Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Tolpuddle, Cider and Michael Foot

There has been so much written and said about Michael Foot today that I hesitate to add more, but a couple of things stick in my mind. They are not particularly profound but for what they are worth here they are:

I recall Foot being interviewed late one night. I think it was one of those long drawn out 'by election watch' programmes. Having exhausted every possible topic the interviewer turned to the panel and asked which was their favourite or best politic song. Michael Foot was first in and declared that the Land Song had his vote.

Some long time earlier in the mid seventies a bunch of YL had turned up at the Tolpuddle rally at which Foot was the main speaker. Sadly this was a 'tribal' Labour occasion and they certainly weren't pleased to be sharing it with us! My memory is that Foot's speech was more generous than the crowd had been.

We went to the pub that evening and it being Devon we supped the local cider, powerful stuff that Devon cider and regrettably I have no other memories of the night.

Later still, I guess about 1980 ,Foot published a collection of essays a 'Debts of Honour' First in the collection was 'A Rupert for the Roundheads' a homage to his father. It is brilliant bit of writing commemorating a man who like himself believed that no one should be 'enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity'. He wrote of the hope that his father sought to bring and of his preaching and oratory, of how he would whisper in a little Cornish chapel 'Hope' and how in the utterly still silence that followed he would wait before pressing on

Hope, the paramount duty
that heaven lays
For its own honour, on man's
suffering heart

As so many have said you don't get that sort of oratory nowadays, but we do desperately need decent people who can rekindle hope and have the will to build a better world.

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