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!
Posts Tagged ‘The Redskins.’
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 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.
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.
Well, the strain has finally caught up with Kath and she has suggested that we split up. I didn’t argue because home life has become unbearable and it was starting to affect the girls. We’ve agreed that a seperation will be best for all of us and I’ll leave as soon as I can find somewhere to live. 12 years down the pan! Thank you Thatcher! Perhaps when the strike is finally over we can get back together, though I doubt it because there is no way I am ever going back down the pit again. I’ve been saying it for months, win or lose, and I can’t really see Kath wanting to be with me when I’m unemployed. Que sera sera.
Chris Moore phoned to say the Redskins are playing the Bunker club in Sunderland tomorrow night and has invited me and Kath along. Kath doesn’t want to go so I’ll go on my own. I need something to cheer me up.
Kinnock has refused to attend a series of planned rallies. Just proves where his true loyalties lie, and it aint with us miners!
The Delegate Conference has voted unanimously to continue the strike, which is heartening in the light of concerted efforts by the NCB to bribe men back to work. The bastards are trying hard to get NUM funds but they aren’t finding it easy. Let’s hope it stays that way.
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.