Got a lift down to Brighton with Debbie and Sue, band girlfriends, to see the Redskins perform again. They were shit hot, really tight, and the brass section were blasting out all the songs I’m growing to love,’Keep On Keepin’ On’, ‘Go Get Organised’, ‘Take No Heroes’, ’16 Tons’. Great stuff! Martin called for me to go up on stage and I was bloody blushing because the packed crowd were chanting, ‘We want Norman Strike, we want Norman Strike’. I felt like a pop star myself! I made a speech and got a tremendous round of applause. Wish I could do this every night, especially the free food and booze in the dressing room afterwards. Early hours car ride back to London, flying!
Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page
Adrian, the Redskins manager, ‘hired’ me as a ‘roadie’ for their gig in Hammersmith Town Hall but it was really a gesture of solidarity because there was no work for me to do. A man has to live.
It was a brilliant gig and the band were on top form in front of 1200 fans. I was really embarrassed, and chuffed, by the number of people who recognised me from ‘The Tube’ but it did give me the chance to have some good discussions, and my collection bucket was really full. The Three Johns were the support band and I really loved their set. Jon Langford is a brilliant guitarist and the guy on vocals is manic. Excellent. I got the chance to speak in front of my biggest audience yet and got a fantastic reception. Good for the ego.
After the gig I collected with some Kent miners and when we counted it up we found we had £210, which was brilliant. Chris told us there were some striking miners from Notts who were worse off than us so I halved my share with them because the Kent miners refused point blank to give them anything! They disgusted me to be honest because there are fewer miners in Kent than at Westoe alone, and they have really milked the support from London. So much for solidarity!
I heard from my solicitor in Newcastle this morning that my trial in Edinburgh has been set for February 7th, no bail conditions. Civilised people, the Scots. Me mam always calls them Scotchies.
Gary rang and told me only 7 scabs have gone into Westoe this morning because they’d been visited and shown the error of their ways! Good! Mind you, the NCB have offered another bribe of £175 plus back pay to any miner who returns to work before next Friday. The bastards are getting really desperate now, but their 30 pieces of silver will only succeed with a tiny minority.
The majority of us will treat it with the contempt it deserves, especially as it comes straight after the tories deducting a further £1 from the pittance a miner’s family is supposed to live on, about £14 a week, all normal bills expected to be paid. Debt! Single miners get nothing, not even picket pay for me just now, a charity case living off handouts from supporters.
I met some ambulance drivers in Kenton and was given £20 in cash, and the promise of regular sums to be sent to the kitchen. If all this money from London is written down on the sheet at Westoe it should really give them heart to see the range of their support.
I can speak to Jen and Sasha on the phone, but Kath refuses to speak to me. Bloody hell! I just don’t think I deserve this.
I visited bus depots in Cricklewood, Westbourne Park, and Shepherds Bush. I managed to get the mechanics at one garage twinned with the kitchen but everyone else was already committed elsewhere. I did a first for me, addressing a meeting on the top deck of a bus because management wouldn’t allow me inside the depot. It was a novel experience and fairly successful. No money but good support. One thing I noticed today was the tremendous we get from the black community. I know what Brixton and Toxteth were really about now, having been at ‘The Battle of Orgreave’, and am a proud card carrying member of the ‘Enemy Within’.
I was invited to an SWP Cocktail Party last night in Harlesden, I think. It was hosted by Steve and Fiona Brown, a lovely couple, in their home, but those cocktail things are friggin’ lethal! I passed out well before the end and woke in the early hours and staggered back to Chris’s. It was all in a good cause because they raised £66, and Steve and Fiona added £50 from their own pockets.
I phoned Marion at the kitchen today and she told me they urgently need funds because they’re now dealing with 250 pickets a day plus families. It just makes me wonder what would have happened at lots of places if they’d joined us earlier. It’s just a pity its taken scabs at the pit to get them off their arses! Anyway, I sent off all the money I’ve collected so far by registered post so they should get it tomorrow.
I have spent the week visiting colleges and factories from Kilburn to Croydon but the best meeting happened this morning at the Central Middlesex Hospital, near Neasden. I had been invited to speak by the NALGO shop stewards and my audience was a group of female office workers who I was warned were very hostile towards the strike. They stopped work and listened to me for about ten minutes as I told them about my own experience of the strike, and how I saw picket line violence, about being jailed and banned off picket lines, and how I was trying to collect funds for the kitchen. I told them how the families of striking miners got next to nothing off the state, and single miners got nothing at all. They fired all the usual questions at me, i.e why should taxpayers keep uneconomic pits open. I asked them how much they thought the electricity bills would go up if we end up relying on foreign coal? I felt really good when we’d finished, with them agreeing to pay a weekly levy to the Westoe kitchen. Not only that but a woman who had asked the hardest questions gave me a fiver from her purse. This has shown me yet again that even the most hardened of critics can have their views changed by hearing our side of the story.
The Redskins have gone on tour but Chris has let me stay until he gets back. Kath hasn’t returned my calls so I guess our marriage really is over. Can’t take it in somehow. Unreal.
Bloody hell!! Just had a phonecall telling me 30 scabs have gone into Westoe, straight through the picket line in a ‘battlebus’, all silvered windows and steel mesh. I can’t believe it, though they reckon most of them are from affiliated unions, not the NUM. How do they know? As far as I’m concerned its the union officials at Westoe who are responsible for this because they did nothing to encourage men to get on the picket line, even after the disgraceful attack on the community by the pigs. We must get to these passive men somehow because if we don’t, 30 will soon turn into 300!
I did a paper sale at Dollis Hill tube and was shown the site of Grunwicks. It’s a pity we can’t get the same support! Sold 5 papers and got almost £10 in a bucket collection.
Today is Jennifer’s 12th birthday and it’s the first one I’ve not been there for her. I spoke to her on the phone and promised to bring her a present when I get home, but its not the same and I felt really depressed today. Sorry sweetheart, I really am!
Chris took me along to his record company, London records, so that the bands press officer, Eugene Manzi, could put together a press release about ‘The Tube’. It was a novel experience for me and I was surprised they could get a photo off tv to use with it. Best of all, I was allowed to help myself to as many records as I could carry. I got a pile of old Rolling Stones stuff, and some records I thought the girls might like, The Fine Young Cannibals and others. I think Chris was a bit embarrassed as we left with me struggling to carry my booty. It was excellent!
This afternoon a London comrade took me to a DHSS office in Harrow and the workers there have agreed to support the soup kitchen, which is brilliant.
Norman Willis, the new fat bastard in charge of the TUC, spoke at a miners rally in Wales and had the bloody nerve to condemn picket line violence! What planet are these people on? The miners responded by booing loudly until some enterprising lads lowered a noose in front of him. They should’ve lynched the fat bastard! I thought Len Murray was a disgrace but this bugger makes him seem militant.
The NCB have offered a £650 Christmas bonus to anyone who scabs before November ends. Bastards!
I really enjoyed the Redskins gig tonight at the Bunker Club, a miners benefit, and the band were brilliant. They played with passion and the lyrics were excellent. I loved the music as well, great brass section. My favourite was ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’ because I can really relate to the line, ‘I’m not down but I’m feeling low’. Kind of sums me up just now. Mind you, I did feel a little out of place amongst the fashionable Sunderland crowd.
Afterwards Chris told me the band are appearing live on TV on Friday, on the ‘Tube’ and asked me if I would make a brief appearance. I didn’t need to be asked twice and I’m visiting them for rehearsals on Thursday in Newcastle. I’m excited.