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…