck rising!

And while I was telling Lottie how much I liked the traders in Petticoat Lane, who were all Jewish and gentle and spoke a mixture of English and Yiddish and were always kindness itself and that these were the men that the fascists were determined to drive out, I remembered something else.

I liked them so much, that years later I put two of them that I particularly remembered in the novel called Everybody’s Somebody. I gave them names, as though they were fictional characters, but I drew them from the life.

So I thought I would finish this chapter of coincidences with a quotation about them from the novel. This is truly how they were in Petticoat Lane.

“It was an extraordinary outing. Rosie had never been in a street so crammed full of people nor heard so many voices all shouting at once, nor seen so many stalls in such a narrow space, nor smelt so many old clothes, piled in tousled heaps on every stall and hanging from every available hook and rail, dolefully flapping their sleeves in the rush of air as the crowds pushed from place to place.

At first she tried saying ‘’Scuse me!’ but that was no good at all and, after a few minutes, she was pushing and shoving with the rest. They arrived at a shop draped with clothes and presided over by a small plump man in a Jewish coat and a black yarmulke embroidered in gold thread. He threw up his hands in delight when he saw Kitty and greeted her by name. ‘Pretty Kitty Jackson, as I live an’ breathe. Vhat I can do for you, my darlink?’

Kitty explained what she wanted and within seconds he had pulled four possible dresses from his rails and held them out for inspection, extolling the virtues of each one. ‘Nice bit a’ schmutter,’ he said, offering a blue velvet dress with a long stain down the front of it, ‘or you could try this one,’ showing a yellowing white lace. ‘That’ud wash up lovely.’ Then a pink skirt, ‘just your colour darlin’’ and finally a faded grey dress with a dilapidated collar. But Rosie grimaced and shook her head at all of them.

‘Well thank you very much, Mr Levy,’ Kitty said. ‘But they ain’t quite the thing we ‘ad in mind. I think we’ll go on looking.’ And when Mr Levy gave a rueful grimace they were off into the throng again and pushing their way to another shop.

This one was run by a tall man with a horribly tangled grey beard and kind eyes, which lit up when he heard what they were looking for.

‘Now ain’t you the lucky ones,’ he said, ‘I got just the thing. Come in yesterday. Vait there, my darlinks.’ And he disappeared into the dark cavern of his shop and reappeared with an elegant cream coloured suit hanging over his arm as if it had fainted. He hung it on the nearest rail, pushing the other clothes aside to make room for it and smoothed the sleeves and the skirt with a reverent hand. ‘Vhat you think of that, eh?’ he asked, looking from one to the other.

Rosie made her mind up at once. It was just the thing, it looked so soft and so stylish, with all those little buttons running straight down the coat and straight down the skirt and all covered in the same pretty silk. But before she could say she wanted it, Kitty started to bargain.

‘It’s good cloth,’ she said nodding her head from side to side. ‘I’ll give yer that. All depends how much yer want for it.’

‘For you darlink, two quid an’ cheap at the price.’

Kitty made a grimace. ‘Oh do me a favour, Mr Segal,’ she said. ‘Twenty bob more like.’

Mr Segal spread his hands before her placatingly. ‘For you darlink, thirty shillin’,’ he offered. ‘Can’t drop it no further’n that or there’ll be no margin.’

Another sideways nod of the head and a pause for thought. ‘Twenty five.’

Again the hands were spread. ‘Oy, oy. You drive hard bargain. I tell you vhat I do. Call it twenty-eight an’ I throw in a pair of shoes for free. Vhat could be fairer?’ And the shoes were produced from a dark chest of drawers just inside the door and held out for Rosie’s inspection. They were the prettiest shoes she’d ever seen and matched the suit to perfection. There was no doubt in her mind at all that she would buy the entire outfit. And she did.”

This entry was posted on March 26, 2021. 3 Comments

Hold the front page

The Prime Mendacitor has actually told the truth about himself believe it or not! And here’s the evidence quoted from the BBC – believe that or not! The times apparently are a changin’. So I’ll quote this straight from the BBC website

“Boris Johnson has told a private meeting of Tory MPs that the success of the UK’s Covid vaccine programme was because of “capitalism” and “greed”.

And even more miraculously the BBC got their information from The Sun! Mr Murdoch will have something to say about that, especially as the quotation here was even more relevant and typical of the speaker than the quieter version of it on the BBC website. Try this for size:

“The prime minister’s full remarks, which first appeared in the Sun newspaper, were reported to be: “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.” ”

We’ve all known for a very long time that this man is driven by greed and is an admiring advocate of the capitalist system and now here it is in black and white and straight out of the Mendacitor’s mouth. Of course to put the matter straight as to borrow Owen Jones’ words from The Guardian this morning: “‘Greed’ has no role in the UK’s vaccine success... The vaccine programmes is being delivered via our state-run NHS, while the country’s test and trace system has made “no clear impact”, despite private consultants charging up to £6,250 per day and Serco’s profits surging thanks to the £37bn programme.

That’s where the greed is MY FRIENDS and if that isn’t the ugliest thing you’ve seen and heard for a long while, I’d be very surprised.

I will say this again, even though I know I’ve said it here before. Boris Johnson is driven by excessive greed for money and power. And to satisfy that greed he has to pull a daily con-trick in the House and on TV which involves him in continuous and deliberate lies. One of the most odious of which is his projection of his personality as an amiable buffoon, HE IS NO SUCH THING! He is an ugly and dangerous man and sooner or later we will have to come together – not to join forces with his favourites and acolytes, but to demand his resignation. It will not be easy because he has courted and won the support of the multi-billionaires and press barons who currently control EVERYTHING about our society.

Maybe somebody should remind him of two things. 1. that there is such a thing as sin and that two of the four sins ‘crying to heaven for vengeance’ according to the Christian Catechism are ‘oppression of the poor’ and ‘defrauding labourers of their wages.’ 2. That there have been several national revolutions against the greed of leaders, one in 1765 in America and the other and even more bloody, in 1789 in France.

Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras.
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

We managed to have a bloodless revolution in this country in 1945. I would dearly like to think that we could do it again now. But for that we would need some highly principled men and women. Like these.

Gender based violence.

The brutal murder of Sarah Everard has shocked everybody in the country and it can’t be a surprise to anyone that the response to it was immediate, passionate and angry. The women who came out on to Clapham Common with candles and flowers to show their anger and sorrow, were acting on behalf of everybody who had heard the news about the murder and was moved and horrified by it. But then the police, having been briefed by Priti Patel, decided to disperse their gentle vigil with unnecessary violence and their actions made the situation infinitely worse. The pictures of a group of bulky policemen pulling a girl to the ground and kneeling on her, were deeply shocking.

But it has led us all to a turning point. Women everywhere are saying it is a disgrace in our day and age that a woman can’t walk down the street without being verbally or physically abused and that it can’t be tolerated any more. They’re quite right, as the majority of us know very well but it has led to newspapers generalising about these awful things and talking and writing as though all men are violent towards women and it has to be said that not all men are violent towards women and there are women who are violent too, towards their children, the animals that have the misfortune to be in their care and old people.

Most men are loving and gentle and are as appalled at the violence shown by other men to women passing by on the street and by police on duty to women daring to protest. These things are an abomination and we should all, men and women alike, be opposing them.

For violence is an expression of extreme hatred and most adults who show it have been brought up in such a way that they are full of negative and destructive emotions, jealousy, hatred, and even, terrible though it is to say it, being spoilt brats. For the spoilt brat feels it may do as it pleases and if it is full of hatred that it has every right to express it.

And before anyone tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about – as they well might – let me tell you all that I lived for the first nineteen years of my life with a violent abuser and that it was not male. It was female and as I watched her very carefully all through that time, I gradually learnt what made her tick and why she was so uncontrollably violent. I also know after such a childhood, that these badly warped characters can’t be changed by a law, although the law can be the start of change. They also need to be required to face the people they really are and be brought to the point when they sincerely want to change, and that would take very skilled psychiatric treatment, which would probably need to go on for a considerable time.

There is a job ahead of all of us and we are all involved in it now. And if I’m being provocative then so be it.

This entry was posted on March 18, 2021. 2 Comments

Lost art

This gave me an attack of the giggles, which is no bad thing in these peculiar times and does cheer you up, so I thought I’d like to share it.

But let me begin at the beginning. It all grew from another blog I wrote just recently about the spring. which I called ‘Dancing with the daffodils’. One of my neighbours read it and enjoyed it and decided to bring me a bunch of daffodils from his garden by way of saying thank you. I found a vase for them and put them in the middle of the long table in the conservatory and watched them come into full bloom. I thought it was a lovely present and enjoyed it every day. I hadn’t just sat and enjoyed a bunch of flowers for a long time, because I usually go from my breakfast table to my desk and start work, so this was like a holiday. And as I sat by the table admiring them, it occurred to me that I hadn’t done any painting for a very long time either and thought how pleasant it would be to paint these flowers. My paintbrushes were all standing ready in a tall pot in my study. All I had to do was find my paints and sketchbooks. I set off at once to find them.

And I couldn’t do it. I searched on all the shelves and in all the cupboards in my study and found all sorts of interesting things I didn’t know I still possessed but there was no sign of my paints. So I tried the living room and searched in all the cupboards there. Nothing. By that time I was asking myself where on earth I would have put them and feeling quite cross with myself – and the daffodils were beginning to wilt. The next day I looked through the wardrobes. Zilch. The day after I rooted about under the stairs. Not a sign, although I found a packet of cat food and two umbrellas I didn’t expect. By this time, the daffodils and I were both looking sorry for ourselves. It was very sob and drat.

And then my lovely granddaughter/amanuensis Lottie gave me a hyacinth in bud in a pot and the need to paint was even more intense. I searched again without finding even a hint of paint or paper and the hyacinth burst into beautiful bloom. Finally, when the daffodils were as you see them in the picture and the hyacinth was luxuriant, my younger daughter arrived and I told her my tale of woe.

‘Don’t worry,’ she said. ‘I’ll find them.’ And love her dear heart she started her search, while I trailed after her, hopefully. The study. Nothing. The living room Nothing. The bedroom cupboards. Zilch, zilch, zilch. The cupboard under the stairs. Useless.

She’s a practical creature my Caroline. ‘They must be somewhere,’ she said. ‘They can’t just have disappeared. I’ll phone Lottie and see if she knows.’ Which she did. And our lovely Lottie knew exactly where it all was and gave us directions. It turned out, ridiculously, to be the one place where we hadn’t looked. A innocent cabinet in the living room which had always housed drinks. It was just so ridiculous it gave me a fit of the giggles which gave Caroline a fit of the giggles, which seemed a fitting way to end the search. Afterwards, when we’d got our breath back, I said, ‘If I told anyone this story they’d never believe it.’

So here it is.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2021. 2 Comments

Telling lies part 2

I’m putting this blog up again because it has become even more relevant then it was when I first put it together and that is because of one man’s superlative effort. Let me introduce you to him, if you haven’t heard of him, although I might say 10 million of us already have because we are now following his Twitter site. His name is Peter Stefanovic and he is a journalist, lawyer and film maker. This comes from his ‘’ site.

Stefanovic is a high profile Lawyer, no bullshit Journalist, blogger, Filmmaker, campaigner, Labour supporter and Political and Social Commentator widely known for his no nonsense films debunking Political deceit which have been watched over 250 Million times. Nominated for Legal Personality of the Year in 2016 he is a champion for social Justice and the NHS.

A short time ago, he put up a video showing the Prime Mendacitor in full flow, telling one lie after another and suggested to his followers that if they were as opposed to this behaviour as he was, they should re-tweet the video. As of yesterday it had been re-tweeted 10 million times. But Peter Stefanovic wants to push it even further and quite right too.

“Until UK media steps up & reports his shameful behavior,” He said in a Tweet yesterday. “Until every MP stands up & calls out this disgraceful national scandal, every single lie & falsehood spoken by Boris Johnson since he became PM remains completely unchallenged on the Parliamentary record. I wont accept that.”

I think he could turn out to be the man for our times. So here is my pennyworth in support, I put it up originally on March the 11th, but I make no excuse for putting it up again now, these things need saying over and over again.

Telling Lies

I don’t think there can be very many people alive at the moment who do not know that the ex-President of the United States and the current Prime Minister of the UK are compulsive liars. Many of us would say they are so removed from the truth that we shouldn’t believe a word they say. In fact their behaviour has been so brazen and open that it has almost become the norm. And sadly there is nothing new about a lying politician, as the poets tell us. And don’t worry, I’m not going to give them the oxygen of publicity in this blog by publishing their ugly, lying faces. Lets look at poets and good men instead.

Here is Rudyard Kipling writing in his poem Epitaphs of the War 1914-18.

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?”

And in our own time here is a Russian poet called Yevgeny Yevtushenko, writing on the same topic and with the same passion.


“Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world is wrong.
The young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.”

As our splendid Shelley said in the Defence of Poetry in 1821 “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

All of them are stating a truth that we are having to face on a daily basis and the big question they all beg is how on earth do those of us who value truth and honesty combat compulsive liars in power. Hitler and Goebbels called their lies ‘propaganda’ and felt completely justified in using it and it took a world war with massive loss of life to get rid of them and now here we are again being led by liars. Surely, surely there must be a quicker way than a world war to remove them. We just haven’t found it yet.

We need to put our heads together (if such a thing is now allowed) and design a powerful spotlight that we can play on our dishonest leaders every time they spout lies at us. And we also need to remember that there have been plenty of honest, truth telling politicians like the ones I’ve pictured below, who care for the people they’ve been elected to govern and don’t lie to us. Some have paid a terrible penalty for their honesty, but these are the leaders we need and the sort of men and women whose example we should be following.

And of course, it would help if we only had a press that understood that it is their job to tell the truth to power. We’ve got a very long way to go, but it is a way we must tread if we care about democracy and freedom.

Allons enfants de la Patrie.

This entry was posted on March 11, 2021. 2 Comments

Spring the sweet Spring.

A second blog this morning to cheer us up a little after the seriousness of the first one.

Spring has arrived in my garden in its usual exuberant way and I now have frogspawn in my pond as you can see and a new pet that I’ve called Annie, who comes to the door of my conservatory and taps on it to be fed. So I thought you might enjoy them too.

Nature can be cruel but it is also creative and tender and reaffirming.

And I hope you won’t feel I’m showing off too much if I add a poem I wrote a long time ago about a similar sudden arrival. I don’t think it ever had a title but it was fun to write.

Forsythia blazes golden in my garden,
Daffodils bob and sway, the hedge unfurls
Into a tender tangle of green curls,
Old fruit trees creak as new buds swell and harden.

Now finches fall in showers, thrushes sing
And blackbirds bounce in conflict, shrieking shrill,
Ponds fizz with tadpoles, squirmingly alive,
Trout leap, lambs stagger, piglets roll and thrive.
The whole world gleams and wriggles, nothing’s still
In the dizzying effulgence that is spring

Welcome back Persephone!

This entry was posted on March 5, 2021. 1 Comment

The privatisation of our NHS has begun.

Take a good look at these pictures folks they are ALL medical centres based in Camden, that have been run by our NHS. And let me quote a report from the Camden New Journal, which says:

“NHS funded contracts at Kings Cross Surgery, Brunswick Medical Centre, Somers Town Medical Centre and the Camden Health Improvement Practise for homeless patients are now ‘IN THE HANDS OF’ a subsidiary of the Centene Corporation”

I hope it makes you sit up as violently as I did when I read it.

It won’t surprise you to know that I checked out the Centene Corporation on Google. I discovered its address in St Louis, USA and its telephone number and also discovered the name and address of the company in New Cavendish Street in London which seems to have overseen the transaction, it is called Operose Health and claims to be ‘experts in working with complex health systems’.

Now I don’t know about you but I would call that privatisation by stealth and that, I need hardly tell you, is extremely dishonest and extremely dangerous. But should be no surprise to any of us who paid attention to Mark Britnell’s speech before the big American health companies in October 2010 which I reported in an earlier blog. He made it quite clear then that “GPs will have to aggregate purchasing power and there will be a big opportunity for those companies that can facilitate this process … In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider, not a state deliverer…The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

However, to quote Abraham Lincoln ‘You can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

But I have to hand it to this Tory party, they have prepared for this meticulously and in almost total secrecy. They’ve made sure that the press and the media were entirely on their side and will only say the things they allow them to say and they have run the cruellest and most lengthy of campaigns to silence the elected leader of the Labour Party who was one of the admirable few who understood what the Tories were about and were prepared to stand up and fight them. I keep waiting for this battle to be out in the open and for people to be told what is happening. But we have such crooks in power that I’m afraid this has got to be an undercover campaign which will be extremely difficult to maintain. Those of us who know what is going on are going to have to work our socks off to spread the information to as many other people as we possibly can.

Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire (might well be) arrivé !

This entry was posted on March 5, 2021. 3 Comments