Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Chickens of Leire

The other day I was checking the condition of a second-hand book in the course of my work when I found a folded-up newspaper cutting between the pages.

The cutting had no obvious connection with the book and was presumably just there because it had been used as a bookmark.

Nevertheless, it amused me and I hope it will amuse you.

It is a readers` contribution to the letters page of one of the quality papers (The Telegraph?) and concerns itself with the meetimg of a parochial church council in Leicestershire ;

"After the official business had been dealt with , the meeting was opened to the floor. This prompted a question as to why chickens were allowed to roam all over our cemetery.

The perpetrators belonged to our rector, who explained that he held the freehold and grazing rights. There then followed a boisterous discussion as to whether chickens had grazing rights.

As no satisfasctory conclusion was being reached and we did not wish to anger the Rector, it was decided that a hasty retreat to the pub was called for."

Was the matter ever resolved ? If necessary, I definitely think there should be a cross-party campaign, involving community groups and trade unions, to show solidarity with the chickens. To meet in the pub, naturally.


I did hesitate as to whether to reveal the identity of the sender as I wouldn`t want to intrude on the privacy of individuals. However, under the circumstances I think it`s OK to reveal that the letter was signed by one Aileen Orme of Leire, Leicestershire. If you ever find yourself in Leire, say "hello" to the chickens for me !

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wright County Works in Partnership

In 2009, Matt Walker of Wright County, Minnesota had an idea. An ex-Police Officer, he had been a member of the Teamsters Trade Union, his branch being Teamsters Local 320 (union branches in the US are known as `locals`). He was involved with his local Labor Council ( I would guess this is roughly the equivalent of a Trades Council over here), which was looking for a community project it could be involved with.

Both Matt and his father, former marine Terry, were volunteers with the Kriedler Cemetery Association (KCA), a small non-profit organisation which cared for the local cemetery. The Walkers are descendants of Daniel Kriedler, a nineteenth century man  whose family donated the land for the cemetery and who is buried there himself.

Matt suggested that the cemetery was in need of restoration and as a result, members of two local union branches, Boilermakers Local 647 and Cement Masons Local 633 spent a day repairing gravestones. 

This year, the trade unionists returned to do more work. "I hadn`t really asked again and they got hold of me." said Matt.

The work they undertook was considerable.

"They used spades to dig up gravestones which were sinking into the ground, cleaned the stones, then placed the stones level inside wooden frames which they filled with concrete. The new concrete base will keep the stones above ground longer." said Steve Share, editor of Minneapolis Labor Review.

I`m grateful to Steve Share of Minneapolis Labor Review for agreeing to my use of his picture of trade unionist  Ben Lewis (Boilermakers Local 647)  restoring gravestones in  Kriedler Cemetery.

Terry Walker described the work as "priceless", commenting that it "would be impossible " for the small-scale  KCA to have achieved anything comparable.

Terry Walker told the volunteers about the history of the cemetery, indicating graves of those who fell in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War One and World War Two.

Refreshments were provided by Working Partnerships, a union-related body, and materials were provided by the Cement Masons union.

For me personally, I would like to see comparable intitiatives introduced over here.

I appreciate that many trade unionists are reluctant to undertake work that someone else might otherwise be paid to do ("stealing someone`s job"), but there are many voluntary groups who would be glad of the assistance in situations where there is no possibility of anyone being paid to do the work. I myself was a volunteer worker on a local nature reserve for a time, and the work we did would simply not have happened if we hadn`t been there.

The Wright County initiative involved a number of union members, many being apprentices and instructors, in work that benefited both them and the wider community, work which would otherwise have not been done at all.

It`s interesting also the enthusiasm they brought to the job ; one man who participated in both days (2009 and 2013) spoke of being "excited" to have the "opportunity" to go back again. Another who also volunteered on both days had actually completed his apprenticeship in the meantime and was now a skilled man. He was  happy to be "giving back to the community" and felt that the project had other benefits ; "The Boilermakers have always been a strong trade as far as work ethic. This is part of  our program to instill that in the apprentiees."

Terry Walker was keen to emphasise the heritage aspect ; "There`s so much history here. We should pay a little more attention to our history."

"A lot of these graves aren`t visited any more but they should still be remembered." commented Matt Walker.

***I don`t usually bother with quoting sources and all that malarkey, but just to make it clear, there`s no original material from me here, and I`ve relied heavily on articles by Steve Share of Minneapolis Labor Review and Doug Voerding of Wright County Journal Press. Any mistakes/misunderstandings are my own and not theirs.***

On the Web ;

Wright County Journal Press/The Drummer ; www.thedrummer.com

Minneapolis Labor Review ; http://www.minneapolisunions.org/cluc_labor_review.php

Working Partnerships ; http://workingpartnerships.org

If you liked this article, you might also like ;

Nick Osmond, `This Month`s Good Cause ; The Commonwealth War Graves Commission`, this blog, 13 Aug 2013

Nick Osmond, `War Memorials`, http://angpav.blogspot.com, 13 June 2012

Nick Osmond, `Thomas Richardson MBE of Bomber Command and Later a Trade Unionist`, this blog, 29 Nov 2009

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Keep Hope Alive

This rather fine image was posted on Flickr by `MTSOfan`. I don`t have any particular message I want to convey by reproducing it here, I just liked the image and thought others might like it too.

To see more from this photographer cllick here ; http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsofan .

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Waingroves Show 2013

The village of Waingroves in Amber Valley will become a whirlwind of activity this weekend.

Among many other attractions and activities there will be live entertainment on the evening of Friday 13 September 2013  (unspecified, though I`ve heard there may be a rock `n` roll element).

 On Saturday 14 September 2013 there will be a Horticultural and Craft Show at the Community Centre, an Art Exhibition at the Methodist Church and much else.

Mancunian Steel (as you might imagine, a steel band from Manchester*) will be appearing on Sunday 15 September 2013 and the weekend`s activities will be brought to a close with a Spitfire and Hurricane Flypast.

I personally would like to go and play on the bouncy castle but perhaps I`m a bit too old for that !

Afteer all that, you might think they`d all want to have a little lie down for a bit, but in fact Waingroves Methodist Church will be hosting an evening of barber shop music** on Saturday 28 September 2013.

For more on events in Amber Valley, click here ;  http://www.ambervalley.info/events.asp

* http://www.simillerphotography.com/wedding-reception-entertainment-steel-pan-band

** http://grandcentralchorus.com/where-to-see-us-2

        Member of Mancunian Steel. I`m grateful to photographer Si Miller for allowing me to use this picture of his. For more about the hugely talented Mr M, visit www.simillerphotography.com .


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Autumn Footprints

It`s walking festival time again, and `Autumn Footprints ; the Amber Valley and Erewash Walking Festival` begins soon ( www.autumnfootprints.co.uk )..

For details of it`s equivalents elsewhere, try this link ; http://www.walkmag.co.uk/category/news/events .

Priestley As He Is Spoke

You may have heard of the book English as She is Spoke, an attempt at a Portugese-English phrase book which, as Wikipedia comments "is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour."

Mark Twain was a big fan ; "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce it`s fellow ; it is perfect."

Stephen Pile was even more enthusiastic ; "Is there anything in conventional English which could equal the vividness of  `to craunch a marmoset`?" 

While EASIS may never be equalled it does at least have a modern equivalent in an article I found online recently which concerned itself with J B Priestley`s An Inspector Calls ;


Who could disagree with this essay`s author when he comments that "The tactics at rootage gives the film of a spy thriller and latishr regain words itself as a morals tale."

The occupation ascribed to the character Arthur Birling, "a wealthy military personnelufacturer",  was almost believeable, given the ridiculous job titles some companies come up with, and there is a certain zing to the observation that the arrival of Priestley`s inspector "disrupts the casual biz."

What makes this piece of critical analysis especially interesting is the fact that it is only a short extract from a larger work which the reader is invited to order. Presumably this is a service offered to students to help with their education.

I wait with interest to hear if anyone has been unwise enough to make use of it..


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Talking Dance Man

This blog occasionally takes it upon itself to acquaint the world with the activities of author A R Dance.

Bookish types may wish to know that this literary lad will be giving a talk to Bramcote History Group on 16 September 2013 ( http://www.bramcotehistory.org.uk/programme.html ) , and that his latest historical novel The Westbrook Affair will be published in early October ( www.arundelbooks.co.uk ) . Arundel Books promise  that it will be "a gripping story of poverty and wealth, betrayal and greed, and ultimately the search for justice."

I presume the Dance man`s back catalogue continues to be available from Arundel. i believe we have a few second-hand copies of some of his titles, including a couple of signed ones ( http://www.abebooks.co.uk/Hoonaloon-Books-Derbyshire/53404521/sf ) .

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

This Month`s Good Cause

This month I`ve decided to leave This Month`s Good Cause unchanged and take this opportunity to look back over the causes I`ve chosen in previous months.

I thught I`d also mention some bits and pieces that I thought about mentioning last month but which didn`t get used as I didn`t want to go overboard with the links.

This Month`s Good Causes to date ;

September 2013 - Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org)

August 2013       - Commonwealth War Graves Commision (http://www.cwgc.org)

July 2013            - Friends of Cromford Canal (www.cromfordcanal.info)
                            - Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust (http://derbycanal.org.uk)

June 2013            - NHS BLood and Transplant (www.blood.co.uk)

May 2013            - Anti Slavery (www.antislavery.org)

April 2013           - Derbyshire Blood Bikes (www.derbyshirebloodbikes.org)

March 2013         - Brake (www.brake.org.uk)


Here are some links I thought about using last month. Although I decided not to on that occasion, they are worth a look ;


Simon Rogers - The Forgotten Soldiers - The Guardian - 10 Nov 2008 (George Blackman) (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/nov/10/first-world-war-colonial-soldiers-racism )

Alderson/Paulin - Jamaican Who Fought in Somme Will Meet the Queen  - The Telegraph - 17 Feb 2002 (Eugent Clarke)


Monday, 2 September 2013

A Play in the Park (Heanor Memorial Park)

A new venture being proposed in my neck of the woods is that Heanor Memorial Park could be used as a venue for family-friendly theatre events on Sunday afternoons.

The proposal is supported by Amber Valley Borough Council, Ripley and Heanor News and the Derby Evening Telegraph.

Once again, the ever-dependable Amber Valley Info is on hand to tell us more ;