‘Angel’s’ original title ‘Not the Holy Bible!’ was originally intended as musical or a play for the Karl Marx Centenary at Alexandra Palace, London in 1983. You can’t buy it at the supermarket or mall and it is the one and only time that I will put pen to paper.
Although huge changes have taken place in the world since its first edition, structurally it remains the same.
As for myself, born in 1937, I recall my mother and father were very happy. In 1939 war broke out and my brother was born. My father was killed in the war when I was 5. It broke my mother’s heart. She never remarried and never stopped talking about him.
During the blitz, we were moved about from pillar to post dodging the bombs, etc. By the time I was 14 I had attended no less than 13 different schools. My education suffered accordingly. I was passionate about science but my physics and maths were very weak so a career in that direction was blocked.
We had a very happy, uncomplicated and exciting childhood, and I was very ambitious. Like some kids, I wanted to be everything at one stage or another. Acting seemed a way of achieving this. When I was 13 we had settled in South London. Downstairs was occupied by the Pat Ash School of Dance and Drama. I won an audition at the BBC and for the next 20 years worked in radio, TV, films and theatre. My brother Ernie did a bit of acting but was more keen on sport.
When we were Young… in my acting days
“Your Dad would have been so proud of you both” Mum used to say, “He’s looking down from heaven. When you’re naughty it makes him cross but when you’re good it pleases him no end.”
I could never understand why we didn’t kill all the Germans, the damage that they’d done. We’d won the bloody war and look at the people they’d killed, they must all die. I was deeply religious and very patriotic. Winston Churchill was my hero. It was only while working on a film in the early 50s, someone a lot older and wiser than I, took the trouble to patiently explain, over many weeks, the true nature of society and if I really wanted to avenge my father’s death and everybody else’s it would be best to conduct a revolutionary war against capitalism and not fall into the nationalist trap.
The seeds of this idea didn’t germinate until 1968, when the revolutionary May-June events erupted in France and I found myself in the middle of it all. I forgot about acting and became immersed in a very different kind of art. All at once I nailed my colours to the mast where they remain to this day.
Why didn’t the working class take power? They were led by a massive Communist Party. It was only Trotskyism that gave me answers to these questions.
In the early 70’s the miners came out on strike. We had a three day week. Edward Heath called a general election on who rules Britain, and lost. The miners had brought down the Tories. After yet another Labour government the Tories came back with a vengeance. In the mid 80’s there were enormous class battles, both the miners, then the printers at Wapping, fought the Tories to a stand still. The question of power was posed.
The workers were betrayed by the TUC, who refused to bring other workers out in support, which would with a revolutionary leadership at the helm, have brought down the whole rotten edifice.
This setback led to a lot of comrades, who brought me into the revolutionary movement, losing heart. Or to put it more correctly their heads. I lost a lot of friends but in the ever developing situation I gained a lot more.
As the capitalist crisis develops, we hear parliamentarians of varying hues endlessly debating on economic growth and stability. It’s a bit like watching the ship’s crew arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Mum died in 1994. My brother Ernie still lives in South London with a big family. My first wife Helen lives in Montserrat. We have a son George, who was born in 1961. He is married with a daughter and lives in Germany, and I, for the last 30 years, have resided in Muswell Hill and am happily married to Gail. Suffice to say we practice the same art.
My thanks to Angela for the brilliant artwork and to Sasha, our next door neighbour…
In the early editions, the dream weaving storyteller was Zeus. It was Sasha who ruefully pointed out that she thought the poem was a bit sexist… there were no women in it! She was right of course and I was mortified. Women have made an indispensable and enormous contribution to the revolution throughout history. I could not change the structure of the poem but then, in a flash, Aphrodite came to mind and Zeus was discarded.
Wilf, Street and Station Poet
March 2007 (11th Edition)