Saturday, August 23, 2008

Laban Is At The Seaside ...

Hoping for better weather and a few waves in the land of laver bread. Golf clubs packed for the kids (I keep telling them it's an old man's game), surfboard for foolish overweight fiftysomething papa (they keep telling me it's a young man's game and I think they're right), a hefty historical tome to get through of an evening - what more could one want ? And I'm bringing down a PC for my 81-year old aunt, who's just getting broadband !

Blogging will therefore be even lighter than recently.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Savile Town - the Way We Were

I found this on what appears to be a family history website, and thought it worth preserving. Savile Town is now "perhaps most famous for its role in the British Muslim community. The area is "some 97-100% Muslim".

From a local Dewsbury paper. I'm not sure what the reference to 'boiler tapping' refers to - ah ! found it. To stop the mills, employees would 'tap' i.e. drain the boilers which powered them. Some fascinating stuff here and in Disraeli's Sybil.

"Every engine was stopped, the plug was driven out of every boiler, every fire was extinguished, every man was turned out. The decree went forth that labour was to cease until the Charter was the law of the land: the mine and the mill, the foundry and the loom-shop were until that consummation to be idle ..."

JULY 29, 1911

On July 25th, 1861, fifty years ago last Tuesday, Mr. and Mrs. Rawson Preston, of Wharfe Street, Savile Town, were made man and wife. Since that time they have travelled many rough roads together, but have been spared to share a calm and peaceful old age, and now can look back upon the past with few regrets. Our representative interviewed the old couple, if such they can be called, on Thursday, and was impressed by the youthfulness they displayed--by Mrs. Preston especially, for she was able to enter into an animated conversation, which was altogether interesting and amusing, without showing the least signs of fatigue.
In answer to the first question as to where they were married, Mrs. Preston proceeded to air what was evidently a long-standing grievance. She and her husband went through a ceremony at the age of 19, at the Dewsbury Parish Church, but the same ceremony sufficed for the marriage of two other couples at the same time, and this did not seem to her to be quite in order. Asked the name of the clergyman who officiated, Mrs. Preston made reply, "Oh, we didn't bother about ministers; we were satisfied with each other. I believe they called him Allbutt, but I'm not sure." Mrs. Preston did not forget to add that she was no lover of the Church of England, and further conversation revealed the fact that experience of early girlhood had created this feeling of bitterness.
A native of Earlsheaton, Mrs. Preston, whose maiden name was Sarah Hirst, attended for a while the Church Sunday School. The vicar's wife, however, to quote Mrs. Preston's own words, used "to put on airs", and would not allow the girls to attend church with either flowers or feathers in their hats; in fact, if she noticed any such form of feminine adornment she would promptly remove it. They were expected to curtsey to the lady as she passed them in the street, and this Mrs. Preston refused to do. She left the Church school, and afterwards attended Ebenezer up to the time of her marriage.


It did not take long for one to discover that Mrs. Preston was a woman with plenty of determination and grit which has doubtless stood her in good steed, during the course of many trying years. When it is stated that Mr. and Mrs. Preston have had fourteen children, eleven of whom are living (six daughters and five sons), it will be gathered that life for them has not been a bed of roses: though they have now the satisfaction of knowing that the members of their family have all done well and are blessed, like their parents, with the best of health.
Mrs. Preston was born with her father's blood in her veins. He was Mr. Joseph Hirst, a land-loom weaver and an old Chartist, who when "boiler tapping" operations were in progress, had to be hidden away for a fortnight. Mr. Hirst lived until he was close upon eighty. He was a Radical of the sternest type, and his views are as zealously advocated by his daughter, who has been Mr. Preston's helpmate for the past fifty years. Mrs. Preston informed our representative that she was still an ardent reader of "Reynolds" and added that she would like to see a few more in the Cabinet, "like Lloyd George". "Asquith", she said, "was all right", but she wished he had a little more of Lloyd George about him. Yet, at the same time, she does not hold any brief for the Suffragette.
Mr. Preston was born at Staincliffe, and for nearly twenty years worked at Eastfield Mills, Dewsbury, as a weaver and tenter. For the past forty years he has been in the greengrocery business, which, our representative gathered, was started originally through Mrs. Preston's initiative at a time when there were may mouths to fill, and the means to finding the wherewithal considerably limited.


"We started," Mrs. Preston explained, "with the proverbial sixpence. I sent my eldest lad, who was then between six and seven years of age, to buy sixpennyworth of oranges, and these he afterwards disposed of at a profit, and by the end of the day returned home with a basket of oranges and some coppers to spare." Owing to Mr. Preston's employment being uncertain, all manner of means had to be adopted to obtain food. Mrs. Preston baked cakes for her lads to hawk, along with the oranges, and gradually the business developed, and is still carried on by the old couple.
All Mr. and Mrs. Preston's children are married, and three sons and one daughter are now well settled in Canada. Six years ago, Mrs. Preston paid a visit to Canada, and explained her reason for going there in the following words: "My husband said it was a wilderness where no one could live. I wanted to know whether my lads could live there, so I went to see, and found it a grand place."
Mrs. Preston remained six weeks, and returned home to fetch her husband, but he was not to be persuaded to leave the old country. His good wife is still anxious that they should settle there, and a few months back had arranged to "sell up", but when it came to a question of having to part with their old horse Robin - described by Mrs. Preston as a "Lloyd George" --having been bought from a Welsh drover at Lee Fair, their hearts failed them, and, consequently, they are still at Savile Town.


After carrying on business in Savile Town for some years, Mr. and Mrs. Preston took a farm at Kirkheaton, and later occupied Waste Farm, Hopton, but had to leave there when their sons left for Canada. They then resided in Ravensthorpe for several years, but were ordered away from there two years ago when Mr. Preston had a slight seizure. Both are exceedingly proud of the fact that they have reared a healthy brood, without the aid of doctors, and especially are they proud to know that all their children are teetotalers. Mr. and Mrs. Preston both signed the pledge some thirty years ago, and are regular attenders at the Dewsbury Temperance Hall, where the golden wedding celebrations are to take place today (Saturday). They have never had a doctor to see either of them--except when Mr. Preston was taken ill at Ravensthorpe--"They have all been butchers' and bakers' bills at our house," Mrs. Preston facetiously remarked. The magnitude of these bills may be gauged from the fact that when flour was 16lb. to the stone, Mrs. Preston had to bake four stones of flour every week, at 3s. a stone, and they could have done with more if funds would have allowed.
Asked for the total number of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Mrs. Preston replied that they were "sixty all told" up to last September, when a grandson was drowned in Canada, and a granddaughter had also died, leaving two children.
Mr. and Mrs, Preston's eldest son is a tuner, working at Glen Williams, near Toronto, for a concern of which the late Mayor of Batley (Alderman Stubley) was president. Another son has a homestead about a hundred miles from Winnipeg, and one holds a good position on the railway. Other members of the family reside locally.
Asked whether any of their offspring who have settled across the water would be present at Saturday's celebrations, Mrs. Preston humourously replied, "We have sent word to them to engage a flying machine for the day."

Stockholm Syndrome - St Austell

A couple who came "under siege" from youths who vandalised their property and held rowdy parties on their land have solved the problem by building a £500,000 golf course to give them something to do. Retired hoteliers Andrew and Mary Flint have endured more than 20 years of anti-social behaviour from bored teenagers who trespassed on their 11-acre estate. They were subjected to verbal abuse when the gangs gathered on their land and around a farm near their home, drinking, stealing and damaging property. So, when the farm came up for sale, the Flints decided to buy it and turn the 20 acres of land into a nine-hole pitch and putt golf course. Mr Flint, 65, and his 76-year-old wife say the course acts as a barrier to keep troublemakers away, and gives local children something do.

More than 20 years. You get far less for murder. I'm amazed they look in such good nick. I'd either have died myself or killed someone. They must be saints.

And what of the local police ? What were they doing over 20-odd years ? I know that if they arrested the courts might not convict - and if they did, they'd only get told by a magistrate not to be naughty. You have to try very hard to get a meaningful punishment. If only the couple hadn't been white !

But all the same ...

Police in St Austell have welcomed the course and said it will help reduce anti-social problems. A spokesman said: "The area of Boscundle has suffered problems with groups of youths gathering in certain areas. There is little in the way of resources and public transport and any new youth-based activities will help. In a rural area such as this one of the issues we have is teenagers who have a lack of proper facilities. A golf course like this is a very welcome amenity and will undoubtedly help reduce crime."

The triumph of the sociologists is almost complete. Crime is caused by a lack of 'something to do'. Now I know that the Devil finds work for idle hands - but that's an argument against idleness, not for the provision of entertainment.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Acquit Syed Zaidi !

The mills of UK law sure do grind slowly. I blogged last year on the UK's Ashura processions and the associated flagellation with knives, or zanjeer. One of Eduardo Martino's photographs was of a young boy, head streaming with blood after cutting himself to show religious devotion. In January Syed Mustafa Zaidi was charged with "child cruelty" - I wonder exactly what the charge is ? - and now he's in court.

Participants at the men-only event take it in turns, in small groups, to flog themselves, while the crowd around them chant the name of Husayn, a central figure in the Shia faith whose death they are commemorating. The film played to the court also showed the 13-year-old boy, who Zaidi is accused of forcing, flogging himself with the zanjeer zani.

Prosecutors said the 15-year-old boy, who is not seen in the film but was allegedly forced to take part in the ceremony, suffered multiple lacerations to his back and shoulders, including a wound measuring up to a centimetre long. Andrew Nuttall, prosecutor, said Mr Zaidi also harmed himself in the film. "This devout man used considerable force upon himself, clearly causing injuries, and causing others present to fear for his safety to such an extent that they started to intervene and calm him down," he said.

Mr Nuttall said Mr Zaidi then went on to encourage the 15-year-old boy to flog himself and gave him "no choice" about participating in the ceremony. He said Mr Zaidi took the arm of the 13-year-old boy, took off his T-shirt so he was bare-chested and put the zanjeer zani in his hand and told him to flog himself.

The court heard how Mr Zaidi had attended a meeting at the community centre two days before the ceremony, where it was made plain that children under the age of 16 should not participate. Mr Zaidi denies forcing the boys to participate and claims they had requested to take part.

Mr Nuttall said: "The prosecution say the defendant ignored the advice given to him that this practice was not allowed for children under 16 years of age." He said Zaidi forced the boys to participate in a ceremony "clearly designed to cause self harm". Mr Nuttall added: "This was not only against their own will but in any event is not allowed by law."
I'll just say this again. While I disapprove of cutting yourself or anyone else with knives, unless there is evidence that these children were forced into what they did - which the prosecution alleges but seems to have no proof for - the law should get its fat nose out of it. There is an enormous difference between encouraging and forcing someone. The advice about under-16s was exactly that - advice - and as such is irrelevant.

(However there's one possibility - that the children were Mr Zaidi's sons - which wouldn't be reported, and in which case there is a greater chance that encouragement could have the force of an order. Nonetheless I can't see putting Dad up in court serves any useful purpose. A quiet word from an officer, with the backing of the local religious leader, should really be enough.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

NWOBJ - Junior Section

If the New Wave of British Jihad (© Laban Tall 2007) has an epicentre, it must surely be Dewsbury, although Brum might run it close.

A West Yorkshire schoolboy who possessed a guide to making napalm on his computer and notes on martyrdom under his bed today became Britain's youngest convicted terrorist. Hammaad Munshi, whose grandfather is a leading Islamic scholar, was 16 and taking his GCSEs when he was arrested.

Munshi, now 18, was convicted of making a record of information likely to be useful in terrorism following a three-month trial at Blackfriars crown court in London. He was cleared of one possession offence. The judge, Timothy Pontius, remanded Munshi in custody until sentencing at the Old Bailey on September 19 when, Pontius warned, it was "inevitable" that he would be jailed. The Crown Prosecution Service said Munshi, of Greenwood Street, Saville Town, Dewsbury, was the youngest person to be convicted under the Terrorism Act.

Hmm. Evidently Saville Town. But ... what happened to this chap, in court last year ? or is it the same person, and if so, what's happened to the saltpetre under the bed ?

A British teenager who is accused of plotting to blow up members of the British National Party appeared in court today. The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London to face two charges under the Terrorism Act 2000.

It is alleged that he had in his possession a copy of the "Anarchists' Cookbook", containing instructions about how to make home-made explosives. The charges are that he was in possession of material for terrorist purposes in October last year and that he collected or had information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism. The teenager, who is a British national but has dual nationality with Pakistan, stood in the dock wearing a baggy, blue hooded top. He said nothing other than to confirm his name and date of birth, before prosecuting counsel Piers Arnold outlined the evidence before Judge Daphne Wickham. He was arrested at an address in the Dewsbury area of West Yorkshire on Monday and taken to London this morning.
Judge Wickham ruled that the offences were not within the remit of the magistrates court and set a date for a committal hearing on October 25th.
There were two arrests - the second one being a young man from Ravensthorpe, who according to reports at the time had chemicals under his bed.

The story hit the papers last year then vanished - no reports on any convictions.

The age is right. I may be wrong, but I reckon Mr Munshi is the same guy. How many more teenagers in Dewsbury have been charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 ? I'd like to hope it was only one more, but if anyone knows different please tell me.

The bit about wanting to kill BNP members also vanished from the stories - the BBC replaced it within a few hours and the police actually rang the BNP to deny the story. Shades of the disappearing rocket launchers in the Robert Cottage trial.

The press stories were pretty confusing anyway - the original BBC story had two boys from Dewsbury, one of whom wanted to blow up BNP members, the Dewsbury Reporter had two boys, one thought to be, and the other definitely, from Ravensthorpe, same for the Yorkshire Post with the information that the material was saltpetre.

Hmm. While Savile Town isn't far from Ravensthorpe, you couldn't mix them up. But if Mr Munshi (I think the name is Hindi for a clerk or scribe), "Britain's youngest terrorist", isn't our man, what happened to the two Ravensthorpe Ravers ?

"The Notorious Johnson Family"

I mentioned Gloucestershire's most well-known band of vagabonds and villains in this post a few years back. Now they've gone down for 49 years. Between five of them. Another judge - Christopher Critchlow - with a good line in ironic humour.

Judge Christopher Critchlow, sentencing the gang for the country house raids, told them the way they had mocked police was "indicative of your attitude to the law".

He said: "Cases of this gravity must attract heavy sentences because of the deliberate criminality, organisation and sophistication of their planning and the effect on the occupants. This must be one of the most serious examples of conspiracy to burgle ever to come before the court, considering the amounts involved. Little of the property has been recovered and is no doubt well hidden in the countryside or passed on for disposal. You have no respect for people's property or the law so I have no alternative but to impose severe sentences."
Four or five years (remember to cut the sentence in half) for £60m robberies ? His Honour is having a laugh. For ten million quid I'd do five years in Dartmoor.

I see they've left Glarcestershire for Cleeve Prior on the Worcestershire-Warwickshire borders, somewhere twixt Evesham and Bidford-on-Avon. Should feel at home there. A few years back Cleeve Prior was home to a gang of those helpful chaps who knock on old ladies' doors to tell them about the loose slates that they can fix for them - a story that ends with old ladies being driven to the cashpoint on multiple ocasions to have their building society accounts emptied as the work that needs doing mysteriously escalates. When they were nailed one of the lads had over £400,000 in a building society, which had dwindled to about 100K by the time the courts got their hands on it. When I open a bank account I need a letter from a bishop and my firstborn as security. How come all the money-laundering regulations seem to bypass these people ? Are they scared of being accused of discrimination if they raise an eyebrow at cash-only caravan dwellers ?

THE Johnson’s (Ricky, Albi and Richard) who sound like an American pop group but were actually a travelling band of gipsy thieves, liked to look on themselves as some kind of 21st century Robin Hoods robbing from the rich. Except they never gave to the poor. Not unless it was to themselves anyway.

From their base on a travellers’ permanent site in south Worcestershire, they travelled all across southern England stealing from the homes of the rich and famous. “I feel I have the right to rob the lords, sirs and the ladies,” family patriarch Ricky Johnson once told the TV cameras. “I have to feed my children and if no one is helping me achieve my goal I feel I have that right.”

How much the Johnsons actually made from the proceeds of their raids, estimated in a court this week to be a staggering £80 million, is open to question. As one visitor to their home on the park at Cleeve Prior, near Evesham, said: “It’s not as though they live rich. There’s no sign of a Bentley round the back.”

That certainly figures. According to my extensive contacts in the Gloucestershire criminal underworld, artworks from Paddy McNally's manor, the frames hastily repainted, were being sold by one of the matriarchs at knock-down prices at the Cheltenham Racecourse car-boot within months of the raid.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No School Discipline Problems


Georgia - the Blogroll of Shame

When the trouble in South Ossetia broke out, a title for a blog post floated into my mind - for about a femtosecond, before I dismissed it as hopelessly unoriginal, cliched, and above all irrelevant.

Other bloggers weren't so fussy.

There are literally thousands of bloggers who decided that "Georgia On My Mind" was a really cool post title (for those who wonder why, it's an old Ray Charles song in which he sees "in peaceful dreams" the road back to the Land of Peaches. Not terribly apposite for the Caucasian unpleasantness).

So I'll just give a dishonourable shout to those you can find on UK Poliblogs.

Shuffle forward, with eyes on the floor :


Paul Anderson

The Englishman ! I am truly shocked ...


There is another famous - and much more relevant - song about Georgia - a song of war between two states which had been one, of avenging columns leaving smoke and flames to mark their track, the deliberate destruction of infrastructure as they went - but no UK blogger used "Marching Through Georgia".

At least anti-American Brit lefty blogger Devizes Melting Pot (sic) linked to this post by anti-American American lefty Chris Floyd. And a fair few US bloggers used it.

Stop ! I found one Brit blog using it - the hitherto unknown to me - or to anyone else - New Worker Features - which may or may not be the official blog of the New Communist Party of Britain. Kudos to said blogger, who'e'er s/he be. The NCP is an organisation of which I know nothing, apart from their terrifyingly efficient, Stalinist car-parking franchise. The full story is here. To an old lefty like myself it soundeth highly familiar.

Like the rest of the British communist movement the NCP from the beginning had to deal with what they saw as ultra-leftism and right-wing deviation. All were defeated at Congresses over the years and many were expelled for factionalism.

New Worker Features is currently getting 12 hits a day. Spread the rightish love and drop by.

UPDATE - what's so appealing about NWF ? The classic blogger template !