Showing posts from December, 2010

what to do with that tacky Santa hat now Christmas is nearly over

Come and see me model this headgear at my talk on political clothing on Tuesday 11 January, Enfield, Jubilee Hall, for the North London branch of the Historical Association.

A guide to the new ruins of Great Britain

I'm currently enjoying Owen Hatherley, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (Verso, 2010).

It's a vicious attack on New Labour's PFI projects in 'regenerating' city centres. He terms the new style of PFI architecture 'pseudo-modernism', which takes some of the clean lines of modernism and bastardises them with the overt and ironic 'signs' features of postmodernism. The characteristics of the 'Blairite urbanism' are as follows (p.302):
use of a former brownfield site;lots of wood detailing;rhetoric of sustainability undermined by huge car parks and shopping malls adjacent;water features;brightly coloured rendered concrete;irregular windows;estate agent cliches.There's an interesting chapter on Manchester, investigating how post-punk reflected the reaction to the slum clearances of the 1960s. By contrast, all he sees in the 'regenerated' Manchester is emptiness and falsity. Interesting fact that before all the warehouses were t…

These are the people all tattered and torn, part II

I've been trying to draw out the parallels between current protests and eighteenth and nineteenth-century protests. I discussed it with my third-year students in their final seminar of the year, but there is much more to be said, so I shall start to put it down here, as work in progress.

First of all some links, some old, some new:
Guardian article on the 1795 attack on George III's coach;A Scottish nationalist take on the attack, with references to 1795 and 1817;An early modern comparison with 1641 attack of the apprentices in Parliament SquareReport in the Independent on the initial suggestions of Sir Paul Stephenson concerning policing future demonstrations;BBC News report on Stephenson's suggestions;New Statesman editorial, with references to PeterlooCrucial events and turning points:

Attack on the Prince of Wales:

Leeds Mercury, 1 February 1817, on the attack on the Prince Regent's Coach during the state opening of parliament, 28 January 1817:
'The multitude was …

'These are the people, all tattered and torn'

From William Hone, 'The Political House that Jack Built' (1819), a response to Peterloo.

British Museum Image

Full text from

'These are THE PEOPLE all tatter'd and torn,
Who curse the day wherein they were born,
On account of Taxation too great to be borne,
And pray for relief from night to morn;
Who, in vain, Petition in every form.'

The picture, drawn by George Cruikshank, shows the poor people in despair, and in the background, an echo of his representation of the Manchester Yeomanry hacking down the reformers at Peterloo.

Attack on George III's coach in October 1795 - link to a Guardian article on the event.

Attack on the Prince of Wales:

Leeds Mercury, 1 February 1817, on the attack on the Prince Regent's Coach during the state opening of parliament, 28 January 1817:

 'The multitude was vociferous - and the most outrageous epithets were applied to His Royal Highness as he passed along in the State Carr…

Social History Society statement on Thursday's vote

The Social History Society UK is totally opposed to the current threat posed by the policies of the Coalition Government to the future of our university system, and in particular the arts, humanities and social sciences, within which the discipline of history has an important place. We consider the potential for damage to the education and life-chances of future generations to be an issue of the utmost seriousness.
At a time when OECD countries are investing in higher education as a way out of recession, we question the wisdom of withdrawing government funding from most academic subjects at tertiary level. These proposals will not only burden young and more mature students with a future of debt but also be more expensive to the taxpayer in the long term.
We are committed to working with student organisations, vice-chancellors, other learned societies, parents’ groups and others (whether academic, public or lo…

Concert review of These New Puritans at the Barbican, 23 October 2010

A little late this, one, but I've had to do a concert review for an application form, and so reproduce it here for interest. I will warn you it does venture into Paul Morley-speak, but then he did do the programme notes after all. Nothing to do with history, just good exciting music.

These New Puritans with the Britten Sinfonia and London Children's Choir, Barbican Centre, London, 23 October 2010.
These New Puritans are a four-piece guitar band, but this was no ordinary rock gig. For a start, we saw watermelons being smashed with hammers to a pulp that splattered across the back curtain, no doubt leaving the Barbican with a hefty dry-cleaning bill. Yet even watermelons aside, this was an exceptional performance, one that shows how British alternative rock music can be experimental and genuinely break the boundaries between rock and classical. 
Their current release, 'Hidden', is no ordinary rock album. Singer Jack Barnett scored the album for lower woodwind and brass. He…

Poster issues by the committee of the Trades' Union of Manchester and Salford on Queen Victoria's coronation, 28 June 1838

"...We assure the municipal authorities that we are not wanting in love and loyalty to the Queen, but that dear-bought experience has taught us the folly of such idle pomp and useless parade, and we can no longer as rational and intelligent beings become the dupes of our oppressors, the passive instruments for creating by shows and gewgaws a false notion of our prosperity; for the truth is, the working classes have not wherewithal to spend on glittering paraphernalia, neither have they confidence in the government of the country being willing to better their condition, and remove the embarrassments under which our merchants and manufacturers are now labouring.
We deeply deplore the present state of things, and we regret that our government should have agreed to spend so much money upon a Coronation, while so many of our fellow labourers are out of employment..."
National Archives, HO 40/38, f.692

For an excellent account of the Manchester trades' unions' boycott of t…