Watch…Tracks (AMC)..based on the book by self taught explorer Robyn Davidson who in 1977 set off across the Australian desert with a dog and four camels. It was a walk of 1,700 miles. Robyn was, and is, particularly interested in nomadic people, and in the film we see her wonderful relationship with Aborigine people who instinctively understand her connection with the earth and animals. She is helped by them and one elder in particular, Mr.Eddie, to find water sources on the journey across the Ngaanyatjarra lands. What makes the film fascinating is the story of Robyn and her need to escape people and reconnect with the land. It is also one of the few films where women explorers feature as a main character and not an adjunct to men. Strangely the film has been picked up by a mainstream cinema chain and because of the wonderful scenes of the desert it is great seeing it on a big screen.
See…more films at the Last Cage Down mini-film festival at the WCML this week. My favourite is The Last Strike on Tuesday 13 May, 7pm. During the 1984-5 strike one of the strongest local campaigns was at the Bold Colliery in St. Helens, not just the miners and their families but many people, particularly from Manchester, supported the campaign. Many people were arrested during the strike including the local Labour MEP Les Huckfield. Those were the days!! A French film crew made this film and Dave Douglas, who will be speaking at the film, said it was one of the best made about the strike. The film focusses on the solidarity of the strike and the role of the women. Further details at
Find out about...how television presents history. John Fay is the creator and chief scriptwriter of the Channel Four series The Mill. Based on real events at Styal Mill in the 1830s, the first series aired in 2013 and showed the struggle for better working conditions, trade unionism and the Ten Hour Day. The second series, set in the 1840s at the time of the Chartists, will air this autumn. In addition to The Mill, John’s work on television over the last 20 years has included Blue Murder, Brookside, Coronation Street, Clocking Off, Primeval and Torchwood.
Join him in a discussion A Writer Looks at History Saturday 24 May, 2.30pm. Free.Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham Street Manchester M1 1JG
This meeting has been organised by the Mary Quaile Club which organises regular discussions in Greater Manchester on history and politics from a left perspective.
More information see
Read my interview with John at
Read...Undercover The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis. We live in a democratic society – or do we? Anyone who has been active in any form of politics knows that the police monitor political activity and it is at it most obvious at demonstrations. But this book shows that the surveillance has gone much deeper in the creation of special police units that seek to infiltrate organisations with police going undercover for years, creating false identities and even having children with women activists. It is a fascinating if very uncomfortable read. Buy it at