Dear All

Our next ride is the one Anne and Mick tried to do a fortnight ago – but were defeated by the remnants of that hurricane.  Let’s hope it’s a case of “better luck next time.”

19 October – with London Clarion?

After the last newsletter I received an email from Alex of the London Clarion.

Have you managed to find a leader for your ride on 19th October yet please? If not, perhaps London Clarion could travel down to Brighton or somewhere close and lead a ride terminating in Haywards Heath where Martin, our secretary’s, son has an off licence with a bar downstairs in which he could host some drinks for us.

That seems to me like an excellent idea. No-one else has come forward with a suggestion.  Bearing in mind our liking for short rides, starting and finishing at Hassocks might suit us.  This would give us a ride of 14-16 miles (depending on where exactly in HH Martin is located.  By putting in a loop round by the Polish Battle of Britain memorial and Wivelsfield we could make it a bit longer.  Hardier souls (e g from London) might want to skip Hassocks on the way back and ride into Brighton – where maybe we could see them for a drink later.

But that’s only my first thoughts. What do other people think? I think I’ll be OK for 19 October – haven’t (yet!) marked it as one I couldn’t backstop – but I’m not 100% sure.  Also, I’ll be away for most of September and the first few days of October. So it might be an idea if someone who will be around then would take on liaising with Alex. He’s at But (both) please keep me in the loop.

Other rides

Time goes faster and faster – or so it seems. One minute it’s still early 2014 and the next we are hurtling towards Christmas. You’ll see that I’ve put myself down for the 30 November ride. Since we started back in 2004 we’ve always tried to end the year with this short ride based on Berwick. Being conservative in everything except politics, I’d like to keep the tradition up – but I’m otherwise “spoken for” on the Sunday of our last ride date – so I thought we could do it on the penultimate date this year. Always assuming that the trains are right – which one can’t yet check.

That leaves (assuming we take Alex up on his offer) just 3 more rides yet vacant for the year – 2 and 16 November and 14 December. The only one I could backstop is the first one – so we need 2 – and preferably 3 – more volunteers to see us into 2015

This week’s extract from the Clarion 

I have to say that I feel very ambivalent about all the attention currently being given to the centenary of the First World War and am somewhat reluctant to inflict more WWI stuff on you. So I’d better explain how today’s contribution came about. I was asked at the beginning of the year if I’d do a short article – or possibly more than one – about socialists and the war for the magazine Chartist. I agreed to do this and so far two of my pieces have been published and a third one should be appearing in the final issue of the year.

More than any other part of the political spectrum, the Left in Britain was seriously divided by attitudes to the war and this had implications for what happened later. My first piece was about this and how the post-war reaction to the slaughter helped the Labour Party to replace the Liberals and Ramsay MacDonald – vilified by the right-wing press for “anti-war” attitudes – to become prime minister in 1924. The second looked at the BSP weekly Justice in the early months of the war. It eventually became “pro-war” but earlier had reflected a whole range of different takes on the hostilities. My third piece, still to appear, looks at the Clarion.

The first wartime issue of the paper on 7 August (Britain had declared war on 4th) carried Blatchford’s article “The Drums of Armageddon,” which began “I have lived a whole week in a kind of waking nightmare.” A week later he came out unambiguously in (reluctant) support for the war. He was supported by his friend and fellow Clarion editor Alex Thompson – who had been born in Germany and had German as his first language – and other Clarion stalwarts. But this was the beginning of the end of the paper’s previously huge influence on the British Left – though it staggered on until the early 1930s and was briefly replaced by the TUC-supported New Clarion.

I promised “something different” last time – and here it is. I came across the Tom Groom piece while researching my Chartist article but didn’t use it there.

I’m planning to revert to 1896 next time.

More on Shoreham

In my ride details last time I mentioned the opening of the Prince Phillip lock. Soon after I sent it out I received this message from Mick.

Thanks for the bulletin Ian. As a trivial matter of interest, I was present in 1958 when Prince Philip opened the new lock; we got a day off school! Also my parents used to live on the corner of Buckingham Road Shoreham and Old Shoreham Road in a house called “Eldesorham”, which of course means Old Shoreham so it really was the road to Old Shoreham for me!

BTW – before anyone points out all the “points of interest” I didn’t mention last time, my defence is that I was careful to use the word “Some” I didn’t include the various interesting features of the High Street because my planned route didn’t take us down (or up) it. So the fascinating medieval Marlipins with its chequerboard front – of which no one is sure of the original use didn’t get a mention. Then there’s the striking pub sign of the Crown and Anchor which I can’t shed much light on. The large figure is usually described as a pirate – but he looks to me more like a regular seaman from the Middle Ages – true he’s armed, but you’d have to have been a real optimist in those days to venture into the Channel without a cutlass. There’s also the neoclassical former town hall which began life in 1830 as the customs house and is now (I think) a restaurant. And at the end we have the fairly recent Ropetackle building. How to describe it? Inoffensively post-modern – or is that unfair?



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