Tuesday, 11 September 2012

One Engagement, One Death and One Big Memorial

We woke up to discover that our garden had been taped off by the police. Sad to say the young woman who fell from the tree last night did not survive. And though this is hardly Carriacou blog material, it is sadly too important not to mention.

On to Varshika's brother's engagement party at the Hindu Temple just down the road. Here Vinny and Nipa were looking forward a life together. Half an hour of top tunes from the Doves; Vinny particularly wanted Chasing Cars. He got it, and we also resusciated Sheherazade, on the grounds that this was an Indian wedding, and this was a tune from as far east and as near to India as we could get. The rest of the band humoured me. Varshika was too busy being a sister to play with us so we were: me, Bex, Amy, Tim, Gig. Actually as I am the band leader, the players should humour me but they did try to stop  Mad World going into the repertoire when we played at the Secure Psychiatric Unit a few years back. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

Next I am off to a memorial to the miners of Allerton Bywater and surrounding pits who lost their lives at their workplace. I join the march led by the Kippax Brass Band, and immediately spot my old Foxwood ex-colleague, history teacher, Colin Burgon. Colin went on to be the MP for this area, but why I remember him in particular, and why I have joined this march is because:

Way back in the eighties when I first taught at the late and very very great Foxwood School, Colin organised the most memorable and amazing thing: not only did he persuade well over half the staff to contribute £1 a week for the duration of the Miners' Strike; but also he got quite a number of us to meet him at whichever designated meeting point [I recall the Dog and Gun on the York Road as one], at 5 a.m. on successive Mondays, where we would be told which the chosen pit was for us to picket, and then we would go, and have a spirited tug of war with the police, have a shout at the returning, strike-breaking miners, and then we would all go to school and teach a day's work at what was generally agreed a challenging school.

When the miners' strike reached its hideous conclusion, Colin invited some of them to our staff end of term do, where I was by now Common Room President, and surprised everybody especially myself by writing and singing a song for them. I played a simple descending bass line on a school cello, and sang, apropos of our donations,
      "Well, we've been digging deep for the mines
      "If it's not them, it'll be us next time .. . "

 . . . . and indeed, it was the eighties. When Margaret had finished with the miners she set about the teachers; and so, it was with this memory that I joined this march today. To unveil the memorial to the fallen miners in Allerton Bywater. Leeds Council leader Keith Wakefield spoke; YEP journalist, Pete Lazenby who had done so much to publicise this memorial was there, long whiskers and jungle hat. Many well-known people from the mining world were there. This event was attended in thousands, and also featured in the local media.
It was the end of a long and very hot day. We have a barbecue, and Lola cut the grass with a pair of scissors.

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