Today’s Music to keep me saaaaNNNNeeee in Isolation – Malvina Reymolds

Malvina looked like a little old granny but she was a feisty lady who took on the KKK and never backed down.

Most people don’t know that she was the lady who wrote Little Boxes (made famous by Pete Seeger) and What Have They Done To The Rain.

She was writing protest songs before protest songs were invented. She cushions a hard message with a soft touch.

Today I’ll be playing some Malvina and taking heart. We can make the world better!



Traffic – You Can All Join In

In these days of division and hatred, where race is being used by politicians to gain votes and racism still hasn’t been properly addressed, it’s good to hear Traffic singing this.

Back in the 60s we were fighting for equality and freedom. Our music reflected that. The lyrics were pertinent.

Surely we can have differences without hatred? Surely we can disagree without falling out? Surely variety can be strength?

Phil Ochs – I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Great anti-war song lyrics.

Phil Ochs – I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Great anti-war song lyrics.

Phil Ochs was one of the great ‘Protest’ singers from the sixties. His music was topical with a social and political message.

I’m reclaiming the word ‘Protest’ because it was used pejoratively as a put down by the establishment. There is nothing wrong with protest and dissidence. We need our voices speaking out about madness. They make you stop and think and maybe re-evaluate. Is there a better way? Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Is war the best option?

War – what does it solve? There’s no money to solve poverty or rebuild our slums. Yet miraculously there’s always money for stealth bombers. We built our cities up. We knock ’em down.

We elect psychopaths because they are strong, black and white and clear. We love strong leadership. We react emotionally and hit out instead of rationally and thoughtfully with diplomacy and communication. We like to be strong. We will not be pushed around!

We build them up. We knock ’em down.

Lives are destroyed.

Phil was a voice who spoke out against the madness of war. He thought there was a better way.

I Ain’t Marching Anymore

Oh, I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying, I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marching anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes, I even killed my brothers
And so many others
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh, I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marching anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marching anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
When they close the missile plants
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it, Peace, or call it, Treason
Call it, Love, or call it, Reason
But I ain’t marching anymore
No, I ain’t marching anymore

Is the Government deliberately stoking up xenophobia and racism or merely pandering to its rabid right wing?

Is the Government deliberately stoking up xenophobia and racism or merely pandering to its rabid right wing?

The two measures that have been introduced send chills through me and send out a very clear message. That message is that foreigners, or people of foreign origin are not welcome in Britain. We are keeping tabs on you. You are being marked out.

  • All businesses have to report foreign workers
  • All schools have to report the country of origin of their children

This is stoking the sentiment that ‘foreigners’ are different and must be identified. Whether that is the intention or not, that is what is happening. It is reinforcing the attitude of racists and xenophobes, creating fear and distress in people who originate from outside the UK, and sending a clear message that foreigners are unwelcome.

Businesses are to give preference to UK citizens. So we no longer appoint the best people for the job?

Why is the Home Office receiving all this information? So action can be taken? What action?

Do we start forcing people to wear badges on their clothing to identify them as second-class citizens, unworthy to be here? Do we initiate a programme of public humiliation? Perhaps the badges could have the initials of the country of origin so that there can be selective racism? The public can then select which nationality to vilify. We could have different days of the week to vilify different groups?

I do not like this. I am reminded of  Martin Niemoller’s poem

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

The Jarrow March – A Crusade for work – 80 years ago today! Betrayed by the Tories!

The Jarrow March – A Crusade for work – 80 years ago today! Betrayed by the Tories!

The Jarrow march has come to symbolise all that is wrong with inequality in this country. The Tory government of the day was quite happy to put the profits of its wealthy backers before all else and did not give a hoot for the misery and suffering that was left in the wake of their policies. That Conservative government under Stanley Baldwin was quite prepared to leave towns and cities in the north destitute and starving and did nothing to help.

The desperation in Jarrow was the direct result of government policy. The closure of Palmer’s Shipyard threw 10,000 men out of work with all the knock-on effect that had on the area. They was no welfare and families were starving.

On the 5th of October 1936 a desperate group of 200 men, backed by the Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson, set off to march 280 miles from Jarrow to London in order to hand a petition in to the Houses of Parliament.

The column of thin, hungry men, wearing flat-caps and capes to ward off the rain, played mouth-organs as they defiantly walked through towns on the way to London. They were the symbol of everything that was wrong. Poor families were starving while the rich, with their monopolies and behind the back deals, became wealthier by the minute. All over the country there were hunger marches and demonstrations. The Jarrow Crusade was one of many.

They were not marching in demand of hand-outs; they wanted work. They were not adverse to working for twelve hours a day for poor pay. They merely wanted to work and earn enough to feed their families.

The Tory government had colluded with the Bank of England to block a loan that would have brought a major Steel Works to Jarrow and alleviated the suffering.

Ellen Wilkinson, with tears in her eyes, handed in the petition and pleaded on behalf of the people of Jarrow.

The Tory government callously rejected the appeal and did nothing.

Today – as Theresa May stands up and promises to deal with inequality forgive me if I take it with a pinch of salt. We’ve heard it all before with the likes of Thatcher and Cameron. They speak the words to fool the people while still playing the same tune. They cut the money to the poor and disabled while giving to the rich. (Tax cuts for the rich – pay cuts for the poor).

Nothing has changed and never will. The Tory party was formed by the rich to look after the rich.

Actions speak louder than words. They’ll offer us sops and crow about it.

Today I’ll remember those defiant heroes of Jarrow and say a curse for Stanley Baldwin and the selfish, greedy people he represents.

Am I British or European?

Am I British or European?

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2400 year ago Britain was inhabited by the Celtic tribes who came across from Europe in 300 BC. So the first Britons were European.

The Angles and Saxons came across from Germany, Netherlands and Denmark to displace the Celts.

Then the Romans came across from Italy, the Vikings (mainly in the north) from Norway, Denmark and Sweden and the Normans from France.

Then there were the major mass immigrations – the Huguenots from France and Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe.

The trade links of the British Empire opened up trade routes and there was an influx of people from further afield – Arabs, Indians, Africans, Chinese and hosts of others.

In the 20th century we had further waves of immigration from Jamaica, Pakistan, India, Africa, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East.

The stand out thing about the British is that we are mongrels, full of hybrid vigour. All these people have contributed greatly to our culture. Our language is the best example. It is basically German/Danish but with much French, Italian, Indian, Jewish, Arabic and Dutch imports. This provides the richness of language that enables nuance and an array of subtleties that most other languages do not have. It is this richness that gives us writers like Shakespeare.

To be British is truly to be European in every sense of the word.

Leon Rosselson – Palaces of Gold – Meaningful lyrics.

Leon Rosselson – Palaces of Gold – Meaningful lyrics.


I love Leon Rosselson. I think he is one of Britain’s greatest song writers, perceptive, astute and intelligent.
In this age where the Tories are intent on bringing their dogma to bear and using austerity as an excuse to slash public services (While giving tax hand-outs to the rich) we desperately need people like Leon to point out the inequality and what it means.
Leon and I stand for fairness.
I saw what the Tory cuts did to education first hand as both a teacher and Headteacher.
They are heartless and uncaring when it comes to ordinary people. As far as they are concerned the money could be better spent on larger profits for business.
Their own sons and daughters have the privilege of Public schools, private health-care and gated communities. They have no need for the public services and despise the majority who do. They resent every penny spent on them. If they had to use the same public services the rest of us do there would be a miraculous improvement.
Leon says it better in his song.

Palaces of Gold

If the sons of company directors,
And judges’ private daughters,
Had to got to school in a slum school,
Dumped by some joker in a damp back alley,
Had to herd into classrooms cramped with worry,
With a view onto slagheaps and stagnant pools,
Had to file through corridors grey with age,
And play in a crackpot concrete cage.
Chorus (after each verse):Buttons would be pressed,
Rules would be broken.
Strings would be pulled
And magic words spoken.
Invisible fingers would mould
Palaces of gold.
If prime ministers and advertising executives,
Royal personages and bank managers’ wives
Had to live out their lives in dank rooms,
Blinded by smoke and the foul air of sewers.
Rot on the walls and rats in the cellars,
In rows of dumb houses like mouldering tombs.
Had to bring up their children and watch them grow
In a wasteland of dead streets where nothing will grow.

I’m not suggesting any kind of a plot,
Everyone knows there’s not,
But you unborn millions might like to be warned
That if you don’t want to be buried alive by slagheaps,
Pit-falls and damp walls and rat-traps and dead streets,
Arrange to be democratically born
The son of a company director
Or a judge’s fine and private daughter.

Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson – World turned upside Down! The Story of the Diggers of St George’s Hill.

Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson – World turned upside Down! The Story of the Diggers of St George’s Hill.

I lived down the road from St George’s Hill and even had a girlfriend who lived there but I did not realise anything about its history until much later.

St George’s hill was the centre of a great political struggle. A group of poor people defied the land owners. They claimed that the land was no-ones to own; that is was free. They claimed the right to farm the common land and live in peace.

The land had been seized by the powerful aristocrats. The King and his barons laid claim to it all and parcelled it up between them. They sold it to their cronies. The common people had no rights.

The Diggers on St George’s Hill were attacked by the army and killed and dispersed. Their homes and crops were burnt and they were driven off.

The cruel incident was described in song by Leon Rosselson and covered by Billy Bragg.

The World Turned Upside Down – Leon Rosselson

In 1649
To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down

Read more: Billy Bragg – The World Turned Upside Down Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Photography – The Waddeston Manor 1870

Photography – The Waddeston Manor 1870

Nothing illustrates the inequality in the world so much as the lavish homes of the super-rich.

Waddeston was built by Baron Rothschild in 1870 in order to display his art collection and entertain. The wine cellar still contains 10,000 bottles of quality wines (Chateau Lafite and Mouton). One can only imagine the homes of the working people and the number of servants necessary to maintain this huge estate. The house was so far away it could not be seen and we had to be bussed in from the carpark.

We were passing and dropped in to get some food. We had National Heritage cards so it was free entry. Quite a sight.

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I love trees.

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Wine bottles.

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I’m not sure what bird this was – a kite?

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These were the stables

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An accurate portrayal of Baron Rothschild?

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The buttery.

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An extensive estate.

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So where have all the Hippies gone?

So where have all the Hippies gone?


What happened to all those radical, long-haired Hippies from the sixties?

The young women and men who were so extreme that they rejected the lifestyle, the establishment, the wealth, the status, the conventions and formed their own liberal rules; who brought colour and flair, do-it-yourself philosophy; who sought meaning and integrity where there was superficiality and hypocrisy?

Where are those bold young people who saw the establishment as corrupt and obsessed with appearance?

Where are the ones who were determined to find a more honest way of living; who saw models for harmonious living among the simpler cultures of the North American Indians and South American Indians?

Where are the people who wanted peace, harmony and environmental integrity?

Was it all a fashion statement? An empty promise? A strategy to get laid?

Were they all weekend Hippies out for fun?

What happened to the Underground with its promise of real spirituality?

Did they get married?

Get careers?

Give up their ideals?

Are they now wearing suits? Running firms? Living in luxury? Buying yachts and penthouse suites?

Was it all worthless froth?

Or do they still write poems, sing songs, subvert from within, live true to their philosophy and fight for that better vision?

Where are the Beats, Hippies and Punks? Are they dead inside?

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