February 25, 2012

An Untold Story


So Wales, the small country I come from, beat England at rugby over the weekend…and on Sunday night Meryl Streep won best actress at the Oscars, for her part in The Iron Lady, the film about Margaret Thatcher.

It seems like a good time then to tell you all about this project: The Gritties
which I’ve been working on in my spare time for a couple of years, helped now by Clare Christian, editor extraordinaire.

The story is about the women in the miners strike of 1984/85, a year of violent industrial unrest in the UK. I have invented the group of women and what they get up to – but I did a lot of research beforehand.

People told me incredible things, like how, 25 years on, scab miners are still banned from local pubs in some pit villages. I heard about tarrings and featherings, and how Margaret Thatcher’s henchman toured pit villages, in a chaffeur-driven Mercedes, seeking out anti-strikers to wine and dine in Claridges. In many ways the dispute was a fight to the death between Margaret Thatcher, regarded by many as a she-devil, and Arthur Scargill, leader of the miners, who some called ‘a donkey leading lions’.

Both these characters still remain newsworthy, though in contrasting contexts. Just last week, a judge ordered Arthur to be repaid expenses due him from the National Union of Mineworkers.

Now rather than this just being a puff post for my book – and without going all earnest on you – I want to remind us all that in these days of mainstream culture embracing Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and the Royal Jubilee, there are other stories waiting to be told and other voices waiting to be heard. Overlooked, and rich in potential.

We don’t all have to know our place…indeed knowing and our accepting our place is probably the most strangling and stultifying thing we can do to our culture and progress generally…

For this post, I asked my teenage sons what they considered exciting culture nowadays. They championed the US series, Community. If anyone is involved in anything else exciting happening, please let me know. I can’t be the only consumer seeking some cultural spunk…

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. As someone who achieved some financial success in the advertising industry but also huge moral debt in the Thatcher years I just thought that I should leave a thought for others to ponder. Whatever has happened to young people’s capacity to question and rebel? We see this government making life ever more difficult for everyone outsidde the top strata of society yet we hear almost no dissent. Why? What has shifted in the last 25 years? Do we no longer have any idealists – even if they are misguided idealists?

    Reply
    • Hi Danny … and you pose some really fascinating questions here.

      Am thinking that for 15 years young people have had the web to channel their idealism into – it’s difficult to go to a conference today without someone playing an evangelical, ‘we are all connected and sharing online’ sort of video… And I suspect we can get so caught up in this is ‘all so new and hopeful’ that we overlook questions like ‘Hang on a minute, how does the online economy really work?’ Freemium is all well and good, but to sell your premium and build a good business, you have to have a loyal and considerable customer base…

      Whether we dissent about government or not will depend on us paying their actions attention and then believing it matters enough to act to do something about it and wanting to do this collectively. Might it be that many of us have split attention today between our online and offline lives -if we feel peed off about something happening locally and live, we go and distract ourselves at the online eco-portal which makes us feel like a global responsible citizen…? We all need a sense of place in the world, and a sense that what we are into matters – if we can’t get that locally and live today, we can go online… This scaling up of our attention, of course, will make us increasingly tribal to offset insecurity… a bit living in a huge city, where we need a much clearer sense of identity than we may do in a small village…

      Don’t get me wrong here – I love the web and its potential – but a bit like Margaret Thatcher said about her era ‘there is no such thing as society’ and despite all the talk of ‘social’ networking… I feel we’ve got a way to go to create evolved and civilized society online… unless of course, it is this comments column!

      Thanks v much for this – you certainly got my brain working on a Monday morning – and all best to you.

      Reply

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