Saturday, March 05, 2005

I Wonder Why*

Christ, what's going on? I'm scrambling around for scraps and willo the wisp blog links to post on here to give the illusion of industry and deep thought when pushing the 'publish' button on blogger, but it's hampered by the fact that I can't be arsed to knuckle down to the industry and research that will ensure that a post goes beyond a half-chewed paragraph and a "Ooh, fancy that" from the Greek Chorus looking over my shoulder whilst I'm typing this.
Then what happens, I bump into Keith - pronounced "Keef" in a piss poor imitation of Phil Cornwell doing Mick Jagger - and I do my obligatory verse from Oliver's Army and/or Alison 'cos he's the dead spit of Elvis Costello (what's a joke if it can't be hackneyed and well worn?), and we launch into a conversation on British Labour History which encompasses such subjects as the Weekly and Sunday Worker papers of the 1920s; William Rust's editorship of the Daily Worker; Grey Lynn's war novella 'The Return of Karl Marx' and my unproven contention that Lynn sought to portraythe Marx of wartime London as a Poum'ist in Palmers Green or a Trotskyist from Turnpike Lane; AE Reade, the Balham Group and early British Trotskyism; Harry Pollitt's biog, 'Serving My Time', which I discover he wrote far earlier than I had previously presumed ("Keef" reckons he wrote it after going on a wee holiday in '39 from the leadership of the CPGB for opposing the Nazi-Soviet Pact, but for some reason I presumed it was published in '55 but now that I think about it I may have confused it with John Mahon's biog of "Harry Pollute" (as the SPGB speakers used to call him) though I've only read Kevin Morgan's biog of Harry from Manchester University Press's Lives of the Left Series from a few years ago; Pollitt's time in Sylvia Pankhurst's Workers Socialist Federation and when exactly did he join the CP? 'cos "Keef" thinks that 'Arry was deliberately vague in his autobiog; the Shop Stewards Movement during the First World War; Palme Dutt - fuck, you've got to mention Palme Dutt if you are going to rant about Pollitt; Stuart McIntyre's 'Proletarian Science', which I read years ago but can only remember snatches of it; from that how "Keef" met someone - Ruth Frow - who actually met T.A Jackson and then we compare and contrast the merits and demerits of the Marx Memorial Library versus the Frow's library in Manchester and "Keef" mentions that the Frow library though smaller is good 'cos it has a nearly complete set of Justice (there is always a volume missing of Justice in any collection - Hyndman's revenge? Or Bax getting you back?); mention of a bound volume of the Socialist Standard from 1907 in the Frow collection, which apparently has a blue cover ("Keef" notices these things, I take pride in not noticing these things); and then we get on to talking about Manchester Branch of the SPGB and when it was strongest in its history - "Keef" guessing the twenties but we both agree that was a low point for Party fortunes (no sniggering at the back), and then we talk about Glasgow Branch and its better days of the fifties and sixties. Throw in a mention of J.R Campbell; some book by Alison McLeod that I read and enjoyed a few years back, but which for the life of me I can't presently remember the title of (McLeod was a member of the Daily Worker staff in the forties and fifties, and the book relates the trials and tribulations of that office environment in those days - Office Space it ain't; and somewhere in amongst all that lot talk of the 'Hands of Russia' campaign that propelled Pollitt to national prominence after the First World War and whether or not the CPB have published anything to mark the 75th anniversary of the first issue of the Daily Worker, and do I mention any of this chat on the blog? Nah, can't be arsed.
This post was written under the influence. Back to the lame arse stuff, next post. Requests on a postcard for any links for any of the above mentioned ethemera.
* I Wonder Why - The brilliant Ella Fitzgerald song that I've never heard more than thirty seconds of in an Insurance Advert on TV from last year. Winmx and Kazaa refuse to return my calls on the subject, so if anyone wants to send me the song as an email attachment you'll make me very happy ;-)
Update - Mmm, just for clarification: Why are two SPGBers seemingly obsessed by the old CP and especially 'Arry? We're not - we just like talking about Labour History up to the nineteen forties for some reason. It's our small talk, if you like. Memory serves me right - last time we ranted in a similar fashion, it was about the old De Leonist Socialist Labour Party in Britain, with special attention given to Len Cotton. On other occasions we swap anecdotes about various warehouses and factories we worked in at various times in Watford and Hemel. Close your eyes sometimes, and it's like the Algonquin Table transported to the 21st century London: only difference being, no American accents and, erm, no table.

5 comments:

hakmao said...

466 words without a full stop - very industrious.

Darren said...

Aye, it's amazing the rubbish you can allow yourself to churn out when you have the excuse of alcohol in your bloodstream ;-)

On reading it again, I like how the post is bookended by the pretentiousness of mentioning a greek chorus at the start and the Algonquin Table at the end. If your cheeks can't redden at that, what can a blogger blush at?

466 words without a full stop? Well, 2005 is the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the IWW, and I always loved that quote attributed to the wob Ben Fletcher when him and his comrades were in the dock, experiencing first hand the class nature of the state: "There something wrong with that judge's grammar. His sentences are too long." ;-)

Reidski said...

What a cracker of a quote! And, it must be said, what a cracker of a post.
And...it's surely not the job of the CPB to mark the 75th anniversary of the Daily Worker/Morning Star as the paper(s) has/have never been in the ownership of the party, but, rather, been under the ownership of whoever wants to buy a share in the People's Press Printing Society, which has an AGM ever year and which has an open democratic structure that every shareholder can participate in. It may so happen that the editorial line of the paper is the British Road to Socialism, which is also the political programme of the CPB, but that is merely coincidental........
Pollit was correct, by the way!

Darren said...

"It may so happen that the editorial line of the paper is the British Road to Socialism, which is also the political programme of the CPB, but that is merely coincidental........"

Aye, I know mate. I think this one qualifies as a Mexican stand off ;-)

Btw - good results at the weekend up the road. Actually looks like something from the season will be salvaged. Now if only I could come up with a variation of 'Super Caley . . . ." in honour of the draw Saturday.

Reidski said...

The title is ours - we not only beat Hibs, but absolutely slaughtered them! As Steve Archibald said at half time: "It's men against boys."