Hull’s Angel (2002) In post Brexit UK, apparently, there has been an increase in hate crime and racist attacks – not too sure about that – is it the losers of the referendum trying to paint all leavers as racists and that this is essentially a racist country? Not if you know the real history of anti-racism in the UK, which shows all people from different communities opposing racist attacks. This documentary shows one white woman, Tina, in Hull, challenging the stereotype of the white working class being racist. She lost her job as a hostel for asylum seekers because she wouldn’t toe the line over the draconian Home Office rules. This did not put off Tina, even though she then ended up in a low paid job and was attacked for her support for asylum seekers by people in her community. I know many white people who have stood up for refugee and asylum seekers – either in individual incidents or by working in Destitution projects -they are part of a wonderful history of anti-racism in this country; one that should be promoted to encourage more people to do the same. Maybe its time to re-show Hull’s Angel to show that there is nothing intrinsically racist about the UK . Could be a future screening for the Mary Quaile Club.
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera (Puffin Books). Written in 2009 by a teacher, this frightening book reveals the reality of the West’s war against terror in which teenage boys can be sold to the Americans and end up in the modern day Gulag called Guantanamo Bay. Khalid is your average teenager, he loves his family but his own life of friends, school and girls is just opening up to him. He lives in Rochdale, a poor north west town and his family are Pakistani who are making do: his father works shifts in a local curry house while his mum works in the local school. Like many children of immigrants, he is aware and proud of his background, but it makes little impression on his life until he goes on a visit to Pakistan with his family. That is where the nightmare begins, and from what I know about similar cases ie Moazem Begg and Shaker Ahmed, Anna describes a very realistic view of the experiences of detainees, although I was totally unaware that they imprisoned children. Buy it here
Rights Not Games National Day of Action Tuesday 6 September. It does seem ironic that millions of pounds have been spent by this government to train and send paralympians to Rio to represent their country, whilst the same government has destroyed the lives of many disabled people by cutting their income, abolishing education support and the benefits that allow people live an independent life.
Next week there are a series of protests and demos across the country to highlight government policy and to show that disabled people will not accept these attacks on their rights. Join them on a local protest see
Victoria Baths on the 110th anniversary of the official opening of Manchester’s Water Palace from 7-11 September. Hathersage Baths, as I knew it in the 70s when I went to a local school, was the place where we were taken for swimming lessons. Longsight then was still a massively Irish area; poor but packed with several generations of immigrants and their descendants. Bath were still places that people like my Dad used to use for his weekly dip because, like many families, we lived in a house that did not have a bathroom.
It was a time when local councils saw themselves as having a role in providing local services to local people, particularly the poor. You can read, for instance, in Hannah Mitchell’s biography, The Hard Way Up, about her endeavours as a Manchester Labour Councillor in the 1920s to get a local washouse.
The baths are long gone and today Victoria Baths, while still owned by Manchester City Council, is now run by a trust and is a heritage visitor attraction. Next week there are several events to mark the birthday of the Baths (and raise money) including a guided tour, music and entertainment. On the Saturday there is a free history talk by Sylvia Koelling about the early days of baths and washouses in Manchester. 1840-76. The Evils of Dirt and the Value of Cleanliness. A sad reminder of why so few people today feel that local councils and democracy itself has little relevance to their lives. Further details see