Monday, October 18, 2010


Published in 1937, Smoky Crusade by R M Fox is the autobiography of a socialist, anti-imperialist and supporter of the the Irish national revolution whose teenage years were spent in Tottenham. The Radical History Network is republishing those chapters of his autobiography that cover his early years and also his fight against the First World War.


On my fourteenth birthday I left a London elementary school and was flung into industrial life, or, to be exact, I left on Friday and was fourteen on Monday. There was nothing unusual about this, most of the boys at school followed that custom. I do not know what became of any after the school door closed on them and me, except one, whom I met some years later in prison. He recalled himself to my memory. I was then working in the prison kitchen.
    "I was at school with you - poke us a bit of pudden through the window!" he muttered urgently from outside. The others called him my college chum.
    When I left the red-brick building called the Lancastrian School, whose bell at the end of the street had so often hastened my morning toilet, I was anxious to find work and make my way in the world. I was very vague about how to do this. For although I took a vivid and romantic interest in the world around me I had no definite, practical aim. In any case I had to find a job whatever was open. It was not for me to choose.
I went to see an estate agent who advertised for a boy in his office. He was a most gentlemanly man, with