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Reading...

Today I went out and finally bought E.P. Thompson's classic social history text, The Making of the English Working Class. The Times front cover quote described Thompson as 'A magnificent, lucid, angry historian...' Magnificent is the da-da! Lucidity is essential when writing almost anything that will be worth reading. Historian is simply a matter of fact. But anger is the ticket when it comes to social history. And social present, actually. I should have read it ages ago, and almost feel as though I have because of the many millions of times when Thompson and his work - as well as his wife's Dorothy, a Chartist historian, has clearly formed the basis of another work or in referring to a quote from it. Maybe I was finally moved to buy it (not cheap at £24 for the paperback!) because earlier on in the day I bought, for the first time in ages, a copy of Socialist Worker from a fit man in Kings Cross. I can only imagine that the editor of Socialist Worker is rubbing his hands in glee at having so much material suddenly regurgigated from the seventies and eighties now living itself large in his/her own 'interesting times'! The stock-in-trade of home-grown industrial strikes and the whispers of summer riots. Surely the new Brecht is only around the corner too. I wrote a few letters to Socialist Worker a few years ago, when I felt energised by channeling my frustrations, instead of depleted, which I often feel at the moment. I remember my sister showing my Dad, in Manchester, the letter I had written and him reading it with a mixture of awe and fear. Awe because it was only what he had only usually dared voice in the Irish pubs after a few rum and peps and Guinness, and fear because it was only what he usually dared voice in the Irish pubs after a few rum and peps and Guinness! And then only said, 'they'll be watching her now', meaning that once you've put your name to any sort of opinion in the public domain that you had willingly marked yourself as a 'trouble maker' - more a product of his own cliche of an Irish catholic upbringing which instilled only self-hatred, self-doubt, anything that was non-self! All in a bid to appease the problematic 'they' and 'them'. Revolution first has to be an inside job, she says, hopefully.

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