normanstrike

Posts Tagged ‘Gary Marshall’

130. Monday December 17th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Today we had our Xmas Dinner in the kitchen and it was brilliant! The place was packed with families and single lads and we had entertainment, live music and a three course dinner with turkey and stuffing. There were also presents for the kids given personally by Santa but provided by all our supporters. I felt really proud at how things have grown since our small start, all thanks to the hard work of Gary, Florrie, Marion, Alison, Maureen and George, and the support from the long list of donors on sheets of paper hanging on the walls. We have achieved what we set out to do and that was to provide a focal point where people can come and sit in the warm and share their hopes and fears, and have a really nice meal. Jen and Sasha love it there, though Kath never brings them, probably to avoid questions about me.

Strangely I felt a bit like an outsider until Gary told me to come back down to earth and get back to being a poverty stricken miner instead of hobnobbing amongst the stars. He is right, but it was a good experience, even if it does make me feel guilty. Nowt new there then.

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122. Friday November 23rd, 1984.

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

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.

112. Tuesday October 30th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Gary and me attended a meeting in Gateshead organised by the NALGO Support Group. It was a very constructive meeting, though we had some tricky questions to answer about Scargill and his alleged visit to Libya, as revealed by the Sunday Times. All we could think of to reply was the fact that because the Tories are trying to starve us back to work then we must have the right to accept money from wherever we can het it from. We also said that the Tories themselves have bought oil and other good from Libya so they were hypocrites. Anyway, we have been promised support and that’s the important thing.

Privately I think Scargill has made a stupid mistake in giving the Tories and their media even more ammunition in their campaign to totally discredit him. He should’ve sent someone who couldn’t be linked to the NUM. That’s what the Tories do.

The situation between Kath and me is growing worse. We can’t even talk to each other and she is still very bitter about losing her job. She blames me for it because of being active and getting arrested. Things can’t go on like this because the strike gives me enough hassle without her adding to it.

111. Friday October 26th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm

We had a very busy day in the kitchen, serving over 100 bowls of broth, which is a vast improvement on Monday’s poor start. Gary takes the credit for this. He’s a dab hand in the kitchen and seems to really enjoy the cooking. He won’t let anyone near ‘his broth’, except to give it an occasional stir. This is fine by me because I much prefer fund raising.

We received yet another cheque from Manchester for £49 which is a welcome addition to our funds. We also received a visit from a couple of journalists from the local evening rag, not renowned for its support of the strike, or miners in general. I wasn’t too surprised because one of them is a comrade, which just goes to show the SWP attracts all sections of the workforce. They gave us a cheque for £16 which was gratefully received. It’s even more important because we can add the National Union of Journalists to our list of supporters and this will give a boost to people who are beginning to feel everyone is against them.

109. Wednesday October 24th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Oh gosh, what a surprise, NACOD’s have called off their threatened strike. Traitorous shitbags!

A coachload of our men were prevented from attending a ‘No Sell Out’ demonstration in Sheffield by the pigs. They were ordered to turn around and return to Durham. Oh gosh, what a surprise, who would have thought it?

As a result the soup kitchen was quiet today, unlike yesterday when we had a meeting with the Wives Support Group. They have changed their minds and are now totally against the kitchen, even though Gary and me are prepared to run it ourselves. They also took offence when we suggested they should be more open about their finances to prevent criticism. We tried to be constructive but got nowhere and they left. This doesn’t bode well for the future if we can’t work together. One positive thing is that Marion and Alison want to help because they are bored with just giving out food tokens. Gary and me went with them to the Trustees Saving Bank on Boldon Lane and we’ve opened an account in the name of, ‘Westoe Miners Soup Kitchen’, casting originality to the wind. I am Secretary, Gary is the Chairman, Marion is Treasurer, and Alison is Assistant Secretary. We have £230 to start off with which should keep us going for a few weeks.

Today Marion and Alison brought along Florrie, who must be in her sixties, and is the most fantastic worker I’ve ever met. She looks frail but works harder than anyone else and puts Gary and me to shame! She told me a great story  about the 1972 atrike. Her husband and two sons, Norman and John, worked at Westoe, and when she was out shopping one day in the local shop a woman made a nasty comment about miners. Florrie told her to watch her mouth and warned her not to repeat her remarks or she would stick her in the freezer! Foolishly the woman repeated her insults and Florrie carried out her threat and upended the woman straight into the chest freezer. The woman ran home to fetch her husband, and when he arrived Florrie threatened to do the same to him if he didn’t shut up! They stormed out of the shop. I mention this story to show the wonderful spirit and pride of a fantastic woman, staunch in her support of the miners. She is an inspiration to us all and she typifies the fighting spirit of the mining communities.

107. Sunday October 21st, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm

There was a union meeting this morning, called at short notice. I only found out because Gary called me early. We should have been prepared for a move like this because it was obvious they weren’t going to let us build on the anger of the men at the last meeting. The Chairman proudly announced that two committee men have volunteered to attend picket lines, and he also announced that men banned from picket lines would be paid £2 a day if they help the Women’s Support Group. Unfortunately there weren’t enough men present to mount an attack on the Chairman for his behaviour at the last meeting so he got away with it, this time. we should have campaigned more amongst the pickets. Still, we didn’t so thats that.

Gary and me spent all afternoon and most of this evening cleaning out the Welfare, especially the kitchen, which is now spotless and ready to go, as is the ‘Baby Burco’ boiler which has been thoroughly scrubbed. We peeled the potatoes and carrots ready for tomorrow and left them in water overnight, as we did with the lentils and peas. Gary is a real fusspot and has us scrubbing every inch of the walls and floor, but the end result was worth all the sweat. The Welfare has never looked so clean for months. All we need now is for a lot of people to use it.

101. Thursday October 4th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

As expected, the jellybacks in NACOD’s have gone into talks with the NCB through ACAS. It’s a bloody tragedy! After recording a strike vote that surprised us all the bastards have backed down. They could’ve done what we’ve so far failed to do, make Thatcher do another U – turn, and stop the scabs in Notts and elsewhere. I hope I’m wrong but I think they’ll reach a compromise.

Gary, Keith and me had a meeting this afternoon at Gary’s house. It was a useful exercise and one we hope to repeat on a weekly basis. The most important thing to come out of the meeting is our decision to reopen the soup kitchen at Harton which closed during the summer due to lack of funds and customers. Our first task is to start building up a reserve of cash to ensure we can keep it running once we start. We think it will be excellent because it can serve as a focal point for the pickets and be a place where everyone can discuss their problems. At least it will give me something constructive to do.

Today is the 10th birthday of my youngest daughter, Sasha, and thanks to Kath’s final pay packet we were able to give her a nice present, which is more than most striker’s kids will get. We’ve been lucky and it’s a pity Kath can’t appreciate that.

91. Monday September 10th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

We woke up early and I took Chris down to the Westoe picket line and introduced him to some of the lads. No one tried to go in so still 100% solid.

We went around to Gary’s house near the pit and had tea and toast. Chris interviewed Gary, but only after politely telling me to shut up because I was answering all the questions. We also visited Dave Farham who lives just down the road, and Chris made sure I didn’t interrupt by doing his interview in the kitchen whilst I looked after Leah, Dave’s baby daughter.

This evening I took Chris down to the ‘Shack’ in Boldon Colliery. The pit shut down years ago and the land is now used to stockpile coal, thousands of tons of it. We tried to find some striking miners but were unsuccessful, not surprising really as buying food is more important than buying beer. Chris did manage to talk to two old men who remembered 1926 but their memories were mostly about the poverty in those days. One of them did mention a scab who had died in the 60’s and no one came to his funeral bar the vicar! That’s what’ll happen to anyone who has the gall to scab at Westoe!

We visited John McIvor, who had been really active at the start of the strike but then had just stopped coming. He seemed the perfect person to start oour policy of getting more men out on the picket line but when he told us he’d just spent £300 buying a dog I had grave doubts. However, he sounded keen and promised to come to Wearmouth tomorrow so we’ll see, The picket there has been set for 2pm, so perhaps something has been organised.

Chris and me were talking for ages before I left him to get some sleep. Early star tomorrow. I like his music because it’s all political, no love songs.

90. Sunday September 9th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I had intended staying at home today with Kath but we had a blazing row so I went to Doncaster for an SWP miners meeting instead. I’m glad I did because it gave us the opportunity to discuss how the strike is going in our respective areas. There was general agreement that the strike is now firmly on the defensive, with all of us mainly concerned with stopping scabs breaking the strike. To ensure this we need to get more men out onto the picket lines, and as Ian Mitchell from Silverwood told us from his own experience, the way to do that is to ‘go on the knocker’ and visit every striking miner we can to argue why they should be active. At the very least it could prevent men from scabbing, which will be important if we are to go on the offensive in the winter.

There was also agreement that there is a big danger of the new talks between MacGregor and Scargill leading to a sell out, and further demoralisation if they break down,which seems inevitable because the NUM has nothing to bargain with. We haven’t got the bastards by the balls, nowhere near it.

The importance of us selling Socialist Worker was stressed again because that is how pickets can be kept informed of exactly what is happening in the strike. We must always try to sell the paper on picket lines, inminers welfares and strike centrex because it’s vital we are identified with the paper. That’s how we get our ideas across and we can have important arguments at the same time. At Westoe, Gary, Ian, John, Keith and myself have built a good reputation as active militanys and we need to continue being identified with the SWP and put forward constructive suggestions at union meetings. The first one is to get a list of addresses and use all the men banned from picketing to go out and visit men who are not active and try to persuade them to join us.

When I got home I had a phonecall asking me to meet the journalist at the bus stop near our house and I set off in the dark, expecting to meet some hippie type with long hair and flares because I used to read the NME regularly up until a few years ago and that’s how I imagined he would look. I was shocked when a tall skinhead with a red Harrington jacket, jeans and red boxing boots loomed out of the darkness. He introduced himself as Chris Moore and we walked back to my house. I was relieved to hear he’s an SWP member and not in the National Front, as I’d always irrationally thought about skinheads.

We sat up talking about the strike and about music. He’s in a band himself called ‘The Redskins’, whom I’ve never heard of, but he’s brought me a record and a tape of their stuff which I’ll listen to tomorrow.

87. Wednesday September 5th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2009 at 5:07 pm

I’m actually writing this diary on Saturday September 8th after having spent the last 3 days in Durham prison.

The day began at 7am when I left the Armstrong Hall in Neil Tate’s car to go picketing at Wearmouth as usual. I told the lads I was with that we shouldn’t just stand around being passive but needed to take some positive action.They all agreed.

We arrived at Wearmouth at 7.30 and joined the fifty or so men already in the car park. I had a chat with Dave Hopper, the Lodge Secretary of Wearmouth, and asked him why the fence hadn’t been removed because it was a real hindrance to us having a proper push against the pigs. Dave agreed with me but said there was nothing he could do because the pigs were at the pit 24 hours a day. He also told me that Sunderland Magistrates were taking a really hard line with arrested pickets. Two of his lads had been remanded in custody to Durham prison. I know one of them really well, Alan Margham, and I asked Dave to pass him my regards when he saw him. Little did I know that I would see him before he did!

By 7.45 there were at least 250 of us in the car park facing a line of about 200 pigs directly in front of the main pit entrance, only seperated by the bloody metal fence. a group of us began moving around the pickets because we were really pissed off with the passivity. After having had men lifted on a daily basis the hard core activists were also being reduced, and the picket had become really stale. We couldn’t allow it to continue because a passive picket would just encourage more scabbing. We started telling the lads we were going out onto the road on our right to form a push and asked everyone to join us. Accordingly about twenty of us moved onto the road and began shouting for everyone to join us. We soon had about a hundred men but the majority refused to move, even when we yelled at them and called them ‘plastic pickets’ and worse. I have a very big gob and my throat hurt with the effort of shouting but it did no good.

The scab bus was due so we formed up into a solid mass and started to move towards the pigs, who had rushed  to form a reinforced line in front of us. We chanted our battle cry of, ‘Zulu,Zulu,Zulu’ and then crashed into the pigs. Initially we made progress, forcing the pigs back a little until more reinforcements joined their lines. We could have broken through easily if the ‘plastics’ watching from the sidelines had joined us. As it was the push was broken by a group of pigs attacking us from the side and splitting off the front two lines from the rest of the lads. I was roughly grabbed around the throat by a pig and struggled to fight back and keep my feet. The bastard was choking me and he dragged me through the police lines. He threw me to the ground, and as I struggled to get my breath he leapt on me with his knee across my chest. I could see he was an inspector by his flat hat and he said”Got you at last, you big mouthed bastard. That’s your picketing days over’.I wondered if I’d been singled out as I was roughly  dragged backwards and thrown into the back of a police van. Within minutes the van was full, with 8 pickets and six pigs and we were driven the short distance over the bridge to the same police station we had stoned the week before.

Inside Monkwearmouth police station, which was so small it didn’t have any cells, with my ‘arresting officer’, a young PC, we were told to stand against the wall to have our photograph taken by an obese sergeant(is there any other kind?) with a polaroid camera. He told me the photo was for ‘official’ records,ie the photo albums they used to identify activists. The sergeant pressed the button and all four flash cubes went off and unexposed film shot out the front. I laughed out loud and so did the young PC but the segeant wasn’t amused. Cursing, he fitted new flashes and loaded new film. We composed ourselves, with me trying to look defiant and the PC smiling broadly. The same thing happened, flashes and film spewing out the front. I was laughing madly when an angry inspector burst into the room and demanded to know what the hell was going on! The fat sergeant said he couldn’t understand it because it had never happened before. He tried one more time with exactly the same results. The inspector grabbed the camera and threw it in a bin and ordered the sergeant to go and get a replacement.

Finally I was photographed and then taken into another room where the angry inspector was waiting impatiently. He said to the young PC,’What kind of abusive language did this scum use?’ The young lad was either very naive, very stupid, or a mixture of the two because he replied,’Sorry sir, but I didn’t actually hear him saying anything’. I thought the Inspector was going to explode. He yelled for the fat sergeant to take me away. As I was being taken out I heard the Inspector say,’Now what did you hear the bastard say?’ No doubt that cleared the young lads memory.

I was taken outside and locked into a tiny cell on one of them pig buses you usually see parked at football grounds. An uncomfortable hour later there were 12 of us in the cells and we were driven to Gill Bridge police station in Sunderland and locked into two cells, six to a cell. I was with three Westoe lads, one of whom had only been doing picket duty for a fortnight! I grew up in the same street, Chaucer Avenue, as one of the lads,Davy Larsen, and we spent the time chatting about our experiences over the past six months.

During the morning we were taken out to be photographed, again, fingerprinted and questioned, and finally charged. I was charged with,’Foul,insulting and abusive behaviour liable to cause a breach of the peace’. The officer charging me asked if I had any outstanding charges against me and he grinned when I told him about Bilston Glen last month.

We were allowed to see a solicitor provided by the NUM and he told me we would probably be bailed and banned from going within two miles of Wearmouth, which is what I was expecting.

We had dinner of soya pie, potato and turnip which was bloody horrible but I ate it anyway. We were then let out of the cells and told to wait at the foot of the stairs that led up into the courtroom. We whispered amongst ourselves. I recognised one of the lads, Bob Robson, who had been one of the most voiciferous supporters of of going to jail in Bishop Auckland but had bottled out and phoned the TV instead. He got me worried when he told me the solicitor who had seen him had warned him he might be refused bail and be remanded in custody because of his previous arrest. This had happened to men who appeared before the bench previously. It wasn’t looking good. I was feeling a bit pissed off because he had seen a woman solicitor, as had most of the other lads, with only a few of us seeing the man. I suspected he must be a trainee or something because he told me I would probably be bailed.

It was 3pm when the first six lads were led up into the courtroom, and when they came back they told us they’d been bailed and weren’t to go within 2 miles of Wearmouth, as they’d expected. We were called up and I was a bit  surprised when the magistrate called the first four lads to the bench and left Bob and me to one side. The four lads were all released on the same bail conditions as the other six.

We were ordered to face the magistrate and he glared at us as if we were two lumps of shit. Bob was dealt with first, and despite the pleas of the female solicitor, was remanded in custody to Durham Prison until September 14th. Bob was led down looking totally shocked. I faced the magistrate and received the same sentence, with the magistrate saying I was being remanded because of my disgraceful past record and that he believed I would ignore any bail conditions imposed upon me. He also said something about me being a danger to public order but I was too gobsmacked to take it all in. What evidence did the bastard have that I would ignore bail conditions? He ordered me to be taken down and the guy who led me away said the time would soon pass. Easy for him to say. He wasn’t on his way to Durham Prison!

After being held in a cell for half an hour we were taken up to a yard and handcuffed together before being put into a van. It was an uncomfortable journey, made worse by the gobshite sergeant who accompanied us. He was one of those ‘ some of my best friends are miners’ types and was constantly trying to be friendly. I ignored the bastard but Bob chatted happily with him. The pig was condemning Scargill and picket line violence, and Bob was agreeing with him! I couldn’t believe it and wondered why he’d been on the picket line in the first place. Bob said he couldn’t wait to get back to work and that it would happen soon because there was no way we could defeat Thatcher. It made an already depressing journey worse and I worried about what Kath would say when she found out, and how Jen and Sasha would react. I was also angry that none of our lodge officials had been in court so how would Kath find out? I hoped Keith or Gary would call round to tell her. I felt as if I was about to start a life sentence instead of a few days on remand and resolved that in future I would content myself with being an ‘indian’ and leave being a ‘chief’ to others.

Once inside the prison gates the handcuffs were taken off and we were taken into the Search Tank, which is a room beside the main gate where incoming prisoners are taken to be searched. They searched everywhere, even the soles of my feet, and it was a humiliating experience. After the usual jokes about my surname we were taken into the reception area, and after another lengthy wait we were taken into another room full of men waiting to be admitted into the prison. One of these men was a long term prisoner waiting to be transferred to a prison in Scotland. He told me he’s been in Wakefiels Prison for seven years and this was the first time in all those years he’d been outside. He told me he was doing life for murder yet despite this I felt sorry for him. The other men were burglars and con men who passed the time by bragging about all the crimes they’d gotten away with before being caught for something trivial. When they heard what Bob and me were in for they were very sympathetic and gave us loads of advice on what to expect and what we could get away with. Bob said he’d done some time as a younger man and started talking and telling tales of his exploits as a criminal, trying to be the equal of the other men, daft bastard. He’s a bit of a know all is Bob. Anyway, I was glad for the advice and felt a bit easier in my mind.

We were examined by the prison doctor before being forced to have a bath in cold water full of disinfectant. The towel I dried on was like sandpaper! We were then issued with our uniform; one pair of underpants, one vest,a pair of socks with holes in the heels, a blue striped shirt, a pair of brown trousers that were too big, and a brown jacket stamped with ‘HMP Durham’ in case anyone tried to steal it. The whole outfit was completed by a pair of battered black slip on shoes, with mine having holes gouged in the heels, making it uncomfortable to walk, not that I expected to be doing a lot of that!

Washed, dressed and given a number, all we had to look forward to was prison food. I was bloody starving but when I saw what was on offer I almost lost my appetite. I was handed a plate with a blob of mashed potato, shrivelled up peas and a solitary hot dog sausage. A plastic mug of unsweetened tea was provided, presumably to wash away the horrible taste of the food which I gulped down with a minimum of chewing in the hope that my taste buds wouldn’t be irreparably damaged.

After our meal we had another long wait. I passed the time chatting with a con man who was on a three year sentence, and if he was to be believed, had £30,000 stashed for his release. He entertained me with stories of his many criminal exploits and the time passed quickly. He also gave me some cigarettes, which was great because I’d finished the few I’d been arrested with. I am grateful to the ‘screw’ who gave me the fags because prison rules stated that only sealed packets were to be given to prisoners. He told me he supported the miners, which came as a pleasant surprise because I had expected the screws to be bastards like the pigs are. In fact, all the screws we had contact with were great, with one in particular, being an ex – miner himself, doing all he could to make our stay less uncomfortable.

Bob and I were to be kept together, which came as a relief because I’d heard all the tales of homosexuality in prisons. Not that I’ve anything against homosexuals. I just didn’t want to experience it myself at first hand! At 9pm we were given a sheet, a pillowcase and a blanket. We carried theseinto B Wing because the remand wing was full. We climbed the metal staircase and I thought of the prison in ‘Porridge’. There was thick wire mesh strung beneath the landings to stop men throwing themselves off to escape the food! We were on the second floor, in cell B2 – 30, and it was really depressing when we went in and the door was locked behind us.

Our cell was bloody horrible. It was filthy, with fag ends on the cracked concrete floor. The arch window had thick glass panes that were filthy, and six of them were missing, causing a chill breeze to waft around the cell and circulate the stink from the plastic bucket full of piss and shit that stood in the middle of the floor. The decor was post – holocaust,damp grey walls and cobwebbed ceiling. We each had a metal frame bed with a thin ‘white’ matress that was full of stains, and mine was decorated with a schoolboy – ish drawing of a naked woman. We also had a blue plastic mug each, an orange plastic washing bowl and jug, and a plastic razor with no blade. Two wooden tables completed the furniture, all crammed into a cell no more than six foot wide and twelve long.

The screw, who Bob kept calling ‘Boss’, told us to make a final trip to the bog. The first thing I saw on entering was a contorted face behind a half door, complete with sound effects as he strained to shit. He put me right off and I was determined to hold my bowels as long as I could.

Back in the cell Bob was the first to spot two books and immediately grabbed the cowboy story. I was relieved until I saw the other book was a biography of Martin Luther. I skimmed it and quickly decided it wasn’t for me. I would happily have swapped it for the cowboy book.

At 10pm the light went out and we settled down to sleep. I was knackered but it took me a long time to drop off. I worried about Kath and the girls, and for me that is the worst thing about being locked up,not being able to communicate with your loved ones, and not knowing what is happening to them.