Monday, July 12, 2004

The evil people who flew those planes into the twin towers did so for one reason. They wanted to start a war between Muslims and the West. And like fools they fell for it.

Normally I start with a Billy Bragg lyric. Tonight I have kicked off with a quote from one of his between-songs preambles.

This evening I was lucky enough to attend what the organisers called "An evening of music, comedy and drama to mark the 20th anniversary of the miner's strike." It was held in Durham at the end of the weekend that saw the celebration of the 2004 Miners Gala.

I missed the Gala. It's one of those events that year-by-year I intend to attend but never quite manage it. This year I was at a stag do in York. We were just setting off on the drive home when a friend rang us up to offer the tickets.

BB topped the bill and due to amp problems he played a very rare, almost unheard of, acoustic set, it was an honour to be there. Having seen him on half a dozen previous occasions, I have to say this will probably stay in my memory the longest. It was just a little bit special.

Anyway, I thought the aforementioned Iraq quote was the neatest summing up of just how ludicrous this war is.

Being part of the 20th anniversary of the miners strike was a little odd. I have nothing but admiration for the miners who stuck out the strike so long and their sense of pride and community. On more than one occasion I heard 1984 described as someone's best and worst year ever. You can certainly understand these sentiments.

But I also feel a little out of place at such gatherings. I was 13 in 1984 and probably too young to do "my bit" in any way. But, it was really many years later before I realised the significance of the strike.

It's fair to say that not just Britain, but even the world, would be a different place if the miners had won. Sometimes it seems that the entire globe followed Thatcher's political agenda. If she had been defeated, then who knows how different society would be now.

What really makes me feel awkward about such "celebrations" is that although I wish that the miners had been successful, I am also acutely aware that I would never want a child of mine to work in a pit. Maybe we should be mourning lost communities more than lost jobs. Either way the fight that Thatcher picked meant major hardships for the large part of the UK. While the North East's major towns and cities are changing for the better, there are communities that have virtually stood still since the pits were closed.

My knowledge of the strike is almost entirely gained from reading about it as a watershed in British history. Certainly while working my way through Tony Benn's diaries I was very moved by his account of joining the miners for their march back to work. To be a part of the strike really must have been as glorious, and as sad, as miner's say.

Finally, I'll finish with another Billy Bragg one liner that he came out with tonight.

"I'm not for New Labour, I'm not for Old Labour. I'm for organised labour."

Perhaps the only difference is that the workers now need worldwide links and awareness. The fight against globalisation, remains largely a fight for workers' rights.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.