Stop! Look! Listen! a weekly selection of some of my favourite films/books/people…

Happy People (2010) A year in the Taiga by Dmitry Vasyukov. Siberia extends from the Urals to the Pacific and is one and a half times the size of the USA. 38 million people live in this area, but this film concentrates on 300 people who live in the heart of the Siberian wilderness, deep in the taiga and far away from civilization with no telephone, running water or medical support. Written and presented by Werner Herzog the story follows a trapper through the four seasons. It shows a way of life that has continued with little changes for centuries and celebrates its harsh, but beautiful, landscape and…its happy people.

Listen to…
angry people on the Inspiration EP by Easterhouse. Formed in the 1980s by brothers Andy and Ivor Perry together with Mike Murray, Gary Rostock and Peter Vanden,  they were Manchester’s only avowedly Marxist band. Whilst there were plenty of left wing bands in the 80s, few of them mentioned the conflict in Northern Ireland. The first song on the EP Inspiration is about Bobby Sands, one of the 10 men who died on hunger strike in prison in Northern Ireland in 1981, as part of a campaign to gain political status for Irish republican prisoners. Their deaths inspired many people, Irish and non-Irish, to join the campaign for a political solution to Britain’s rule in Ireland. It led to myself, and other second generation Irish people in this country, to open the debate about human rights abuses in Ireland and discrimination against the Irish in this country. Easterhouse had no time for the shortcomings of the Labour Party or the dalliances of the trade union leaders with the establishment. They were angry, highly politicised, and wanted other young people to join a workers’ movement to oppose the State and build a better society. At a time when there are over a million unemployed young people, and each person is chasing four jobs, the question has to be asked…where is the Easterhouse of 2012? As well as this EP, track down their other albums Contenders and Waiting for the Redbird“. You can find some clips of them on Youtube, including this brief interview.

Tom Paine A Political Life by John Keane(Bloomsbury, 1995) Thomas Paine (1737-1809) is a man for our times. A man of conviction, he wrote rebellious political tracts on citizenship, republicanism and democracy and, most importantly, he wrote them for the person in the street. His publications, Common Sense, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason inspired political activists in Britain, America and France. Not just a writer and philosopher, he was also a soldier in the American Revolution and nearly died in a prison in France during the Reign of Terror in 1793. John Keane’s book is a fitting tribute to a man whose writings  are still seen as important in debating the relationship between citizen and state.

Manchester Town Hall to gaze in wonder at the Ford Maddox Brown murals in the Great Hall. Started in 1879 and completed in 1893, they are a Victorian idealised version of the history of the city. I particularly like the story of William  Crabtree, usually described as a draper (but more likely a merchant), who was asked to observe the Transit of Venus in 1639, and went on to correct the faulty calculations of the scientist, Jeremiah Horrocks, and observe the transit on 4 December. Watch out for Eric Northey’s play on Crabtree The Transit  of  Venus, performed by Cul-de-sac theatre company,  to be premiered in July at Buxton Fringe Festival. (More information from Eric,

About lipstick socialist

I am an activist and writer. My interests include women, class, culture and history. From an Irish in Britain background I am a republican and socialist. All my life I have been involved in community and trade union politics and I believe it is only through grass roots politics that we will get a better society. This is reflected in my writing, in my book Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women and my involvement in the Mary Quaile Club. .If you want to contact me please use my gmail which is lipsticksocialist636
This entry was posted in biography, Communism, education, films, Ireland, Irish second generation, labour history, Manchester, music, Socialism, trade unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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