Thursday, April 27, 2023

19th October 1946 - my first visit to see Sunderland play.

 The link below is to the programme of the first football league game I ever attended. It was held at Sunderland's ground which was then at Roker Park. My father took me as I was only aged ten. Normally I then went to watch him play in goal at home and away matches for a local team called Easington Village Rovers. So our visits to Roker Park were then limited depending on his team not having a game. About a couple of years later I started watching regular matches at Roker Park with my school mates. Sunderland then playing in the top division of the Football League.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Diane Abbott's letter.


Although Diane Abbott has apologised for her letter to the Guardian which led to her loss of membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party, she remains suspended. This is the letter that she is suspended over.

"Tomiwa Owolade claims that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from “racism” (“Racism in Britain is not a black and white issue. It’s far more complicated”, Comment). They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable.

It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice. But they are not all their lives subject to racism. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.
Diane Abbott
House of Commons, London SW1"

Her letter clearly ignores leading experiences of racism such as the Holocaust. Given a comment from her opposing all forms of racism, she should then quickly have her membership restored.  This matter could also have been resolved without her explusion from the Parliamenary Labour Party.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Past Coal Mining in Dronfield

 Dronfield is pock marked with former mining operations going back to the ancient operation of bell pits. These were dug out gradually in rows, each with a single overtop entrance. When one had coal removed from it a new bell pit was then dug next door to it when it was emptied. Thus eventually helping to empty a full coal seam. What we recognise as more modern forms of pits with coal seams were later put into operation. Numbers of old bell pits may still need to be discovered, as happened when the Dronfield By Pass was built.

      The Coal Authority keep on eye on the impact of past local mining operations. But there are few signs of serious dangers having arisen from past operations since Dronfield was expanded. But the type of caution we need to take is that fracking operations never now take part in the area.

     For details of past mining operations see

Saturday, December 31, 2022

The sad loss of Alice Mahon

Alice Mahon

It is deeply sad for me to learn of the death of Alice Mahon. We were both Labour MPs for exactly the same period from 1987 to 2005 and shared in many similar political and social activities at Westminister. She died on Xmas Day.

We were both members of the Socialist Campaign Group and often participated in identical Commons activities due to our shared political interests. We also met up in similar social circles, drawn together with others due to our common political concerns.

Prior to being MPs we had both obtained University Degrees as adults and went on to teach Trade Unionists. 

Unlike myself, she resigned from the Labour Party in April 2009; although I shared many of her concerns about its problematic development. 

Details of her telling life can be found here -



Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Edith's Story


Edith Jacques lived from 1909 until 2012. Her twin sons Terrance and Ernie were born in 1938 and at their current age of 84 have written the above fine biography about their mother. The book is very impressive, even more so as it is the only book they have ever written.

     "Edith's Story" is particulary telling and hopefully it will help to start a new trend in the writing of biographies. For the bulk of biographies we normally turn to are about people we have already heard about. From prominent heroes such as Nelson Mandela to villians such as Adolf Hitler. Few working class people get the biographical coverage which tells us about the social and personal problems they were obliged to tackle. Edith handled these in an impressive way. Being faced with especially harsh conditions from the time of her birth, until improvements which she made effective use of with the establishment of the Welfare State from 1945.

    Edith came from a long line of families where the men were agricultural labourers, including her father who died when she was only 10. Then the following year her mother broke her back and was bed ridden for the rest of her life. Edith was obliged to pack in schooling to look after her invalid mother and her younger brother. For by then her four elder sisters had all left home to become domestic servants, the main form of employment that was then open to females. Her four older brothers being agricultural labourers.

    Beyond nursing her mother and doing the housework, Edith grew vegitables for consumption and sale. Then even when she married an agricultural labourer at 18 she continued to help her mother and also her mother-in-law who soon became ill and was eventually taken into a workhouse at York in the area where Edith lived.

    With the subsequent deaths of her mother and mother-in-law, Edith settled for a while into the more normal life of the wife of an agricultural labourer, starting her own family with a son. Then in 1938 she gave birth to the twins who wrote this biography. But disaster struck. As her husband cycled to record their births he was hit by a torrential rain storm. It led to his death only a fortnight later.

   Pursuing her struggle to survive, Edith gained employment at RAF Clinton nearbye. She worked a nine hour shift and a six day week. Looking after her young twins became a massive problem. In 1941 she sort to square the circle by placing them locally at York in Dr. Barnardos home. She expected this would give her a regular opportunity to see them. But matters soon changed. For the twins (who wrote this biography) were quickly shunted distantly from place to place, almost ending up in Australia. They experienced 13 distant moves as far apart as Dumfries and Essex. She faced great difficulties in tracing them, sending letters and attempting to visit her sons. Only in 1943 did she finally managed to visit them in Scotland and then two years later in Sussex.

    In 1947 Edith gained fresh employment in York at Rowntrees, eventually becoming a trade union representative and also took in a lodger. She had moved into a Council House and was finally in a position to reclaim her twins from Barnados. Edith's help and influence over them being shown by their moving on to qualify via the Open University and now producing this telling biography.

   My great hope is that amongst those who decide to read this fine book, will be numbers who then decide to turn their own hands to writing about their own equivalent working class parents. Even if like me (being two years older than the Jacques twins) all they come up are blog items about their working class mother and/or father. Such works can tell us much that we need to know about the shaping of our society, even more than works about the high and mighty.

Although the book is some 400 pages long and is littered with many relevant photographs and key references, I found to be a compelling work explaining Edith's extremely tough but compelling life. It is a long time since I have been consumed a biography so quickly.

(For my own modest blog efforts on my own parents see and )

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Fracking Minister Resigns.

 Great news - Jacob Rees Mogg the MP in charge of Fracking has resigned as Business Secretary. Hopefully this indicates that fracking will bite the dust.

 28 October sees the return of controls on fracking. See -

For more nonsense from Rees Mogg on facking see -

3:4 portrait of Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

Monday, October 10, 2022

Commons Library on Fracking Dangers

 See this House of Commons Library Briefing Paper published on 31 March 2020. It reveals the serious dangers fracking can lead to especially in former built upon Coal Mining Areas such as the one in the item below this one. Link into