Freedom and Bangor

Photo: Max Reeves / Trilobite Olmstead

NO time: but the day after the firebombing of Freedom Press (& bookshop) in Whitechapel, this picture emerges from the wreckage.

Headlines on this day were about:

  • Sam Cameron’s father being adviser (what is with this ‘er’, these days??) to Kuwait in its business interests (on the basis that he agrees not to use his insider knowledge from his days in the ConDem government)
  • the Earl of Cardigan being a loony tosspot collecting Jobseekers’ Allowance while training to be an HGV driver, and having several court appearances for assaulting trustees of the family estate for selling off paintings
  • the Secretary of State for Health’s proposals to abolish the NHS by stealth
  • and a piece on how the Chair of the Education Select Committee, who berated teachers for laziness over closing schools when it snowed, was privately educated and then failed his degree.

Tomorrow I’m off to Bangor, Wales, to do a reading. That is the Evans family patch, and it’s exciting to read in the town where my great-grandfather had his last church before emigrating to America. Capel Pendref. I’m pleased to say that my great-grandfather wrote a book, of which I have a copy here – you can buy it online, in fact, if you look it up – called The Healing of the Nations. It was published in 1922, in the aftermath of the Great War. That was a time when people had seen and lived dire things, and the situation probably looked pretty hopeless. In fact, look what was set in train only 11 years later.

Well, the book is largely an exploration of a new, ethical – and Christian, as he was a minister – way of living, based on explorations of the Arthurian legend (and In Memoriam, funnily enough; Tennyson was clearly big in their house). On page 203 he writes, in a way I’m sure he hoped was prescient:

In these days we are passing from one order of things to another, and all times of great change are full of danger and difficulty. Knowledge is every day extending, and the habits and thoughts of mankind are perpetually under the influence of new discoveries. In politics, the conservatives of today are more liberal than the radicals of fifty years ago. The old days of feudalism and slavery are gone for ever, and a more humanitarian spirit is at work. All lives are bound up together.

………..‘A starved dog at his master’s gate
………..Predicts the downfall of the state.’
……………(Wm Blake)

That was well before they started burning books.

I believe the poet Sean Bonney is organising a fundraising gig for Freedom, as well as talk of Donate a Poem for Freedom. Contact the shop for more details, I suppose.

And now: work to do, and then off tomorrow. Solidarity in the Baroque family means the kids are staying here to mind Frank and Chet: we’re all bound up together, and I’ll be doing what I can to get some good pictures of the Evans family estate. In the meantime, apposite William Blake quotes, please.

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