Tag Archives: history

Singing history pdf’s by Sing London and EFDSS

Some good stuff in these PDF’s by Sing London

https://www.efdss.org/efdss-education/resource-bank/resources-and-teaching-tools/singing-histories

Just currently looking at the ‘Petition of the Pigs in Kent’ ballad from the Kent book… https://media.efdss.org/resourcebank/docs/EFDSS_Education_RecentProjects_SingingHistoriesKent.pdf

Correspondence from Northumberland

I recently had this correspondence with Alistair who saw the show in Norham, Northumberland last month back. He gave us permission to post our exchanges online which I wanted to do as they made me cry (in a good way).


15 October 2016 21:52

Hi Robin and Naomi,

Good performance. Thank you for coming to Norham. Tweed Valley is a conservative area, and your message is revisionist of establishment posturing, so I wonder if you got a positive reaction? Seems like Marion Shoard is a gatekeeper person: if she was for you, who could be against you! It was an interesting evening for us, in lots of ways. We saw the ad for your show in Berwick High Street, but we live three miles north of Norham, across the border into Scotland at Horndean, the next settlement beyond Ronnie, your guest singer, who lives at the first settlement north of Norham Brig and over the border, at Ladykirk.

Interesting for me. When I worked in agricriculture as a farm worker, I was a NUAAW rep and had training at Southend where I bought ‘The Painful Plough’ way back then. That was 1975.

Interesting for me because I studied at Oxford University Institute of Agricultural Economics 1969-72. In those days, the Common Agricultural Policy was at an early stage, and was seen as a device to 1. Protect the small acreage farmers of France by holding up prices with subsidies and 2. Reducing the European tendency to overproduction with quotas for each commodity and 3. Withdrawing produce from the marketplace into storage when there was overproduction e.g. the grain mountain. In those early days it was seen as adverse to British Interests. I’ve been away from agriculture for years now, apart from a family farm extended family owns, and I haven’t really followed the single farm payment developments closely, so I was really interested in your summary, and in the views of the Welsh farmers you have spent time with, and I do not doubt, knowing the general mindset of the preset Westminster elite, that the direction is to consolidate into larger land units that then become attractive to fund managers and insurance interests, and cease to produce food as their prime concern.

Interesting for me because I am quite close to the Scottish Greens, and have followed Andy Wightman’s work in recent time. Following your exposition, I will look more closely at his site.

Interesting for me because we ramble, and have enjoyed the Right to Roam in Scotland, which as I have understood it permits access onto all PRIVATE open spaces unless and until the landowner requests that you leave the site for a genuine and defensible reason e.g. timid or frightable stock. Your summary of the Right suggested it referred to PUBLIC open spaces, which are surely not 80% of Northumberland? Clarification needed for me here.

In general your narrative was well supported by facts, and was not long on opinions, which made it enjoyable, as one could think, and buy in with one’s own conclusions. Too many facts, too fast, can become a barrage, and the mind closes, hence of course the value of your songs. Anyhow, in general you got it right. At the end, saturated with impressions, we needed a more stark arrival point i.e. the Land Reform groups names and logos appearing on your string line.

Anyhow, I really mustn’t criticise your content, as it was original (in its collected form), and superbly researched and presented. You are both immensely multi-talented, and I will certainly do my best to commend your presentation to contacts wherever you go. What you are doing is most worthwhile – to rightly judge the English and other UK countries, and Eire, in our past internal struggles, and in our past overseas activities, is a proper road to understanding ourselves and our place in the world today. For me you did not put a foot wrong, and my over-riding reflection is your positivism – you were not embittered as many revisionists are, or grinding axes at us, which is the angry face of revolution. You were, I think, true revolutionaries, seeking sound values for yourselves and offering them as tenets of worth to those willing to accept them. That is a most civilised and companionable modus vivendi, and I am sure it will win you many friends.

So, I thank you for your cultural contribution of  “Three Acres and a Cow”.

Alistair MacKichan.


 

On Sunday, October 16, 2016 11:07am, Robin wrote:

Hey Alistair,

Thanks so much for your letter – it was a delight to receive. So good to get feedback from someone with a depth of knowledge on the topic.

We got a good reaction from the people we talked too… As it was our third day on the road and I was knackered, I prioritised singing songs with the people who had traveled a long way and missed some of the first half, rather than trying to gather as much feedback as I could have. The messages in our guest book were positive.

Ronnie, Gail and Joan enjoyed the evening hugely and as most of the audience were known to them, I am sure that they will collect more reactions and feedback in the coming weeks.

The show has been performed to conservative audiences in the past, but not in such a rural area. I must confess to being quite nervous about this, but am growing in confidence now due to the feedback from so many people from extremely differing backgrounds over the years. I also know that the Norham area has traditionally elected Liberal MPs, and that land reform has historically always been a cornerstone of Liberal policy.

You will be glad to know that Marion Shoard and I have been in conversation and are about to start exploring making podcasts and radio shows together. She is very happy to hear that people are talking about land again and that more singing is involved this time around! I also encouraged her to get a wikipedia page which she has – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Shoard.

I am so glad to hear that you know of Roy Palmers book ‘The Painful Plough’… His work has been a huge source of information and inspiration over the years, and I was incredibly lucky to have him mentoring me and sending unpublished ballads he’d collected, the last few years of his life. Sadly, he does not have a wikipedia page and I am yet to work out how I can make this happen, as his contribution to English culture has been huge and largely unrecognised outside of certain niche circles.

I have read and heard that the CAP was set up as a behind-the-scenes face-saving way of Germany compensating France for war time damage and was indeed never framed in British interests. It has morphed into quite a different beast since then. I generalise this into supporting farmers as i hope this is a useful summary of what is a hugely complicated topic (as they all are under the microscope!!)

Our statistics on Northumberland rambling %’s is taken from the Ramblers Association factsheet ‘The Right to Roam’ which can be found here – http://www.ramblers.org.uk/~/media/Files/Go%20walking/AccessFactSheet-FS8.pdf – It states in a table on the 2nd page that the amount of publicly accessible open land in Northumberland went from 19% to 85% in 2003 and I trust them on these figures. Please do let me know if you interpret this differently.

Thanks for your thoughts on the pacing and balance of the piece – a conscious effort has been made to keep opinions to a minimum and deliver it in as gentle and fun way as possible, allowing people to make their own conclusions. There are a few topics where I do offer my own opinion sometimes and I am glad you think we get the balance largely right.

The ending – ha… if there was anything resembling an English land reform movement we would indeed be signposting people to it! but there isn’t really yet… we are trying to support one into being under the rubric of ‘Land for What?’ but alas are a long long long way behind Scotland – http://landforwhat.org.uk/.

I usually mention the Landworkers’ Alliance and Ecological Land Coop (and their names are on the line) who are doing ground work to challenge the status quo around land but I was super tired and did not talk about them at the Norham show you saw.

Your last paragraph or two were very nourishing, thank you. At times, it can be a long and lonely road that we’ve been walking and if you’ll forgive me mixing metaphors, words such as yours give wind to our sails.

Best wishes

Robin


Hi again Robin,

Appreciate your full response to my letter, thanks.

What you say about the origins of the CAP does ring true to my understandings. I spent time in Germany in the early seventies, as secretary of the United Kingdom and Ireland Agricultural Students Association, representing UK at the 15th International Agricultural Association of Students at Stuttgart and Kiel, and also in a hosted group of international ambassadors for change allied to a group called MRA, visiting the Ruhr industrial area which had been the scene of much conflict. There was still a vast dammed reservoir of guilt in Germany about the events of the thirties and forties, and it drove much of what they were doing at that time.

Also, I note that my confusion about the Right to Roam in Northumberland is entirely cleared up by your reference to source material.

Like yourself, I have down the years been at first surprised, and then more often scandalised, by revelations about “Great Britain’s” past. We have had an extraordinarily selfish and cruel ruling class, possibly from the Norman Conquest onwards, as your overview suggested.

My own clan were Highlands and Islands folk in the C17th, C18th and C19th centuries, and were forced by a combination of malicious social forces to emigrate to the Southern States (where there is a Clan Reunion for 350 of them each year now) to Canada where one of my great, great grandfathers was born in Nova Scotia (and your description of the ships which took them there was spine chilling), and to South Africa, and to Australia where John MacKichan blew himself up at Lobo whilst clearing land with dynamite. The decision to move to lands of opportunity was driven not by ambition, but by desperation, and the terrible injury inflicted on the aboriginal native peoples as a result is a crime by proxy by those who forced the emigrations.

The sharp thrust of your delivery in Three Acres and a Cow is that there are areas of the world in which the UK establishment, and you were not specific, is still connected to genocidal activity. That was a telling insight about the repetition of learnt behaviour, and it should arouse indignation among our people to think that the worst we have known is now being dealt, perhaps in our name, to others.

Your summary on Ireland named one Englishman viewing the Irish potato famine as “An Act of God”. I have read that there was stored grain available in England, and that it was indeed promised to the desperate Irish, but then deliberately withheld, which corroborates your judgement of genocide of a million Irish who died in those years. There is a loch in Ireland where a wandering, starving band inscribed their heart feelings on a stone – I have visited it and seen it but do not remember detail, except to note that it is most moving. The Gaels are a different race, driven in early centuries AD to the “Celtic Rim”, and in culture and values see themselves as different from the English. That is not a antagonistic difference, but a dignified ontology and identity. You will have felt it in your time in Wales, and for what it is worth, in my own performing days I sang a national celebration in Welsh in Bangor Cathedral, “Ee gumree ganav. uist tervisk dwicht a don” (phonetic spelling now – a distant memory) and I felt the rose and bloom of the Welsh culture then.

For the self-interested English to exploit, and to dishonour, other racial groups than their own seems to have been a terrible and constant theme of history. This inter-necine animosity strays from your main points of Land Rights and food security, but they are strongly linked in our history. One of my clansmen, starving, was imprisoned for the act of stealing one turnip, from the owner of a field he had toiled in all day, in an attempt to feed his family. That harshness was imposed not by the native clan system, but by the annexing of lands after 1745 by a vindictive English oppression. The tales go on.

All power to you, always find the performer’s balance between intensive output and gentle restoration!

Best Regards,
Alistair MacKichan.

‘Hope In The Dark’ by Rebecca Solnit

“Changing the story isn’t enough in itself, but it has often been foundational to real changes. Making an injury visible and public is usually the first step in remedying it, and political change often follows culture, as what was long tolerated is seen to be intolerable, or what was overlooked becomes obvious. Which means that every conflict is in part a battle over the story we tell, or who tells and who is heard.” Rebecca Solnit

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/15/rebecca-solnit-hope-in-the-dark-new-essay-embrace-unknown

I have yet to read this book but have it on authority that it will blow my socks off so I thought I might take the step of telling you all about it asap as my backlog of books is somewhat chronic as of late!

hope in the dark

 

Three Acres And A Cow – RARA school – Hackney, London – 07/05/16

facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/1608057109521344/
tickets – http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13797

6pm – food by donation
7pm – show startsRARA low res web

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Saturday, May 7, 2016
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
Unit 2, Grosvenor Way,
Mount Pleasant Hill Industrial Estate
Hackney, London, UK E5 9ND

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Three Acres And A Cow – Nexus Art Cafe – Manchester – 16/04/16

3A&aC Manchester Nexus low res web flyer

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Saturday, April 16, 2016
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
2 Dale Street
Manchester, UK M1 1JW
Other Info
featuring Naomi Wilkins, Tim Ralphs and Robin Grey
Tickets from Nexus Art Cafe or http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13651

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Summer Youth Residency

Toby and Georgie sing a duet

Way back in warm, sunny August, seven young people gathered somewhere in the depths of the East of England; the outskirts of a town called Diss (plenty of puns were made) in a lovely cottage, previously home to the writer Roger Deakin.

Five of us were from the youth organisation Woodcraft Folk, and we were glad to be joined by Molly and Kathleen who we hadn’t met before but quickly made friends with.

We were joined by Robin and Rachel and spent the week reading, singing and learning all about the history of our land and the struggles that have been fought for it. We listened to podcasts, taught each other songs and shared food together between practicing sections of the show ready for a performance.

At the end of the week, we performed a full show of Three Acres and a Cow as a group, complete with poetry, sketches and, of course, singing.

Since the residency, Anna has successfully applied for funding to develop a Quaker version of the show alongside Robin, and I have been involved in various performances of the show in my new role as youth apprentice.

Here is a selection of photos from the week:

– Naomi, apprentice of Three Acres And A Cow

Three Acres And A Cow – Edibles – Huddersfield, West Yorkshire – 15/04/16

3A&aC Huddersfield low res web flyer

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Friday, April 15, 2016
6:30pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
The Cowshed, Paddock Farm, Park Gate Road, Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire
Huddersfield, UK HD7 5XA

Featuring Naomi Wilkins, Tim Ralphs and Robin Grey
tickets from http://www.edibles.org.uk/threeacresandacow

Other Info
with Naomi Wilkins, Tim Ralphs and Robin Grey
Tickets from http://www.edibles.org.uk/threeacresandacow

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People & Planet and USSU presents – Hari\’s Bar – Guilford, Surrey – 08/12/15

What
People & Planet and USSU presents
When
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
7:00pm - All Ages
Where
Hari's Bar (map)
University of Surrey Students' Union
Union House
University Of Surrey
Stag Hill
Guilford, Surrey, UK GU2 7XH
Other Info
Tickets:
£3 - Students - Book Online - threeacresandacow.co.uk/surrey
£8 - Public - On the Door (email ussu.peopleandplanet@surrey.ac.uk to reserve)

https://www.facebook.com/events/890373604345453/

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Tidal and Leeds for Change presents – Holy Trinity Church, Leeds – 04/12/15

We are super excited to be heading North in December for a trio of shows in Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield. For the Leeds show we will be joined by guests Boff Whalley and Brendan Crocker.

Tickets can be perchance purchased via https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3-acres-and-a-cow-tickets-19205227352

3A&aC Leeds low res web flyer

What
Tidal and Leeds for Change presents
When
Friday, December 4, 2015
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
Holy Trinity Church (map)
Boar Lane
Leeds, West Yorkshire , UK LS1 6HW
Other Info
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3-acres-and-a-cow-tickets-19205227352

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Heading north… Christ Church – Sheffield – 05/12/15

We are super excited to be heading North in December for a trio of shows in Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield. For the Sheffield show we will be joined by Sally Goldsmith, Tim Ralphs, Naomi Wilkins and Kate Thomas’s singers.

Tickets can be purchased online via – http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13213

3A&aC Sheffield low res web flyer

What
Christ Church
When
Saturday, December 5, 2015
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
Christ Church (map)
Pitsmoor
Nottingham Street
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK S3 9AQ
Other Info
With guests Tim Ralphs, Kate Thomas and Sally Goldsmith
Arrive at 6pm for a shared meal by donation
Tickets available from New Roots or online via http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13213

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Global Nonviolent Action Database

photo by  Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

photo by Stephen Melkisethian (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I just got sent this link by a friend and whilst I have not had a chance to browse all the English entries, what I have read is useful and inspiring – http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/

Here is a list of 198 different types of nonviolent action – http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/browse_methods …and here is a map – http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/map

Dangerous Ideas – The View Bar – Southampton – 25/03/15

Free tickets can be reserved via http://threeacresandacow.co.uk/southampton

new poster flyer Please let anyone you know in Southampton about the show.

What
Dangerous Ideas
When
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
7:00pm - All Ages
Where
The View Bar (map)
Sports Centre
Thornhill Road
Southampton, UK SO16 7AY

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Fire In The Mountain – foothills of the Cambrian Mountains – nr Aberystwyth, Wales – 30/05/15

We are going to be performing the show at this brilliant festival in Wales this summer.

Do come and get your tickets early – it sold out well in advance last year – http://www.twoforjoy.co.uk/fire-in-the-mountain

FITM2015eflyer

What
Fire In The Mountain
When
Saturday, May 30, 2015
TBC - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
foothills of the Cambrian Mountains (map)
nr Aberystwyth, Wales
Other Info
An amazing festival - you should come. See http://www.fireinthemountain.co.uk/ or http://www.twoforjoy.co.uk/fire-in-the-mountain for more details.

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Origin of the phrase ‘piss poor’ and other historical trivia

A comical and interesting snap shot of some historical facts and trivia…

“They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were ‘Piss Poor’

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low”

See more at http://www.thisblewmymind.com/origin-piss-poor-popular-sayings/

A Ballad History of England by Roy Palmer

rp---bhA Ballad History of England
by Roy Palmer

Roy Palmer has spent much of the last thirty years hunting for ballads and using them to weave together a people’s history of England. He has mastered the art of this in a number of excellent books of which this is a great starting point.

This book is utterly superb and should be bought without hesitation. Each song has a melody and words, along with a page or two giving its historical context.

This Land Is Our Land by Marion Shoard

marionThis Land Is Our Land
by Marion Shoard

The definitive book on land both past and present, although it has sadly not been updated since the 80’s.

It gets a bit heavy going in places but the first third, which is a history from Roman times to the present, is totally gripping and a must read for anyone interesting in land and land rights.

I had to take quite a few breaks whilst reading it as sections of it made me really angry and/or sad.