More New Pages

As part of an ongoing review of this blog site and how it works, I have added two new pages and deleted one. The one that has gone, sadly, is Archives in Fiction: I have not added much to it and the idea has past its value now. In its place there are two pages to feature projects on which I am working and which, each in their different ways, illustrate how I use my concept of Radical Family History in practice. The first relates to the history of the Barnsley Cordwainers Society, the oldest surviving local Friendly Society in England, founded in March 1647/8, to which several people who shared my surname in the past once belonged and of which I am a somewhat geographically challenged member. The second relates to a project, once titled ‘Diverse Evill Disposed Persons’ (under which it featured in Public History Review Journal 18, 2011), centring on events in the ‘country’ around Cannon Hall in 1674, though covering the period from the Restoration and earlier. It illustrates a clash of cultures, classes and individuals during a period of social flux, and is, in some sense, a micro-history of what this entailed at the grass roots level of society. Both of these projects have featured on separate sites, now defunct, but the work still stands. Content will follow in due course.

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Creating History

I am drawn to the view, by whomsoever expressed, that we make our own history, we are not victims of it, even when it appears so. This includes Karl Marx, who suggested that we do not make history in conditions of our own choosing. It therefore includes also Raya Dunayevskaya, in her rescue of humanism from the ravages of post-Marx Marxists. It also includes Cornelius Castoriadis and his view of History as Creation and The Imaginary Institution of Society, from a post-Marxist viewpoint. There are others with whose work I am not familiar enough to cite them.

You will note that this also relates to writers who were writing about political action and creativity, so that my view of history and my view of political action have tended to coincide. The one feeds into the other and has done for me for over 50 years. If I have a generally libertarian view of politics, it is matched by a libertarian view of history, while in both cases aware of the collective nature of human society (I am not an individualist). As human beings we are essentially creative, even when it looks different. This infuses my concept of ‘history from below’, which goes beyond the idea of studying history as if from the lower ranks of society, though it includes that. It comes out in my concept of radical family history, both as a way of understanding the world and as a practice for historians.

I am prompted to these thoughts having just read The Future of History, by John Lukacs, (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2011). It is not that he directly addresses the issues in which I am interested, but the honest appreciation he makes of the limits of history, the limits of the surviving record, while pleading for all historians to fight for the profession (which includes so-called amateurs like myself) and for meaningful standards, including readability. There are elements of what he says with which I might disagree, but that in no ways is a criticism[1]. He is also a self-confessed ‘reactionary’ or ‘conservative’, while I see myself as ‘radical’ – but that makes his views all the more interesting, not least when I find myself often in full agreement. I hope he will not therefore mind if I describe the work as entertaining, by which I mean stimulating and enjoyable in equal measure. It is a work worth returning to and allowing his critique to work on one’s consciousness and inform one’s practice.

As a primarily family historian, I am all too aware of the limitations of the records from which I and my co-conspirators have to work. These become less and less adequate, the further one travels back in time. It is, to say the least, a challenge and not merely from a technical, genealogical point of view. It is an even bigger challenge for me to then suggest that this is a way of testing the theory that we make our own history in the sense described above. Just how does that actually work? How can we, as historians, demonstrate that the theory is more than an unproven hypothesis? When the thinkers I mention above talk about history as creation, what exactly do they have in mind? What kinds of verifiable records are there to prove the hypothesis? Or is it just abstract theorising? Sometimes when you read their work it seems like that, not least because of their selection of relevant illustrative events.

As a professed ‘radical family historian’, however, I am not positing an abstract theory: I am testing it to destruction. What sort of family history can I and others of my ilk write and what will it demonstrate? Some have written excellent histories of their own particular family lines and the reader can see how some of the characters shaped their immediate world, while being equally shaped by it (I have mentioned these in previous posts). The balance from one individual to another might vary considerably – some of us are passive and it is the passivity that helps shape our own history and, to some degree, that of the world around us (think of those who can’t be bothered to vote in elections, for example, or pour scorn on others who do try to bring about social change). I have suggested elsewhere that comparative, parallel family histories might offer insights on social change or specific facets of everyday life. My own aim is to use the history of those who took up and bore the name ‘Bashforth’ over three centuries, how they spread around the world, how their fates differed and can be compared, how they ‘created history’ and in what sense. What I can show (let alone prove) with that approach is as yet an open book, with lots of blank pages. One thing I am sure I will find is that ‘radical family history’ is a concept, not a methodology.

[1] I think he describes social history in terms that are too narrow and, while I concur with his view that some of the subjects that are studied and written about by academics in the field of cultural history may seem bizarre (pp 86-87), his list is rhetorically selective (and therefore unworthy) and fails to appreciate the way in which historians today are concerned with the history of ‘everyday life’.

Family History – Messages of Hope

Sometimes in your family history you can find messages of hope from the past. It is one of the reasons I regard this type of history research as potentially ‘radical’, so long as you are prepared to go beyond collecting dates of baptisms, marriages and burials (though even these records have their contexts). I was reminded of this watching the latest episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ on BBC 1 (25 January 2017: 8pm), which featured Sir Ian McKellen, actor and LGBT activist.

Inevitably, it being one of the features of this series, there is the attempt to find roots of the person’s celebrity in their past and, sure enough there was a great uncle who trod the boards and a grandmother who was a mezzo-soprano soloist. Neither were particularly famous, except at a local level, but – pause for thought – each in a quiet way illustrated how we are agents in history, however small, not simply victims of fate.

The greatest revelation however was the ancestor, Robert Lowes, who was a warehouse clerk in Manchester. He was very definitely one of those neglected heroes of the past who made an enormous difference to the lives of those around him. In the 1840s, at a time when Friedrich Engels was writing his classic The Condition of the Working Classes, Robert Lowes, humble clerk, skilfully organised his fellow workers, clerical and manual, to petition their rich and powerful employers for a half day holiday. Robert himself had used the opportunity provided by the Lyceum to build his skills at public speaking, writing, researching, networking and advocacy in his rare spare time. He wanted more of the same opportunities for his fellow workers. This was not a time when it was easy to organise, though demand for change was on the rise. But Robert’s campaign was successful and what we now know as ‘the weekend’ was born. He went on to campaign for workers in other industries, especially the women garment workers in the sweatshops, and was successful again.

This was an uplifting episode at a time when the process of reform and change started by men and women like Robert in 1845 is being put into reverse on a global scale and a Mussolini impersonator inhabits the White House. It is a reminder that we don’t have to be cowed by history or by patriarchal interpretations of the past and present – we can make history too. It just takes a bit of effort, one step at a time.

There is a less dramatic but just as vital example from my own maternal ancestry. My great uncle Edwin Martin was described to me as a ‘black sheep’, who was irresponsible in his working life, was blacklisted as a union organiser, might have been a communist, died of TB and left his wife and child destitute. I grew up with a sneaking admiration for this rebel and was fortunate enough in later life to be put in touch with his daughter, Margaret. He was a lovely man, a keen exponent of amateur dramatics and opera, a trade unionist, socialist in 1930s London. He looked after nieces who came to London to seek domestic work, making sure they were well placed and not mistreated. Yes, he did die of TB, from untreated milk; he did find work hard to get because of his principles; but he is remembered by his daughter with great affection. I was right to secretly admire him as I grew up.

A Year of Anniversaries

Every year is a year of anniversaries and it is the mainstay of the heritage industry and easy journalism to commemorate them. More importantly, for the family historian it is where personal history and public history often intersect to remind us that we are participants not mere spectators. Examples can run from the distant past to our own modern lives.

150 years ago, on 12-13 December 1866, there was a series of explosions in the underground workings of the Oaks Colliery near Barnsley which took the lives of over 360 men and boys, including rescue workers. None of those involved was a Bashforth, but the events still intersected with our family. Bridget MacDonald (née Drudy), of Irish extraction, was the wife of Patrick (aka Peter) MacDonald and had a young son called John. Patrick and his brother Michael, also Irish, were killed in the explosion, leaving Bridget destitute – among many other widows from the disaster. How she managed in the years afterwards, who knows, but in 1869 she married my three-times great grandfather Thomas, who was a widower with two young boys, and they went on to have four more children.

Of course, 2016 has been the latest of a series of centennial commemorations of the Somme Battles of 1916. Three bearers of the Bashforth name fell that year. Private Willie Bashforth from Conisbrough, serving in the 12 West Yorkshire Regiment at Ypres, died of wounds on 27 March 1916 and is buried at Lijssenthoek in Belgium. Private Arthur Bashforth of 1/5 KOYLI died in an attack on the Leipzig Salient on 23 July 1916. 2nd Lieutenant John Francis Cuthbert Bashforth died in a futile attack on the Quadrilateral on 15 September when one of the first tanks to be used failed in front of the 9 Norfolk Regiment, leaving them exposed behind uncut barbed wire. Both the latter are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Memorable event followed in the 20th century. 1926 saw the General Strike from 4-13 May. On 4 October 1936, there was the Battle of Cable Street in London’s East End and the Spanish Civil War was in full swing. In 1946, Winston Churchill made his speech about the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the Cold War was essentially launched. All apart from the last of these were before my time but have had echoes for me down the years of my own development, impinging on my consciousness.

On a more personal note, October 1956 made an impact on me because of the Hungarian Uprising, ruthlessly suppressed with Russian tanks in the November, alongside the Suez Canal invasion by French and British troops, and a growing awareness as I entered my teenage years of the dangers of nuclear warfare. While too young to do much about any of them, these were the seeds of future development. In 1966 Harold Wilson was re-elected with a massive majority for a Labour Government akin to the landslide of 1945, only to sell out any mandate to the IMF, whack up interest rates just as my parents bought their first house after years of scrimping and saving, since when I have never trusted the Labour Party as representatives of the interests of the working-classes. The same year I was confirmed in my opinion of both the Labour Party and the heavily bureaucratic nationalised industries by the events at Aberfan and the skinflint treatment of the local community that followed that tragedy.

As I wonder about 2016 and how it will be commemorated in the future, I recall the 40th anniversary of the death of topical singer-songwriter Phil Ochs on 9 April 1976. Check out his version of ‘When I’m Gone’ on YouTube – much more nuanced than cover versions I have heard. It is worth looking at these commemorations for signs of hope such as this and to restore faith and courage for the future. Goodbye 2016.

A drunk in the family – Part 2

[Continued from Part 1]. George Bashforth’s son John, who was not at home on census night in 1891, but was definitely one of the sons recalled by ‘JWR’, matched his father with 28 convictions from the early 1880s until 1907. He seems to have been somewhat itinerant in his drunkenness, clocking up offences in Dewsbury as well as Barnsley, and many of these were for begging in the streets, or for being a ‘rogue and vagabond’ – interspersed with several ‘drunk and disorderly’ events. His religious affiliation was even more promiscuous, including Wesleyan, Church of England and (mostly) Roman Catholic. He was about 5ft 3ins with sandy coloured hair and a variety of cuts and scars.

The Barnsley Chronicle, 24 June 1876 reported: ‘ASSAULTING A POLICE OFFICER. John Bashforth was charged with being drunk and assaulting PC Parkinson in Dodworth Road on the 18th inst. The officer went up to defendant and two other men on the road. Defendant was drunk, and when complainant ordered him home defendant struck him over the nose without any provocation. – The Bench committed defendant for one month for the assault on the police, and dismissed the summons for drunkenness.’

Along with his brother Charles, John was not above a bit of petty theft to feed their need for drink. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 3 September 1881 reported: ‘LARCENY BY FINDING AT BARNSLEY: At the Barnsley Police Court yesterday John Bashforth and Charles Bashforth, wheelwrights, were charged with larceny at Barnsley. – Sarah Wait, wife of an engine tenter, of Cape Street, Barnsley, said she went into the town on Saturday night with a silver lever watch in her dress pocket. She returned home, when she missed the watch, and gave information to the police. Prisoners went to Messrs Eaton and Richards, pawnbrokers, Wakefield, to pledge the watch, when they were given into custody. – Prisoners were each committed for fourteen days.’

John Bashforth eventually died in Barnsley Workhouse Infirmary of Bright’s Disease on 11 October 1915[1]. He never married, for which his female contemporaries should be grateful! Charles, meanwhile, gathered a new drinking partner in his younger brother Isaac.

In the Sheffield Independent, 23 August 1887, ‘Isaac Bashforth and Charles Bashforth, wheelwrights, of Barnsley, were charged with being drunk and assaulting Police-sergeant Balls, at Barugh, on Sunday afternoon last. The officer said he was on duty at Barugh when he saw both the defendants drunk and using bad language. He went up to them and ordered them home. Isaac Bashforth struck him on the breast. He was taking him into custody when Charles went up and struck him a violent blow over the eye and knocked him down. When on the ground he was kicked over the leg. – The Bench pointed out that the prisoners were both sons of a tradesman who at one time occupied a position in the town. They advised them to give over drinking. A fine of 5s and costs for each offence was levied. Defendants were also ordered to pay 7s 6d damage done to the officer’s trousers.’

Isaac Bashforth added further exploits after his father’s death. He was described as 5ft 4ins with brown hair and various scars around the face. From the age of 39 to the age of 47 he seems to have achieved eight convictions for being drunk and disorderly, the last recorded being on 22 August 1902, when he compounded the offence by assaulting the constable who tried to arrest him. He claimed to have been married at the 1901 census, to a woman called Emma nineteen years older than himself, but there is no evidence of a legal marriage. This last incident occurred at her funeral and led to reports in several newspapers on 23 August 1902.

The Nottingham Evening Post reported: “Disgraceful Scene at a Funeral: Arising out of a disgraceful scene which occurred at a funeral at the Hoyland Churchyard, a charge of drunkenness and assault was preferred against Isaac Bashforth, wheelwright, of Barnsley, at the West Riding Police Court yesterday. The prosecutor was Police-constable Imms. According to the evidence of the constable and several witnesses, Bashforth appeared at the funeral of the woman, with whom he had cohabited, in a state of intoxication, and created a disturbance when requested to leave the Churchyard by Police-constable Imms, who was sent for. Defendant struck him several times on the chest, and a struggle ensued in which the constable was injured. Defendant was subsequently locked up. – Ernest Angel stated that as the funeral procession proceeded down Church Street, defendant was following using bad language. He bent over the coffin, and otherwise behaved in a most offensive manner. – John Cadman gave corroborative evidence. – Defendant pleaded that he did not know what he was doing. He was too drunk. – The Bench imposed a fine of 5s and costs or 10 days for the drunkenness; and ordered defendant to pay 20s and costs or undergo one month’s imprisonment, for the assault.’ He went to gaol.

Isaac Bashforth died of bronchitis in 1904 aged 48 at 1 Court 3 Sackville Street, Barnsley attended by his married sister, Margaret Alderson[2]. The Alderson family seem to have been the ones to pick up the broken family pieces. Margaret’s brother-in-law Herbert and his wife Lucy, with five children, were accommodating Charles Bashforth in 1911 in the crowded conditions of Court No 2, Wood Street, Barnsley. Charles never married and died in 1920 aged 63[3].

On the gravestone of Elizabeth Bashforth, who died 26 April 1853, the mother of George and grandmother of the other miscreants, there is a long, blank, unused area ready for further inscriptions, not least of whom should have been that of her husband Swithen Bashforth, who died in some discomfort on 26 May 1873 aged 79 of old age, paralysis and diarrhoea at 13 Court 5, Sheffield Road, Barnsley, attended by Elizabeth Burkinshaw[4], his second wife Esther wasting no time in re-marrying. It is a graven silence that shames some disreputable offspring, whose several claims to the trade of wheelwright may have been honoured more in the breach than reality.

[1] Death certificate. The disease is chronic nephritis, kidney failure.

[2] Death certificate

[3] Apr-Jun 1920 Barnsley 9c 289

[4] Death certificate

A drunk in the family – Part 1

You may be excited to find that among your ancestors there is a notorious convict, especially if they were transported to the Colonies. Unfortunately, for most of us, they are usually less ‘romantic’ – petty thieves, vagrants and drunks. The records of the West Riding jail at Wakefield provide an insight into this uneasy corner of the past[1].

There was a well-known and respectable wheelwright business in early nineteenth-century Barnsley, established there by William Bashforth (1767-1824)[2] and continued by his eldest son, Swithen Bashforth (1793-1873). In St Mary’s old churchyard, there is a memorial stone for William and several of his family. It was organised by Swithen, who looked after his mother following William’s death. Swithen also arranged a stone for his first wife, Elizabeth (née Stringer), with space for his own inscription to be added.

The Barnsley Chronicle of Saturday, 21 July 1933, quoted an elderly resident recalling the 1870s[3]: “At the corner of Peel Street and York Street was a wheelwright’s establishment, kept by old Bashforth and his sons.” At various times before that, Swithen Bashforth had his workshop at 28 Peel Street[4]. What ‘JWR’ recalled, however, belonged to Swithen’s son George Bashforth (1820-1892). George and three of the sons referred to became well known for less respectable reasons.

George Bashforth married the widow Catherine Evans (née Shaw) on 25 March 1844 at Silkstone parish church. Catherine already had one son, James, and the couple went on to have ten more children: five daughters and five sons. Not all of the sons chose to follow their father’s trade of wheelwright in Barnsley, though all started their working life with him. George junior (born 1846) and William (born 1852) went to Worsbrough to the wagon works and the collieries.

The three who stayed were John born 1850, Charles born 1857 and Isaac born 1858. All three were unmarried in 1871, when the family lived at 3 Providence Street (on the south side of town off Park Road). By 1881, the family was at the wonderfully named Jumble Lane at No 9 Court and in 1891 they were at 3 Heelis Street, also on the south side. Catherine had died the previous year and John was (characteristically) out somewhere.

George Bashforth established a reputation for becoming drunk and disorderly.  On 2 July 1867, the Sheffield Independent reported Barnsley Court House, where ‘George Bashforth, labourer (sic), was charged with assault upon his wife on the Friday before’. She was knocked down by her husband in a public house where she had gone in search of him. He was committed to prison for seven days.

On 11 November 1871, the Barnsley Chronicle reported the headline His Eleventh Appearance. George Bashforth, a wheelwright, was charged with being drunk and riotous at Barnsley. The Mayor said: ‘Now George here again’. George replied, ‘I am sorry for it, as I have been teetotal since I was here before’, at which the public broke into laughter. Supt. Sykes handed in a list of previous convictions, which showed the defendant had been before the Court on ten previous occasions. The Mayor commented: ‘Drink! Drink! We should have nothing to do if it were not for drink’. The constable said he had found the defendant in Peel Square creating a disturbance and using abusive language. The Mayor asked the defendant if he had anything to say, to which he replied ‘No, I can say nothing, because I don’t know what I was doing.’ He was committed to prison for seven days.

Between 1881 and 1887, George accumulated a further ten convictions for being ‘drunk and riotous’ for which he received sentences of 14 or 28 days’ hard labour at Wakefield Prison. He was in his 60s and, thanks to the prison records, we learn of his grey hair, varicose veins and that his nose was broken and twisted to the right. Generally, he also had various cuts and bruises. It would appear from his declarations that he may have tried turning to Methodism to control his behaviour, but without success. On 9 October 1886, the Barnsley Chronicle reported that George Bashforth one of the eldest offenders in the town was charged with public disorder. PC Gaythorpe found the defendant drunk and riotous in Lindley Fold and was compelled to lock him up. The defendant was drunk every day and was a nuisance to the neighbourhood. He was committed to gaol for a month. It was only a month since he had come out of gaol.

On 25 August 1888, the Barnsley Chronicle used the headline ‘The Deceived Ones’. George Bashforth, 74, wheelwright, who had been convicted about 30 times at Barnsley for drunkenness and assault, was charged having been drunk and riotous at Barnsley on the previous Saturday. Mrs Smith of New Street, wife of a pork butcher, said the defendant without the slightest provocation struck her a violent blow on the face, on Saturday evening. PS McCrone proved that the prisoner was drunk and very violent in his conduct. He struck the last witness and another woman in the face. He also made use of very bad language and used bad language in Park Row. Prisoner said the newspaper told lies about him, he had not been up 40 times. Mr Taylor told him that the offence record was against him and imposed a fine of 5s and costs.

There may have been subsequent occasions of less riotous drunkenness before he died aged 72 of pneumonia at home in 1892, two years after his poor suffering wife, attended by his married daughter Margaret Alderson[5]. Unfortunately, by that time his sons were establishing their own equivalent reputations. [See Part 2]

[1] Accessible on Ancestry. I have also extensively used the British Newspapers on Find My Past.

[2] From whom the writer is descended.

[3] Quoted in Aspects of Barnsley, Volume 3: Chapter 2 ‘Town End in 1870’ by Ian Harley, p.35 (Wharncliffe, Barnsley, 1995).

[4] Barnsley Streets, Volume 2: EG Tasker (Wharncliffe, Barnsley, 2002)

[5] Death certificate

One of the Anonymous

A life getting by

Matthew Bashforth (1876-1941) was the youngest child of Thomas Bashforth and Bridget (formerly McDonald, née Drury), born in Sheffield in a room at the back of the Arundel Castle public house on 8 April 1876. He was the youngest of seven children from three marriages. His father, Thomas, had been widowed with two boys when his first wife died of consumption. His mother, Bridget, had been widowed with one son when her first husband was killed in the Oaks Colliery disaster. Thomas and Bridget went on to have three girls and Matthew as they moved around in the constant hunt for work. Thomas, born in Barnsley of an equally itinerant father, was a blacksmith by trade but would turn his hand to anything involving metal, mostly foundry work, but opportunities were volatile.

Thomas thought he found settled work with Cammell & Co at their Dronfield works, making steel rail mainly for export to the growing global network of railway construction. Unfortunately, the domestic rail links were not good enough to get the products cheaply to the coast and, in 1883, the company relocated to Workington. There was no package of assistance. If you wanted to keep your job, you paid your own way and took your families by whatever means you could afford. Before leaving for Workington, his mother took Matthew to the RC Church in Sheffield where he was baptised on 2 September 1883.

Before the decade was out, both parents were dead and the family was scattered. Matthew became as itinerant as his father and grandfather. He next appeared in the public record, coming up to 15, working as a Blacksmith’s Assistant to his older half-brother, James Bashforth in Birmingham in 1891. If this was an attempt to give Matthew a trade, it didn’t work out. He would never be more than a labourer.

By 1901 he was living in Barrow in Furness, where his older sister Mary Ann and her husband James McIlheron lived. He worked as a general labourer in the shipyard Gun Shop and lodged with an Irish widow, along with several of his workmates.

On 3 May 1909 at Doncaster magistrate’s court, he was sentenced to 7 day’s hard labour in Wakefield prison for ‘lodging out’, that is for vagrancy and sleeping rough. It is not recorded as to why or where the ‘offence’ took place, but he was listed as a steel dresser by trade, so had been on the move again.

Come 1911 he was in a lodging house on Eldon Street, Tuxford, near Retford, in Nottinghamshire, aged 33, still single and working as a general labourer. The census description was ‘Steam Trasher’ (sic) and there were several more lodgers of the same sort from many different parts of the country. Why so many were needed to work with a threshing machine in spring time, I don’t know.

At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, Matthew was 38 and enlisted. Whether this was from any great patriotic motive or was simply a case of ‘nowt better to do’, is not a matter of record. His medal index card shows that he served initially as Private 19459 West Yorkshire Regiment, going overseas from 9 October 1915 to the ‘Balkans’ – which was probably Gallipoli via Mudros in Greece. He later transferred as Private 210454 Labour Corps. He got his campaign medals, but that is all we know about his war.

Tuxford seems to have formed an attraction for Matthew. The likelihood is that Matthew remained in Nottinghamshire after his work in 1911 or came back there after the war. When the listing of citizens was completed in 1939 he was working as a chimney sweep and living at 66 Eldon Street.

Matthew died there on 15 October 1941 aged 65, of acute bronchial pneumonia. The death was registered by an Edith A. Robinson, present at death. She was a divorced woman who lived at the same address along with John Stevens, a permanent way labourer. Matthew never married, but he died as he had lived – among his own kind.

On the face of it, this sort of life is never celebrated in public and I feel that such anonymity is undeserved. We are exhorted to think that the world is created by entrepreneurs, statesmen and women, cultural celebrities, great leaders, inventors, TV personalities, and so on. But, in truth, what would any of these people do were it not for the millions of anonymous nobodies? Their world would collapse around them. It would disappear in a puff of smoke. It wouldn’t exist in the first place. For better or for worse, men and women like Matthew are the bedrock foundations of society in all its aspects. Think about it.

I feel two connections to Matthew. On the one hand he is a distant relative, the younger brother of my great-grandmother. I have photographs of her but nothing of Matthew. The public records from which I have reconstructed his narrative are a fragmentary surrogate for his physicality and serve to emphasise his personal ‘silence’. On the other hand, I share his situation, for I too have principally been involved in ‘getting by’, in meeting the daily challenges of life, albeit with the advantage of some hard-won workers’ rights. Now under threat. For all my present day materiality seems more rich and complex at this moment, it is just as ephemeral and in 70 years after my death will be as fragmentary. Yet we both have helped in our small, individual ways to shape the world around us, not as individuals so much as part of a greater whole. It makes you think what more we might achieve…