I, Daniel Blake for free next Sunday, 25 September, through this link. Like many of Ken Loach’s films it’s a polemic about the state of society in the UK today. For people who are living the lives of modern day Daniels and their supporters it’s nothing new, but for those unaware of the descent of ordinary working class people into the austerity state it will be shocking. The film will not change the government’s policy, nor shame Labour councils across the northwest who are just “following orders”, but it is a call-out to everyone else to support all the Daniels (and Danielle’s) at their local Job Centre such as Ashton-u-Lyne each Thursday morning see.
Chernobyl, and celebrate its links with the north west. In the late 80s I remember going on a coach trip across the Peak District that Manchester TUC had organised for Belarus trade unionists; we wanted to show them the beautiful countryside but they wanted to buy frying pans and black plastic bags! We made sure they did both. In this new film Birdsong; Stories From Pripyat, a town only 3 miles from Chernobyl, there is new archive film footage from the Ukraine, as well as a new live music score that incorporates the oral testimonies of the residents of Pripyat and the people who came to the north west to escape the devastation that Chernobyl caused in the region. Find out more here See it at Home on 30 September details
Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground. The 1950s and ’60s were a strange time when people really were frightened of a nuclear war breaking out and organisations such as CND were born. It was a time when a new underground counterculture began and Jeff Nuttall played a key role in promoting experimentation in all things, challenging censorship and opposing the commercialisation in society. He was part of a group of, largely men, who were bohemians – creating their own world in art, music, books and poetry. At this exhibition you can get a flavour of what they believed in and how they expressed their views of the world in a selection of letters, books and magazines. Jeff was the British link , and in his seminal work Bomb Culture (1968) he explained his philosophy which was driven by living in the H-bomb world. He wrote 40 books, designing many of the front covers, as well as being a sculptor, actor and musician. It is a fascinating exhibition in many ways, but needs a good introduction to explain why the international underground counterculture started and was so influential. See it here
Scapegallows by Carol Birch. She wrote it in 2007, and lucky for me I have a great local library from which I borrowed it. It’s the fascinating, fictional account, of the life of a real working class woman Margaret Catchpole who was born in Suffolk in the late 1700s. Margaret became notorious because she escaped the gallows twice and was transported to Australia. Carol used original sources, including a book written by the son of Margaret’s employer, and the letters that Margaret wrote to his mother. Through these she was able to reveal the real Margaret – a very modern woman for her age. Although a servant she was a strong and self-determined woman who had love affairs, was an excellent horsewoman, and went onto to produce some of the best descriptions of colony life in Australia. Scapegallows is extremely well-written and is a fascinating story so it’s definitely one to search for in your local library if you have one or through