It’s the Way I Tell ’em

It’s my fault of course. If I write slightly too many words for my Mercury column they just end it at the exact moment the wordcount ends and my hilarious punchline just dissapears. That’s what happens this week. However, as I also reprint my EXACT wording as submitted in this ‘Town Diary’ then people can see exactly what I was getting at. Not that everybody gets my sense of humour. In fact, I’m not sure that I do. But read on below..

This week I went and did a history talk in the depths of the Polden Hills. The topic was Bridgwater’s most radical Radical in ‘radical’ history.  I told them about 10 of our best rebels and then they had a secret vote on it. And guess who won? Yes obviously it was Robert Blake but it did get me thinking that as Edward Carson of the Ulster Unionist Party used to say “It’s the way I tell ‘em!”

Thomas Ingleby (Revolting peasant)

So, I mentioned Thomas Ingleby- Bridgwater’s Watt Tyler from the Peasants Revolt in 1381. Rose up the peasants, stormed the citadels of feudal power, disposed of a few Poll Tax collectors and tore up the feudal bonds that held them in chains. Led an army of Bridgwater radicals to Ilchester where he stormed the gaol and freed the prisoners. But what did he do next? Yep, he heard the rebellion in London wasn’t going well so he said “Right lads, been a change of plan. We’m off home!”

Prog Rock Indie

Vernon Bartlett himself

And I mentioned Vernon Bartlett the Progressive Independent MP elected in 1938 on a platform of fighting fascism. He won! Yay! The Popular Front was on the march! He went to Parliament and there he formed the Commonwealth party with Richard Acland and JB Priestley -a party devoted to taking land property and profits into the common purse and sharing it amongst the poor and needy equally. And then what did he do? Well, he went to live in Tuscany, Italy for 30 years, came back to Bridgwater and joined the SDP.

Keeping the Nazis in Czech

Then there was Fred Phillips, a brilliant political organiser, a man who had operated clandestinely across Europe in the 1930s as a runner for the anti nazi resistance movements.

Alfred Rosenbaum

A Czech by origin but chased from state to state as fascism snuffed out liberty across Europe. In and out of Concentration camps and finally escaping to Bridgwater where he organised the Bridgwater Labour Party from top to bottom in the 1950’s and took control. And although this brilliant man has now died he wrote a book about his exploits. I got hold of the rough notes. But. He also had an obsession with train timetables and what could have been an epic political adventure novel might as well have been called “How to overthrow fascism by taking the 17.45 sleeper train from Krakow changing at Vienna main station at 05.17 then catching the 06.23 regional express to Olomouc via Hodonin, Prerov and arriving at Brno Hlavni Nadrazi” at approximately 1132.”

It’s the way I tell ‘em.

(You can read an even fuller account here)

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