Watch…..Spyship (DVD).Based on the true story of the disappearance of the Hull based deep sea fishing boat Gaul which sank in the Barents sea, near Norway, in 1974. No trace of the ship was found for many years and 36 crew were lost in one of the worst fishing disasters of recent times. It happened during the Cold War period and many people, including the families of the crew, believed it had been sunk by the Russians. Spyship, starring Tom Wilkinson was shot around Hull and its docks was broadcast in 1983. The story feeds into the Cold War mentality that existed at that time and bears resemblance to the better known nuclear drama Edge of Darkness. Tom plays the journalist son of one of the dead crewmen who together with a family friend tries to work out what has happened to the ship and crew. As you would expect the secret services are not going to let him succeed and the story makes for a thrilling drama. The drama is increased by the haunting voice of folk singer June Tabor on the credits.
Read…Eleanor Marx by Rachel Holmes. She was one of the daughters of the better known Karl Marx. Brought up and mainly home schooled by Karl and his wife Jenny in their cosmopolitan household she had the best of educations. One thing I really like about this book is that Rachel acknowledges the role of Jenny Marx who wants a better ie freer life for her daughter and encourages Eleanor’s dreams of pursuing a life on the theatrical stage as well as the political one. Eleanor had a very privileged life but she was not a snob and respected and learnt from working class women such as Fredrick Engel’s partners, the Burns sisters. Like Marx she believed that change would only come through struggle by those, women and men, at the bottom of society. It was a belief that dominated her life and her politics. Rachel Holmes has produced an insightful and well written history of one of the most important, if forgotten, women of the late 19th century. It is an expensive book so get it from your library.
Go to…a curtain raiser for the 4th Wigan Diggers Festival on 19 July at the Bolton Socialist Club from 2-10pm with a stella line-up of poets, comedians and musicians to mark the upcoming Wigan event in September, one of the North West’s political and cultural highlights. Further details see and for info about the Diggers Festival in September see
Find out about… women’s role during the Miners Strike in 1984/5.Radical theatre group Red Ladder, who have just had their arts council funding cut, are touring a new play about the women’s role during one of the most significant episodes of recent history. We’re Not Going Back They say; Olive, Mary and Isabel are like any other sisters whose everyday squabbles became a background hum to the strike that forced them to question their lives, their relationships and their family ties. Support radical theatre by giving them a donation and go to the play in September in Oldham. For further details see
Learn more about…the campaign for the vote through this BBC TV drama series Shoulder to Shoulder which was made in 1974. It covers the period 1890-1919 and shows the main protagonists including the Pankhursts and Annie Kenney. Episode two is excellent, telling Annie Kenney’s story, of a mill girl from Oldham who becomes a national figure in the suffrage movement. There is also a book of the same name which includes excerpts from their speeches, diaries, letters, memoirs, other writings and various newspaper cuttings, photographs, and cartoons. Shamefully the series has never been repeated on TV but you can watch it on Youtube see