Read my weekly roundup of radical arts and politics…Cuba es mi Marca, Four Pound Film Club, History of Radical Women, The Flight of the Black Necked Swans

Stop look listen










cuba is my

Some Cuban films presented by Burjesta Theatre in Liverpool from Wednesday  31 August –Saturday 3 September at The Casa. ‘Cuba es mi marca’ (Cuba is my Brand) is a mini festival of three films,  plus a photographic exhibition. The films are being toured by Cuban film critic and poet Fernando Leon Jacomino and photographer Sonia Amalguer. Entrance is only £3 or £5 if you can afford it. Further info see Also at the other end of the M62 the NUJ Manchester and Salford branch  are showing Page One; Inside the New York Times, the latest screening at the Four Pound Film Club on Sunday,  28 August, 7.30pm at Three Minute Theatre, Affleck’s Palace, Oldham Street, Manchester. The post screening discussion will be led by Dave Toomer, an  NUJ activist,  lecturer on journalism , and editor of the Wythenshawe Reporter. Further details see



women shop stewards at Ford’s

About  the history of radical women. Socialist historian Michael Herbert will be teaching  courses on the History of Radical Women 1790 – 1980 this autumn;  one in the evening and one during the day. The evening class starts on   Monday 12 September, 6.30pm to 8.30pm at Aquinas College, Nangreave Road, Stockport, Cheshire, SK2 6TH. The day class begins on  Tuesday 27th September, 11am to 1pm at the Working Class Movement Library, 51 The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WX.

The course will explore the history of radical women in Britain, highlighting their struggle for civil, political and legal rights over two centuries. It begins  with Mary Wollstonecraft’s book Vindication of the Rights of Women (1791) and then go on to the  radical movement of the 1790s, the risings of the Luddites, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, the Owenite Feminists, Chartism, Socialism, trade unions and the long campaign for Votes for Women which started in 1866 and ended in 1918.  For more information about the course and how to book, please contact Michael Herbert:


the flight of

The Flight of the Black Necked Swans by retired  Tameside Hospital surgeon Milton Pena Vasquez. Milton was a leftwing  activist who fled fascist Chile in the 70s. In 2005 he went public about the dangerous levels of nurse staffing levels at Tameside Hospital.  In this fascinating biography he uses his insider knowledge of the NHS to show how and why Tameside Hospital is a dangerous place to be a patient – whilst acknowledging the tireless work of all staff to try and work in a hospital that has been failed by its management and local Labour politicians.

Milton has now retired,  but a recent report published in July this year by Professor Bruce Keogh, once again showed that Tameside Hospital is one of the worst in England for high mortality rates. To read a review of the book by Derek Pattison see

Watch this spoof news item with Jonathon Pie about the media’s obsession with terrorism, and not with the real issues such as mental health see


Posted in anti-cuts, biography, book review, education, feminism, films, human rights, labour history, Tameside, Uncategorized, working class history | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finnish by design: my trip around Finland


There are three things I love about Finland: the music of Jean Sibelius, the writings and art of Tove Jansson, and the architecture of Alva Aalto. Sadly, all dead, but in their lives they embody much of  the history of a country that few people from the UK  know much about, or ever visit. This summer I travelled around just a small part of this unique and fascinating country.

Finland is a big country with a small population; just 5.5 m people scattered across a terrain bigger than the UK. It has a traumatic history of occupation and war, reflecting its position between Sweden and Russia, and on the edge of Europe. Finns speaks a language that even some of its citizens find hard to penetrate,  but luckily for us tourists they also speak brilliant English.

Travelling around the country is made simple by a transportation system that works, is easy to navigate, and is also pretty cheap.I  travelled about 1000 miles on the train and the total cost was about £53.  In the towns and cities I visited it was easy to get around because of the way in which they are laid out, made accessible by foot or cycle. Also I  love the way that as you approach a pedestrian crossing the cars actually  stop for you…You would be dead if you tried this in England!


Much of the country  only gets about 4 months of daylight a year,  so it’s best to visit from  June to September. You can then experience very long days when it seems there is no dark at all,  and you can understand why Finns love to be outside during the summer and enjoy fantastic facilities in parks, lakes – and even just outside their flats.

Finland is a very beautiful country. Its landscape is dominated by nature with  wonderful forests and lakes which have not be destroyed by commercialism or industrialisation. And, although Finish composer Jean Sibelius lived in a very different time, looking at the landscape and listening to his music,  you can understand his love for his country.  Listen to one of his most popular compositions here.


Travelling around just a small part of the country I was struck by towns which have a mixture of architectural styles; reflecting the history of the country with the influence of Sweden, France and Russia. There seems to be a determination by the planners to ensure that commercial premises are kept out of residential areas, and that goes for advertising of all kinds. Maybe this reflects their long relationship with the Soviet Union, and  cities such as Tampere remind me of travelling around the USSR in the mid-80s.Many people live in flats, but they are made enjoyable places to live by the way in which they are designed with plenty of trees surrounding them, wide streets that people can use to cycle around, and lots of outdoor facilities for children.


My trip began in the  the area called the Lake District, so-named because  its landscape is dominated by lakes and forest areas . I started my travels in a small town north of Helsinki called Jyväskylä which  has a population of 137,000. It is considered the home town of Finnish architect  Alvar Aalto.

One of the things I like about him is that he was not just a creative person,  but  he was an activist  taking part in the war against the occupation of Finland. But he made his reputation as an architect,  and his philosophy mirrors the words of British socialist and artist  William Morris:  Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Alvar was not just an architect, he was also a sculptor, designer and painter. Known for his modernist design of houses and buildings :he wasn’t just interested in the design of the building but with his wife, Aino Aalto,  was concerned with the  total look of the house, designing everything from lamps to glassware. In  Jyväskylä I visited the Alvar Aalto Museum and also his Experimental House which he lived in during the summer.  The house is made of wood,  but he  mixed in local brick and marble giving it a very contemporary  look. He also designed his own, and essential Finish smoke sauna, and a boat to transport him and his family across the lake to the house each summer.

experimental house

Experimental House


Sauna in the woods


you can sit on an Aalto seat

Alvar designed many different buildings across Finland and Europe but I really liked  the  Workers Centre in   Jyväskylä  which   the local Communist Party commissioned him to build.


Workers Centre-ironically now next door to a bar called Revolution!


lenin 2

Today Finland  is a member of the EU,  but during  the last hundred years they had a very close relationship with the former USSR. My next stop was Tampere, the second largest city in Finland, where II visited the Lenin Museum which was set up in 1946, and which celebrates the bonds between the two countries. Lenin lived in Tampere in the early 1900s, and from there he plotted the revolution in Russia and he was supported by the Finnish Communist Party so it’s not surprising that there is a whole museum devoted to him. Because of  this relationship he ensured that Finland became an independent country in 1920,  and over the years the two countries established close economic ties until the fall of the USSR in 1991.

In Tampere you can also visit the Amurin Museum of Workers’ Housing. Amurin was one of the first workers housing districts in the city,  created to provide housing for the workers in the new industries springing up from the 1880s. People lived there until the 1970s. Made of wood, the houses show the very poor living conditions of workers, and you can find out about the history of their attempts through the trade unions to improve their lives. Apart from the dwellings you can also see recreations of a cobblers’ shop from 1906,  a  1930s cooperative store and a haberdashery from the 1940s. Being Finland there is also  an excellent cafe.


Amurin  Museum


My last stop on my Finish journey was to its capital city, Helsinki or as the Tourist Board call it “Hel Yeah”. It looks like the centre of the country, it has lots more people around, including tourists, lots more cars and  lots of shops and restaurants. But the architecture is fabulous,  with the  churches and cathedrals which dominate the centre. But they have also kept many  of their older buildings and now use them as housing, retail and commercial premises.

There are lots of interesting galleries in Helsinki,  but walking around  is  like living in an art gallery because everywhere you go in their buildings and public spaces you can see the history of the country in  beautiful sculptures in parks and public buildings. Here are some of the ones I came across as I wandered around the city.



These 1930s murals were on the outside walls of a care home in Helsinki

workers statue

Workers statue

Tove Jansson is one of my favourite artists. Not just an artist but also a novelist, painter, and illustrator,   she is best  known for  producing the wonderful Moomin books   Tove created the Moomins at a time of real crisis for Finland in 1944 when they were doing dodgy deals with Nazi Germany and they sum up her attitude to life: joy and the importance of togetherness for humankind. In Tampere you can  visit the Moomin collection which exhibits Jannson’s art work from the books as well as actual models,  including the Moomin house which she created with her partner, Tuulikki Pietila.


Before visiting this exhibition I really thought the Moomins were a creation for children, but I learnt that it is the work of an incredible artist who was trying to say something important to the world. In Helsinki at the Helsinki Art Museum , you can see some of her other artwork including two beautiful murals she created for a workers cafe in Helsinki in the 1940s.

mural 1

mural 2

Travelling around Finland it is hard to distinguish  a big difference between social classes. Helena, a retired trade unionist officer, gave me a tour of places that she said showed the real Helsinki. We left the city centre and in her car drove to a large shopping mall in east Helsinki. It was just like many you get in the UK, with chain stores of everything from mobile phones to clothes and household items. I noticed several Somali women in traditional dress,  and Helena  explained  that there was local social housing that refugees lived in and there was a foodbank nearby which the queues were sometimes  a kilometre long. It was funded by groups such as trade unionists and anyone, including poorer Finns,  could use it.

In the shopping mall we headed for the food section for lunch and I noticed that the menu reflected the ethnicity of Finland:  Predominantly Finish but also  in Swedish (the largest minority),  Russian and English. Helena said that many people from the EU were now living in Finland including people from their neighbour, Estonia. The Estonians (like the Poles in the UK) had come to work in the construction industry and had been used by employers to undercut local workers. There were lots of parallels with the UK: I saw groups of young Arabic and African men sitting in parks and  some  Roumanian women begging in the larger cities.

Finland has its own problems with  10% unemployment and,  like the UK,  a lack of jobs for many of its young people. But over there, and even with a right wing government, there is a social consensus about the funding of public services and  people pay a higher percentage of income tax, 30%. But what you don’t see is many  people begging on the streets or the physical breakdown in public services that is evident in the UK by just walking around the cities and towns of this country. Several Finns I spoke to were concerned about the UK’s exit from the EU, for them it’s a no-no to leave, not surprising given their history, but for the UK it is not just   disengaging from the EU but  a wider disengagement from our political system that we need to worry about.

Posted in anti-cuts, art exhibition, Communism, education, feminism, labour history, music, trade unions, Uncategorized, working class history | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Read my weekly roundup of radical arts and politics..Up for Love, Thorn,Javier Camanas and Chernobyl Prayer

Stop look listen










up for love

Up for Love (Home). It looks like your average French film-glamorous woman, Diane, who is a lawyer meets attractive architect. Big difference is that architect, Alexander, is only 4ft 5inches tall. Alexander is much more than his height- he is funny, kind and exciting to be with. So, Diane is challenged by her own conservative views about men and women, but at least she realises it, unlike her ex-husband who wants to fight Alexander and her mother who cannot see beyond his height.  Its a funny film with a serious theme; is discrimination just beneath the surface for most of us and how difficult is it to get beyond our narrow views of how people should look. Culturally the film seems very French; not sure it would be made in the same way in the UK but for once its lovely to watch a funny romantic film.





To a new play about Morrissey by northwest playwright Tim Keogh. “Thorn” is on Monday 15th August, 7.30 pm at the Kings Arms in Salford.  He says; The play explores the angst ridden teenage years of Steven Patrick Morrissey from the cocoon of his bedroom into the half light of 1970’s Manchester as he wrestles with his sexuality supported by the love of David Bowie and Glam Rock and by his greatest ally,  his Mother,  and a girl he meets at a party. Book here



javier photo

At the photos of Spanish photographer Javier Camanas which are on display at Partisan in Manchester from 5-15 August. Always lovely to see a newcomer’s view of the city and love this one (above of Manchester Town Hall). His other photos are of the more glamorous cities including New York and London. He says that in the exhibition “he looks to share his street photography, of people that were walking or still in that unique moment: they were there and “YOU WERE THERE”.




chernobyl prayer

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich. This weekend is the annual commemoration of  the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only use of nuclear weapons in history.  The bombings, part of the Western Allies policy to end WW2, killed 129,000 people and since then, approximately 1,900 people, or about 0.5% of the post-bombing population, are believed to have died from cancers attributable to radiation release.

Unlike the West the Soviet Union and its people saw nuclear power as the safest  energy source in the world –until Chernobyl. On 26 April 1986 a series of blasts brought down Reactor No. 4 of Chernobyl’s  nuclear power plant; the worst nuclear disaster of the 20th Century. Belarus is a small country of 10 million people – and had no nuclear power station of its own  – but the effects of the blasts has meant that the country has lost 485 villages and towns; 70 will remain buried under the earth.  The land is polluted, and 2.1m people are living in a contaminated zone of whom 700,000 are children. The effects of radiation has led to a massive decline in the population and every year, due to constant exposure to low doses of radiation, there is a rise in cancer rates particularly affecting children.

Svetlana’s book is written in her style of allowing individuals to tell their story with the minimum intervention of the author,  except for one chapter where she outlines why she wrote the book entitled The author interviews herself on missing history and why Chernobyl calls our view of the world into question. This is a powerful book, not just because of the oral testimony of so many people who have been ignored by the official history of Chernobyl, but because the author is from Belarus and she puts the incident within a context of the world. It’s also fascinating because we/I have grown up in an era where we and organisations such as CND have questioned, debated, railed against nuclear power, but this was unlike the Soviet Union where nuclear power was seen as safe and reliable. That is why for people such as Svetlana and the people of Belarus, Chernobyl was the most important event of  20Cth. It took her 20 years to write this book,  because as she says; “Chernobyl is a mystery that we have yet to unravel”.  Buy it from

Posted in anti-cuts, art exhibition, book review, Communism, education, feminism, films, music, peace campaigns, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Read my weekly roundup of radical arts and politics..East of Everything, Second anniversary of Tameside against the Cuts,We weren’t given anything for Free and Syd Shelton’s photos of Rock against Racism

Stop look listen








east of everything

East of Everything (youtube/free) another fantastic series from Australia. Forget Neighbours and Home and Away this is grown up television. Art Watkins is a travel writer who returns home to a neglected resort, Broken Bay, on the eastern edge of Australia, just after his Mum dies. Hoping to make it a short stay his plans go awry when he meets his son whom he hasn’t seen for 10 years, his brother whom he thinks is trying to cheat him out of his inheritance, and his first girlfriend who broke his heart. On top of that there is a crooked council that are trying to sell the resort to developers . Much of the two series concentrate on Art and the other men trying to sort out their relationships with each other particularly Art and his younger brother, Vance, who stayed in Broken Bay and looked after their Mum until she died. Unlike a lot of television today it is about real relationships between adults, challenges ideas about happiness and modern life, and shows people getting together to create communities that are supportive and joyous. Its also very funny in a typical Australian way. Not sure why we cannot make similar series in the UK?? Watch both series starting here



TAC july

Tameside against the Cuts on their second anniversary. Every week they stand outside Ashton JobCentre offering practical support and a shoulder to cry on to the victims of the horrendous so called “benefit system”. They get little financial support from mainstream organisation except Unite the Union Community branch and are now providing a mixture of a political group and filling in the gap of a welfare rights service. Thousands of people are turning up at Jeremy Corbyn rallies (2000 in Salford) but where are these people when it comes to defending the poorest and most vulnerable groups? Or are we living in a society where people are just clickactivists and there is little real engagement with life for the majority of people in this country? If you cannot come to the demo on 4 August from 10-12 at Ashton Jobcentre please make a donation see



we werent

The Italian partisan women who fought the Nazis in this film,  “We Weren’t Given Anything for Free”. Its oral history at its best, the director Eric Esser, interviewed the women and they tell their story of not just being partisans but of breaking all the rules about the behaviour of women in Italy in the 30s and 40s. Its inspiring and sadly not had many showings in this country. Eric now wants to complete the film and is asking people to donate to his crowdfunding campaign. See here for further details see



syd shelton

At Syd Shelton’s exhibition; Rock against Racism at Bradford Photographic Gallery. From 1977 to 1981 RAR inspired young people to oppose the blatant racism of groups such as the National Front. A group of musicians and political activists formed RAR and toured the country taking a message of “unite and fight” to towns and cities across Britain and  Syd documented these events   Love the photos from Leeds RAR gig, I was there, we went on a double decker bus funded by local trade unions and  it took ages to get there, but the event was wonderful. Its hard to imagine today a left wing event that would bring together so many working class  young people. And that was the strength of RAR. Go see it here








Posted in anti-cuts, art exhibition, drama, education, feminism, films, human rights, labour history, political women, Socialism, Socialist Feminism, Tameside, trade unions, Uncategorized, women, working class history, young people | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Read my weekly roundup of radical arts and politics..Rent Rebels,Joan,Babs and Shelagh too,Madonna in a Fur Coat and Argh Kid

Stop look listen










rent 2

Rent Rebels organised by Manchester Film Coop and Greater Manchester Housing Action on 18 July at 7pm at the Partisan Collective, Manchester. Walk around Manchester city centre and you cannot miss the homeless – one of the most vulnerable groups – who are the victims of a housing system that has failed those who need council accommodation the most. GMHA are a new group that are working to raise issues about housing. At this screening watch a German film that shows what activists have done in Berlin to oppose the privatisation of social housing. Join in the discussion afterwards to find out more about GMHA, and how you can take part in their activities. Further details see




Joan Littlewood (6 October 1914 – 20 September 2002), one of the most original and innovative theatre directors. She set up the Theatre Workshop, bringing new working class actors into the theatre, and recognised the importance of the theatre to the whole community by setting up her theatre in one of the poorest areas of London. Her philosophy was driven by her communist politics and her relationship with folksinger Ewan McColl.  Find out more about the genius of Joan in this new  play;  Joan, Babs & Shelagh Too by Conscious Theatre. They say ;In a transformational tour de force solo performance blending biographical detail with Brechtian technique, unique writer and  solo performer Gemski questions why it is that a woman who arguably contributed as much to British theatre as Shakespeare is seldom remembered.

See this show  at 3 Minute Theatre


madonna in a fur coat

Madonna in a Fur Coat by Turkish writer Sabahattin Ali ( 25 February 1907 –  2 April  1948) He was a socialist, teacher, translator and journalist. Imprisoned several times for his political writings, he was assassinated in 1948 under mysterious circumstances. Madonna in a Fur Coat was first published in 1943 and  was never that popular,  but today in Turkey it has topped the best seller lists. Set in Ankara, Turkey in the 1930s it begins with the story of a young man who gets a job working as a lowly clerk in a lumber firm. There he meets the firm’s translator,  Raif Bey, a man that is abused by everyone in the firm and  by his family who live off his earnings. This makes him ask the question about  individuals such as Raif ; “What do they live for?”.

But Raif is no ordinary man. In his youth he left rural Turkey and lived in Berlin post 1918. There he fell for an artist, Maria, who wanted an equal and free relationship with Raif.  It is hard to believe that this book was written in 1943 because of the way it explores Raif and Maria’s desires for each other and a new life.  Maybe it is popular in Turkey today because the government is threatening the secularism and modernity of the country. What makes Madonna such a thrilling novel is the way it shows how  relationships can change peoples lives; setting them free from reactionary views about how men and women should behave and act, and allowing them to be whatever they want to be. And  in 2016 we are all still struggling with the same problems of trying to live with  and without each other. Brilliant.

You can buy it here


argh kid

To local poet ‘Argh Kid’ (David Scott) as he reads from his new collection, Beige Boy on 28 July at Joshua Brooks in Manchester see.  In his latest collection of poetry he tells; tales of friendship & fighting to drugs, music & love. It’s a superb fresh mix of stinging social commentary and pub-toilet-sink realism.
Tagged as a  “thinking mans’ Shaun Ryder”!!! Just watching him recite his poem about UKIP which  shows that he has a lot more going for him than following in the footsteps of Ryder. Watch

Posted in anti-cuts, book review, drama, education, feminism, films, human rights, music, Uncategorized, women, working class history, young people | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Read my weekly roundup of radical arts and politics..Queen of Earth, Like there is No-one Looking,Respectable, The Solution

Stop look listen










queen of earth

Queen of Earth (Home) Catherine (brilliantly played by Elizabeth Moss) is on a downward spiral; her father has committed suicide and she has been dumped by her partner. She retreats to stay with her friend Virginia (Katherine Waterson) at her rural home. Looking for support from her friend she just becomes even more anxious and worked up as Virginia spends her time with her new partner. The women become locked in a battle over past and present resentments about their relationship and the way in which both of them have hurt each other. Catherine simmers with anger and frustration as her mental decline seems to verge on murderous intent. Close ups of the two women make this a claustrophobic and chilling   film, and  you are drawn in and have no idea how it is going to end. I think many women can empathise with Catherine and Virginia over the way in which friendships can be supplanted by the love of men.



barton theatre company

To a new play “Like there is no one Looking” by Elaine McCann and performed by Barton Theatre Company. Its great to see a local, Eccles, amateur theatre company  taking part in drama festivals such as Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. The play takes as its theme a very important subject- dementia- showing how music can be used as a therapy to bring back forgotten happy memories of the past. Catch it 4/5 July at The Albert Square Chop House at 8pm. Further dates see

Listen to  playwright Elaine McCann talk about her play on Salford City Radio see




respectable lynsey

Respectable  The Experience of Class by Lynsey Hanley. Great to read a book about class by a woman from a working class background! Lynsey grew up on a council estate in Birmingham, the only child  of a father who was a  white collar worker and her mum who was a housewife. Loved the stories of Lynsey at 8 years old reading the Mirror before she went to school!  In this book she explores a working class community that is more complex than the usual sterotype; one where people read books, watch documentaries on television and have views about the world. It is essentially her story and as she admits; she was  privileged because she is an only child with all the advantages that gave  her of her parents’ time and money.  In the book she uses her own experiences of growing up in a working class area to show how class does destroy peoples hopes and dreams for a better future. And how being middleclass does give people an entry into education and a more secure future. She provides lots of evidence of that from her own observations as well as many studies, historical and modern.

For me coming from a similar background but an Irish one (and  an aspirational community with a large extended family)  I can relate to and agree with much of the book. But although I followed a similar path from council estate to professional job, I do not feel her sense of alienation from her class or background. The difference is, not class in the end, its about how you see yourself and what you do. I have always been an activist ; in my trade union, in the Irish community organisation and in various single issue campaigns from CND to abortion.  Missing from this book are the words; trade union. I presume she is in one?? UCU if she is working at a university?? Maybe on strike over pay and conditions?  Missing  also from the book is the history of the working classes involvement in radical organisations and  the many women and men who have fought for a better life for their children and wider society .  She needs to read Northern ReSisters conversations with Radical Women.  And, much as I did enjoy the book, unfortunately it is one for the middle classes again.Reinforcing an ideal that working class people should be aping a middleclass lifestyle rather than looking for happiness in a community that recognises and values a lifestyle that doesn’t put university, accumulating wealth and snobbery at the centre of society.


An Answer

To everyone who thinks that the EU referendum result last Thursday is not acceptable because it didn’t give them a remain result and that we need another referendum ..…………


The Solution by Bertolt Brecht (1953)

The Secretary of the Authors’ Union

Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee

Which said that the people

Had forfeited the government’s confidence

And could only win it back

By redoubled labour. Wouldn’t it

Be simpler in that case if the government

Dissolved the people and

Elected another?

Posted in anti-cuts, book review, drama, education, feminism, films, human rights, labour history, Manchester, Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women, political women, Socialist Feminism, trade unions, Uncategorized, women, working class history | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Read my weekly roundup of radical arts and politics..Is The Man who is Tall Happy?,Bringing Greenham Home,Conceived in a Curry House,Banner Theatre

Stop look listen










is the man who is tall happy

 Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (Free, online hereAn animated conversation between filmmaker Michel Gondry and big thinker  Noam Chomsky  It is a beginners’ guide (for people like me) to understanding the links between language, philosophy and science. Made interesting because Gondry is just like the viewer, he isn’t an academic, but like most of us wants to make sense of the world. Love the bit in the film where Gondry asks Chomsky for advice about his conflict with his girlfriend over her interest in astrology. Chomsky relates his own experiences of growing up to bigger questions about the universe; why we should puzzle more about the universe and not assume we now know everything about it, how do babies learn language before they can speak it? These are all big philosophical questions, answered by a great intellectual but made understandable and interesting by a brilliant combination of Chomsky’s responses and Gondry’s wonderful animation.



The Greenham Common peace camp. On 5 September 1981 it was a group of Welsh women from “Women for Life on Earth” who marched to Greenham and set up the first peace camp – just outside the fence surrounding RAF Greenham Common – to oppose the siting of 96 cruise missiles there. The campaign against cruise missiles was one of the most inspiring for many people, both women and men, throughout the 80s.

At this event Bringing Greenham Home on 15 July organised by clubdefemmes at Home in Manchester you can watch the film Carry Greenham Home by Beeban Kidron and Amanda Richardson (who also lived at the camp for 8 months) as well as a couple of short films that are more oblique commentaries on the issues around peace/war. The speakers include Jo Blackman from Seeds of Hope and as usual with Home an academic.

Unlike the 1980s  the  cuurent peace movement, at least outside Scotland, is on its knees. But we need an opposition to this government’s policy of updating Trident at the cost of £205 billion! So go along to this event, remember how important Greenham Common was, but  for me it’s not about memorialising the past , it’s about doing something – now!

Find out about Greater  Manchester CND see

Read the stories of northern women peace activists here


conceived in a curry house

To a drama about FC United. “Conceived in a Curry House” is the latest production from MaD theatre from North Manchester. The birth of FC United is a fascinating subject as I found out when I interviewed one of their founders, soon to exit Chief Executive, Andy Walsh. Read it here.  Football is something I do not understand but  community and cooperatives I totally get,  and I think they are one way – particularly as public services are destroyed – of people getting together to create or preserve an aspect of their culture. FC United now have their own  football ground,  so it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their anti-establishment stance.

Watch the trailer here

For info about performances see



banner theatre

A brilliant new performance by Banner Theatre which celebrates the role of the black and Irish communities in Birmingham. Love the inclusion of Ilene French and Jim Dodds telling their story of coming to England as part of the wonderful contribution that immigrants/migrants have and continue to make  to this country. And it’s the usual mix of an excellent song by Dave Rogers and wonderful music from Fred and the rest of the band.



Posted in anti-cuts, Betty Tebbs, drama, education, feminism, films, human rights, labour history, Manchester, Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women, political women, Socialist Feminism, Uncategorized, women, working class history, young people | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment