Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Passage Through Time: An afternoon on 17th March to celebrate women’s history month.

A Passage Through Time, Looking Back To Look Forward, Women In Herstory

An afternoon in March to celebrate women’s history month.

Sunday March 17th

The Dragon Hall

17 Stukeley Street,

3pm ~ 7pm

We will take you on a journey back to tell a little about the other side of the history. Herstory will look at how women have used art and activism to campaign for social changes, challenge injustices, and make things happen.

“Noted, eminent historian Keanu Smurthwaite (absolutely no relation to feminist comedian Kate) presents a brief history of dissemblance, of women who have disguised themselves as men. Some did so to access jobs only available to men, some to escape danger and poverty, some for love or for money, some to legitimise their lesbian relationships or to express what by modern standards we would consider their trans* status. Discover the amazing stories of the first woman to vote in the US election and the first British woman to become a qualified medical doctor, from jazz legend Billy Tipton to yankee civil war hero Albert DJ Cashier all the way back to the downfall of Pope Joan. Please note this talk is “strictly” men only! Definitely no ladies please (moustaches available at the door).”

Also: Becca Morden of Scary Little Girls will be performing on her Uke, She will be looking at how women in blues and musical halls used humour and satire to flout the norms of their day and how folk and popular music artists took their message further still into the heart of women’s lib movement! plus she’ll be chatting about her findings in-between singing extracts of songs and hopefully getting the audience to join in too!

Plus: lots of stands selling unique products, food, books, art, music and more………

Report of RaHN meeting: 6th February 2013

1.  Introduction  23 people attended. The meeting was arranged in honour of Alan Woodward, convenor of the Network, who died on 20 October 2012. 200 people attended a special commemoration event after his funeral and it had been decided to re-launch the Network. Alan himself had been a lifelong supporter, writer and publisher of radical pamphleteering.
2.  The Past, Present and Future of Radical Pamphleteering
Three speakers in turn talked about different aspects of radical self-publishing.

A. (from past tense) Early pamphleteering culture: a rough overview of early pamphlets from the 14th century onwards, and their uses and significance; pamphlets’ specific attractions and value; some thoughts on whether the printed pamphlet is doomed in the age of the internet.  [This interesting, well- informed talk is described more fully in the RaHN pamphlet resulting from the meeting, available shortly.]
B. (from Haringey Solidarity Group)  Exhibiting some subversive pamphlets, and relating some of the radical publishing that had been going on in Haringey over the last thirty years.  Also referred to other forms of self-produced radical material, including leaflets (notably the famous McLibel leaflet and campaign), badges, cartoons, postcards, newsletters like Schnews, subvertising on billboards, agitational punk records and sleeves, the kind of extravagant multi-fold leaflets Reclaim the Streets used to produce, and so on. 
C. ( from Hackney) Feminist self-publishing, concentrating on the period from the 1970s till today. The women’s liberation movement excelled in the production of pamphlets and journals, which were their main way of communicating ideas in print. Also the Publication Distribution Co-operative, founded in 1976, to distribute radical books and journals, and blogs coming out of the 1990s, some of which were influenced by the ethos of the Riot Grrl movement. The resurgence of radical feminism over the last decade has been expressed partly through a revitalized print culture.

There followed an open discussion on the subject. It was generally agreed that it is not a question of either internet or paper propaganda/texts/pamphlets/ etc, - i.e. that both have a role and new technology doesn’t necessarily drive out the old.

There was also some discussion about the complex reality and myth of the ‘Arab Spring’:  internet communications have a powerful immediacy which is useful, maybe especially in war/revolutionary situations, but this is often based on existing ‘real world’ networks and connections.

It was suggested by several speakers that one of the main problems with internet activism etc is that people are suffering from information overload … The internet is also extremely vulnerable to control by the authorities. The satisfying reality of producing a pamphlet was contrasted with the transience of much info on the web.
3.  The Future of the Radical History Network of North East London
It was agreed to carry on! - as North East London rather than Haringey (but not narrowly ‘local’ in any case).

Some suggestions for possible future meetings included:

• General strikes, both in reality and theory, comparing the 1926 General Strike in Britain with more recent general strikes in Europe and elsewhere, and asking how strikes can be widened out and pushed beyond immediate demands; with questions of legality and illegality – when do you keep to the law and when break it? [Now scheduled as Next RaHN meeting, Wednesday May 8th, 7.30pm, General Strikes and Industrial Solidarity, at Wood Green Social Club.
• Defence/preservation of open green spaces, parks, etc, in North London.
Housing, housing struggles… This could also be related to squatting… (possibly following up a previous RaHN meeting.) And related to this (though maybe as a separate meeting), a suggestion of a history of spaces squatted for childcare/occupied to preserve childcare.
• A history of Broadwater Farm.
• A meeting which related more to some of the large migrant communities in the area, eg Turkish people …
It was eventually agreed to meet every three months for now rather than every month, as it was before.

A core group of volunteers was set up to co-ordinate future plans. We want to make sure that the network is run collectively and not reliant on just one or two people.

This blog is also continuing!

4.  Alan’s archive Alan Woodward left an extensive personal archive of radical reading matter behind him, which he wanted to be maintained as a local archive, open for people to use, research, read, under the administration of a libertarian group… In the long term this should be used as the basis of a local radical history library.

5.  Meeting of the core organising group
Next meeting:
  Agreed that the next RaHN meeting should be on Wednesday May 8th, on “General Strikes’… (along the terms set out at #3 above)
Venue: Wood Green Social Club.

Future publications:  Agreed to put out a proposed a pamphlet on the history of Haringey parks as a RaHN publication.  There was also an idea of producing a pamphlet based on tonight’s meeting on self-publishing [this is already in preparation].
Archives:  As a group we are interested in being involved in the administration of the archive…

Finances:  Plans to reprint some of Alan’s books and pamphlets mean more cash is needed… It was suggested we launch an appeal.

That Date for Diaries once again:
Next RaHN meetingWednesday May 8th, 7.30pm
General Strikes and Industrial Solidarity
Wood Green Social Club

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Haringey Local History Fair: Saturday February 23, 2013

Saturday February 23, 2013
11am to 4:30pm
Bruce Castle Museum, Lordship Lane N17

Find out more about Haringey’s history
  •  Stalls
  •  Experts
  •  Speakers
  •  Childrens Activities
Want to find out more about Haringey’s history but don’t know where to start? Well, this is the Fair for you.

Talks programme (each lasts 20 – 30 minutes):
11.15am The Discovery of a Harringay Estate Map by Bethany Burrow Atherton, (Harringay Online)
11.55am The Chinese Workforce Heritage Project by Robert Waite, Deputy Curator (on behalf of Ming-Ai, Institute, Bounds Green)
12.35pm Famous Sons & Daughters of Tottenham By Alan Swain (Summerhill Road website)
1 - 2pm Lunch break
2pm Alexandra Palace Theatre - a history by Marlene McAndrew (Friends of Bruce Castle)
2.40pm As Alan Saw It: Alan Woodward – An Appreciation of his Life and Work by members of Radical History Network for North East London
3.10pm Tea break
3.30pm The Moselle and Other Watery History by Albert Pinching & David Dell, Hornsey Historical Soc
4.10pm Picture This! The Public Catalogue Foundation by Deborah Hedgecock, Curator

The Search Room will be open 11am - 4pm
See a special small display of archives celebrating 100 years of Risley Primary School of Tottenham. Ask our staff about researching local history and family history. Please note: this is an introduction to the service and a chance to ask questions, and not a time for research.

Friday, February 15, 2013

New publications from Past Tense

Last week's Radical History Network of NE London discussion on the past, present and future of radical pamphleteering was packed out (20+ people) and riveting! Full report to follow soon....   Meanwhile, past tense press on with some new and exciting agitational publications. See below.

Dobro vecer.

Past Tense have been busy... staying indoors with the telly off, (to avoid
screwbilees and that poncy olympic ballroom horse ballet), we actually got
some writing and layout done... after some hot slaving over melting
hardware and glitchy software, we have put together a couple of books and
two free pamphlets, which are now available, from us direct, and soon from
select retail outlets.


The Land of Cokaygne and Other Utopian Visions
Omasius Gorgut.
Price: £7.00
ISBN: 978-0-9565984-3-1

“We’ll eat all we please from ham and egg trees
that grow by a lake full of beer…
The landlord well take and tie to a stake
and we won’t have to work like a slave...

In the face of a life defined by exploitation and suffering, the poor of
the Middle Ages dreamed up a fantastical land where their sufferings were
reversed; where people lived in idleness and plenty ­ and the rich were
barred. This myth of a free earthly paradise emerged in a popular song,
The Land of Cokaygne, in which rivers ran with wine and milk, the houses
were made of pasties and tarts, and animals ran around cooked and ready to
From fourteenth century Europe to the twentieth century USA, Poor Man’s
Heaven traces this popular fantasy, its links to the culture & customs of
the times ­ and the rebels who tried to turn dream into reality...

Reflections on the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent
Price: £4.00
ISBN 978-0-9565984-6-2

The 1978-79 Winter of Discontent, forgotten and repressed as it may be,
nevertheless still haunts the memory of this society. The last great mass
success of the class struggle for the employed section of the working
class in the UK, it also marked the beginning of the new epoch - the
Thatcherite counter-revolution, a decisive change of strategy for British
The only time politicians and the media can bring themselves to mention it
is as their
ultimate horror scenario, one that must never be allowed to happen again.

“To Delightful Measures Changed” (compiled from two texts written by Dave
Wise and Henri Simon, then shaped into a killer text by endangered
phoenix) recounts the build-up to the the events of 1978-79, details (and
celebrates) some of the crucial struggles, and analyses them in their
economic and political context. It also asks searching questions about the
past, present and future role of autonomous workers’ movements and trade

and then there's

The Spitalfields Silkweavers: London’s Luddites?

For centuries, silkweaving was one of London’s biggest industries,
employing thousands in the East End. Through the 18th century, the
silkweavers fought to defend their wages & conditions: their tactics
included strikes, riots, sabotage and more. In some ways the issues they
faced, and the methods they used, anticipate those of the later Luddite
movement; but with crucial differences.
Past Tense's oblique contribution to the debate and commemoration around
the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprising.

• WE REMEMBER THE ROTUNDA coincide with the 2012 Cuts Cafe squat in South London’s Blackfriars
,  a short account of the groundbreaking 19th century radical space
that once stood opposite.


write to

past tense
c/o 56a Info Shop
56 Crampton Street,
SE17 3AE

For the books: enclose a cheque for the required amount, plus £1.00
Postage/Packing for the first item and 50p for each one on top.
For the free pamphlets, send two first class stamps per item.

BULK ORDERS: If you would like a few copies to sell/give away to your
mates, your local bookshop or for a book stall, let us know what you'd
like, and we’ll do you a discount deal.

please make cheques payable to Past Tense Publications.

We are in the process of putting together a past tense catalogue,
detailing all of our old and new publications that are still in print.
Watch this space...