Clarion History 14: The General Election of 1895

27 November 2018

By 1895 there were two main national papers that identified with the Independent Labour Party (ILP) founded with considerable help from the Clarion in 1893. But – as mentioned in earlier episodes of this series – Keir Hardie the president of the new party had begun his own paper the following year – 1894. Although the Labour Leader wasn’t actually taken over by the ILP until the 20th century it nevertheless, because of Hardie’s prominence, tended to be regarded as the party’s official organ from the start.

It’s fair to say that Hardie and Blatchford didn’t get on and that they had very different perceptions of what the priorities should be for socialists. Hardie, already an MP wanted to advance the cause through conventional electoral politics. Blatchford wasn’t against doing that but thought it was a low priority which could be left more or less to look after itself. What was crucial was ‘making socialists.’ The phenomenal success of Merrie England which,again, I explained in an earlier episode, seemed to support this sense of priorities.

And, again, as we have already seen, the Clarion notion of ‘real democracy’ went way beyond anything Hardie and the ILP were proposing. And there was criticism from ILPers before the general election which took place in the summer, of the Clarion Cycling Club holding its ‘Meet’ at Easter -at the same time as the annual conference of the ILP. On the Clarion side Blatchford and Co insisted that democracy began at home. They waged a campaign – quite widely supported in the ILP – to drop Hardie’s title of ‘president’ and were successful in 1896 when it was changed to ‘chairman’. Not that it made too much difference to what the Clarion regarded as Hardie’s domination of the new party.

But before continuing with the tale of the election from the ILP/Clarion standpoint this is one of those occasions when to get a sense of what was really at stake we need to adopted a wider and longer-term perspective. At the moment the media is full of tales of splits in the Conservative and -to a lesser extent for the moment – the Labour parties. But if we could be joined by a well-informed observer of the political scene from 1890s or 1900s s/he would be likely to say ‘Splits! You ain’t seen nothing yet!’

The ace splitter was Joseph Chamberlain who managed the remarkable feat of splitting first the Liberal Party over Home Rule for Ireland and then, in the early twentieth century, the Conservative Party over Tariff Reform. In 1895 he was the Leader of the Liberal Unionists– i.e. the Libs who objected to Home Rule – and in alliance with the Conservatives. Gladstone had retired the previous year -after being PM on four different occasions, still a record today – and the Tory/Lib Unionist coalition was successful at the general election.

This would have far-reaching results. Chamberlain became the minister for the colonies and was largely responsible for the pretty disastrous Boer war 1899-1902 which among other things saddled Britain with the guilt of inventing the concentration camp.

But back to the 1895 election. Like all new movements and revivals hopes were high among Clarion readers and ILPers generally as the election approached. As usual on such occasions the heightened enthusiasm of a significant minority tended to obscure the fact that there were even more folk on the electoral register who were not carried away by the prospect of the new ILP.

The ILP fielded 28 candidates hoping to gain a small parliamentary foothold. But none were elected. And Keir Hardie lost his seat too. From his point of view the fact that no one else from the ILP succeeded did have the advantage of meaning that – given how important parliamentary representation is even to many who say they don’t believe in it – there was no real rival for leader of the party, though Blatchford remained as a sort of unofficial leader of the internal opposition.

In the four or five years that followed Hardie settled down to pursuing his objective of the ‘Labour alliance’ – which meant allying with trade unions or at least some of them; the miners for example were quite content to elect Lib-Labs until after the 1906 election which gave Labour its foothold in the Commons. The unions, still mainly Liberal in politics, were relatively speaking well off. The ILP was close to broke. It’s best bet, Hardie realised, was to tap the resources of as many of the unions as possible. The Labour Alliance strategy would succeed in 1900 when the Labour Representation Committee – already known unofficially as the Labour Party – was formed.

There was some disappointment among the readers and staff of the Clarion in August 1895 but winning elections was not their main thing. After 1895 they would turn their attention to a number of projects which had in common a belief in the virtues of direct democracy.

Ian

Next Time: ‘Socialist Unity’ and the Clarion Referendum

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Clarion History 13: The First Easter Meet

16 November 2018

I included a number of extracts from the Clarion about the first Easter Meet at Ashbourne (near Dovedale) in the series I did a long time ago now but which still can be found via the blog if you follow the link to the old website.

What follows is just a small selection. First, here is ‘Swiftsure’ who presided over the weekly cycling column at that time – from the issue of 20 April 1895

Had there been more consultation beforehand between the various clubs interested, I feel sure the conference would have been more satisfactory.

But, however, a start has been made, and the formation of a National Clarion Cycling Club is a fact which, I believe will have far-reaching influence.

* * *

On behalf of the Birmingham Club, the “O’ Groomie O” gave a most interesting report of what their club has done since its formation, by the distribution of literature, and various other methods of scouting. And I must say that if every Clarion Club now formed were to do as much as this next season the cause of “Socialism” would be advanced in the country villages in a manner which is greatly needed

* * *

Before I leave the subject of the Ashbourne “meet” I should just like to say that the thanks of nearly everyone who went – and I believe they numbered nearly 200 – are due to Captain Atkinson of the Birmingham C.C.C for the indefatigable manner in which he looked after the visitors.

We all know that a Socialist who only does his duty requires and asks for no thanks, but all the same a true word of appreciation makes a man feel that his efforts are not thrown away.

There were several Sheffield cyclists at the “meet” and they expressed a wish for a “Clarion” C,C to be formed in Sheffield. Mr Jas. Ashurst, 29 Baker Street, Attercliffe, has offered to act as organiser in the first instance. Will all who are interested in the formation of such a club for Sheffield please communicate with him.

In the same issue A M Thompson (aka Dangle) was rather more fulsome.

No healthier or brighter force exists in all the movement than the ardent legion of young and lusty Scouts and Cyclists with whom we so pleasantly forgathered in the restful vale of the Dove. Their fervour, their intelligence, their readiness and resourceful of with (sic), their broad sympathy, and, above all, their kindly good humour, brought some of us who had presumed to think our services needful to were not wanted at all – except perhaps – as their disciples

* * * *

These men will serve. They formed the National Clarion Cycling Club at Ashbourne which is destined to make history.

Rather a lot of ‘men’ – but fortunately it didn’t stay that way for very long. Finally, for this edition, here is an account that throws light on how ‘Boots and Spurs’ – which came originally from one of Blatchford’s army tales – was first used in the cycling club. I’m not sure who the author was but it purports to tell the tale of the arrival at Ashbourne.

First we got oiled and blown up at Timberlake’s Repository.

“A great gent like you,” says Timberlake, when he saw my non-perisher tyres, “should have a better machine than this one.”
” A great gent like me,” I reply, ” Why, what sort of gent am I?” and Timberlake looked three ways for daylight and also scraped himself. “Well, ” he said, at last, with a critical air, “you look like a gent who could do with his portion.”

“You’ve guessed it at once,” said Whiffly and so we bestrid our wayward steeds, an after a brief halt at the “Buck in the Park” went in for records.

We got there, and, under the circumstances, we claim this as the greatest of cycling records. Cycling papers please copy.
Halfway is a village called Brailsford, with a contription. Ha! Ha! I need say no more.

It was a mile or two after this that Whifflly riding down a long steep hill with that sublime confidence which marketh the new beginner, lost control of his machine. Talk about Gilpin’s ride, it was nothing compared to Whiffly’s. He disappeared in a cloud of dust, out of which on the right-hand side a man and bicycle presentely turned double somersaults on the grass bank. Talk about De Quincey’s “Vision of Sudden Death”. In those cases where you are suddenly face to face with grim death, it is wonderful how coolly you philosophise.

“If Whiffly had fifty necks, ” I said to myself as he careered past, ” he’ll break every one of ’em this time.”

Instead of which, he was, beyond a few bruises, practically uninjured. It is unsafe to make predictions concerning him, he is such an unreliable person,

When I say practically uninjured I mean that the new knickerbockers were rent in twain. But we borrowed some string from a village blacksmith and tied ’em up behind a hedge. After which we smoked pipes on the grassy verge, and rode into Ashbourne, where we were welcomed by a knot of young fellows on the bridge with a cry of “Boots” to which we gave the Clarion countersign “Spurs –  and plenty of ’em.”

Ian

Next Time – The General Election of 1895


Clarion History 12

30 October 2018

Hail Referendum!

Unless you’ve read the book I mentioned last time – or even more unlikely my UoS thesis on which it was largely based – you may be unaware how much advocacy there was of ‘direct democracy’ (Or what the Swiss would call ‘semi-direct democracy’; apparently for them you have to meet face-to-face in large field for it to count as ‘direct’.) It didn’t begin with the Clarion but the paper was an enthusiastic supporter of the ‘initiative and referendum’   The initiative meant that a certain (pretty large) number of people could demand and bring about a referendum on anything they wanted to

When the Social-Democratic Federation- the first modern socialist organisation in Britain at national level – was formed in 1884 it included as the second point in its programme ‘Legislation by the people in such wise that no project of law should become binding till accepted by the majority of the people’ while the next point demanded ‘The People to decide on Peace and War.’ All of which meant having a lot of referendums – even when there was no threat of war. The ‘peace and war’ point was something, incidentally, that Justice the SDF weekly reminded readers about both at the beginning of what was then called the Boer War and again in 1914.   As we will see in a moment  the referendum and initiative was also taken up -enthusiastically -by the Clarion

This enthusiasm for direct legislation was far from out of step with what was supported by other socialist parties of the time. In 1904 R.C K. Ensor – the future author of England 1870-1914 – published Modern Socialism, as set forth by Socialists in their speeches , Writings and Programmes. It ran through at least three editions before the outbreak of war in 1914 and showed, for example, that, like the SDF, the German SPD, the Austrian Social Democrats and the now united French socialists all included the referendum and initiative in their programmes.

In the case of the Clarion it was Alex Thompson (aka ‘Dangle’), rather than Blatchford, who took the lead -or at least did most of the work. But during the 1894 debate on ‘Real Democracy’ – which I gave a snapshot of in the 9th episode of this series – Blatchford wrote that the would ‘put the people into the place of the House of Peers so that every measure of importance should, after passing the House of Parliament, be referred to the nation for refusal or acceptance.’ This was very like the SDF’s second demand which I’ve already mentioned.

The following week – we’re at the end of 1894 and the start of 1895 – Thompson went much further and suggested that a system of direct legislation ‘would absolutely annihilate Parliament and the whole tribe of politicians.’ Always a popular cry. He went on to explain that during a recent visit to Paris he had met up with the prominent French socialist Jean Allemane. As a child – his parents were a 19th century equivalent of ‘strolling players’ who worked throughout Europe and Thompson always said that his first language was German – Thompson had been in Paris during the Paris Commune and the ‘Bloody Week’ that followed. Allemane had commanded the Communards’ barricade in the street where the Thompsons lived. During the 1894 visit Allemane had explained that he wanted every citizen to have the right ‘either to vote upon the law proposals of others or to initiate laws himself.’

The 1893 Congress of the Socialist International, held in Zurich, had endorsed the idea of the referendum and initiative and the time must have seem propitious for Thompson to take up the issue. Perhaps the fact that the Fabians had been the main opponents of this helped push things on. They were not popular in either the Clarion or the SDF. They were seen – not without a smidgeon of justification – as advocates of bureaucracy

The result of Dangle’s labours was the pamphlet Hail Referendum! The Shortest Way to Democracy. Blatchford fully supported this and in the summer of 1896 expressed, like Thompson had, his distrust of politicians – even radical ones. He suggested that the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution had come about because of ‘gangs of elected scoundrels’ and had been ‘the price “the people” paid for their folly in delegating their public duties to the rascals who made the most noise.’

Thompson went on to write two more pamphlets on this subject – both preceded by several Clarion articles – The Referendum and Initiative in Practice which took a very positive view of the Swiss experience with the initiative and referendum– was published in 1899 and The Only Way to Democracy a year later at the start of the new century.

I’d better leave it there although there was considerable debate about these issues right up to the outbreak of war in 1914. Anyone wishing to read arguments against ‘direct legislation’ from this period should have a look at the best ones – in my opinion – made by Clifford D Sharpe in 1911 in Fabian Tract No 155 The Case Against the Referendum.

Next Time   The First Easter Meet 1895

 


Clarion History

14 October 2018

11 The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club – a national link-up?

We’re still in 1894 -and indeed rather earlier in that year than last time. In trying to give an idea of how the Clarion developed and what it stood for; I want to tie in as far as I can something of the story of the CCC, using where possible some of the material I collected and put out in earlier newsletters some years ago. Two episodes back I used Tom Groom’s ‘Advance Birmingham’ letter which appeared in the paper at the end of April 1894. A month later the piece that follows appeared. It’s part of a report from ‘Manchester and District’ by Leonard Hall. Hall was a long-term ILP activist, probably best known later on, in 1910, as one of the authors of the ‘Green Manifesto’ (not an environmental tract, I’m afraid, but so called from the cover of the booklet). Its official name was Let Us Reform the Labour Party (yes, even then!). The story is told – I think I can allow myself a plug after all this hard work – in one of my chapters (the ‘political’ rather than ‘union’ ones) of Logie Barrow and Ian Bullock,Democratic Ideas and the British Labour Movement, 1880-1914, Cambridge University Press, 1996, now available in affordable paperback from CUP! I’m drawing on this a lot for other episodes of this ‘history’ But enough of this self-promotion – here’s Hall’s report from the end of May 1894

The latest and greatest ‘idea’ in the world is that of a National ‘Clarion’ Cycling Club with local centres. The electrical Tom Grooms and the oak-hearted Harry Atkinsons of Birmingham have the honour of inspiration but there is nothing ‘Brummagem’ about it. These neighbours of Joseph the Pneumatic have already a lively little society of ‘jiggers’ who wear in their caps a natty gilt badge consisting of a miniature bugle with the legend ‘Clarion’ in silver letters – all permanent wear and who not only enjoy themselves but spread the gospel by way of sticking I.L.P. labels and texts wheresoever they wander on wheels. Besides which they can lend a hand – or rather a voice – at struggling branch meetings in adjacent districts wherever occasion calls.
. . .
I.L.P. cyclists – and their name is now legion – all over the country can have the aforementioned emblems by applying to Comrade Chris Thompson, 253 Park Road, Hockley, Birmingham, who is the designer. And local societies that wish to fall in with the National ‘C’ C.C. should communicate with the same gentleman at once, as it is proposed to organise a great gathering of the clans later in the summer at some convenient centre – say Derbyshire.
. . .
By the way, why not have a great ‘Clarion’ picnic for all and sundry some August weekend, in some happy English valley, to which should come the faithful from the four corners of the world, on wheels, on legs, in trains, ye Bounder to preside over the revels and – er- the vittles.

Which, among much else, tells us about the origin of the Clarion silver badge.

Ian

Next Time       Hail Referendum! (no certainly not that one!)

 


Clarion History 10: The Clarion and John Lister

2 October 2018

We saw in the last episode how much Blatchford objected to the very notion of ‘leadership;’ He rejected it in Clarion articles on ‘Real Democracy’ and ‘On Leaders’ in the summer of 1894. He always conceded that he was in a minority, even among socialists, in taking such ideas so far. And there was considerable debate in the paper featuring those who disagreed with him. One such was John Lister, who was among other things, the national treasurer of the ILP.. Perhaps a slightly unlikely ILP, Lister was a Wykehamist, an Oxford graduate and the owner of Shilden Hall near Halifax, a town he would stand twice unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for the ILP. In the Clarion on 15 July he recognised the necessity for democratic control but entered some caveats about leaders and elected representatives. Responding to Blatchford he gave his opinion that

…a large amount of individual freedom must be left to the selected ones. This, not in the interest of the leaders themselves, but of those they represent and guide. To me the essential thing seems to be that really the fittest men for any special work be selected.

Provocative words – if you were Robert Blatchford.

But the debate died down over the summer – for one thing the staff of the Clarion were up to their ears busily bringing out the penny edition of Merrie England. In November the debate was resumed with a new intensity when the behaviour – or alleged behaviour – of Lister on Halifax council seemed to epitomise ‘the never-ending audacity of elected persons.’ The facts of the case were hotly disputed but, as initially presented in the Clarion, concerned suspicions of secret dealings with the Liberals by Lister and his colleague as a town councillor representing the local constituent of the ILP, the Halifax Labour Union, James Beever. Such activity would have been anathema especially to advocates of the ‘Manchester Fourth Clause’ like Blatchford.

Whether or not they were guilty of such things Blatchford argued that it was ‘quite clear that they were guilty of another and equally serious offence and that is insubordination.’ Lister had refused ‘to act according to the direction of his constituents when on the Council’ and Beever had refused to publicly deny charges of Liberalism. They were both prominent and popular people who had served the movement well in the past, but that just made it more clear that ‘the only course open to Halifax Labour Union is to expel both of these members from the I.L.P.’

A heated controversy inevitably followed with Hardie defending Lister in the Labour Leader. Blatchford insisted that

Socialism without Democracy would be a state of abominable tyranny. Democracy means that the people shall manage their own affairs…

One critic of Blatchford and defender of Lister in the Clarion itself was Edward Carpenter – ironically enough the declared disciple of the very Walt Whitman so often cited by the Clarion editor as a steadfast democrat. Carpenter attacked ‘the dancing doll theory’ and supported Hardie on the Halifax business and eulogised John Lister. Like so many other Clarion campaigns in the 1890s the Clarion – or in this case Blatchford himself – lost out. But this does not mean that the issues raised are not important -even in the 21st century

Ian

 

 

Next Time   The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club – a national link-up?

 


Clarion History – 9 ‘Real Democracy’ and the Clarion

19 September 2018

The last episode was on the long side. So this time I’ll keep it fairly short. In episode 7 I explained about the rivalry and sometimes hostility between Blatchford and the Clarion on the one hand and Keir Hardie and the Labour Leader on the other. How sensitive all this was, right from the start, is Illustrated by what happened in June 1894. In the 9th June Clarion appeared an apparently casual remark by Blatchford. He had written, ‘I have always urged the people to watch their leaders – since they will have leaders – closely and call them shapely to account. ‘ This then triggered a whole series of articles on ‘Real Democracy’ which were widely construed as an attack on Hardie.

A rather convoluted debate then followed in which Blatchford tried – not altogether convincingly – to differentiate ‘guides’ – like himself or, presumably, Karl Marx – from ‘leaders.’ A ‘leader,’ he insisted, was a commander ‘whether a usurper or an elect of a democracy’ As regards the latter Blatchford declared himself ready, as he would do many time in the following years, in the words of Walt Whitman ‘to rise against the never-ending audacity of elected persons.’

What about himself as a ‘leader?’ Blatchford conceded that ‘I might have been a leader.’ He’d actually been elected into a position of leadership when the Manchester and Salford ILP was founded. He had ‘consented because I knew that if I refused the Party would not be formed at all,’ But as soon as the party ‘got a little vigour and growth’ he had left. He had done so for two reasons. Firstly, he had ‘suspected the existence of a spirit of “deference’ towards him. Secondly, he had realised that there was ‘outside the Party an injurious belief that the existence of the Party depended on my presence.’

He reiterated his objection to the notion that he was any sort of ‘leader’.

Like Edward Carpenter and William Morris, I am a counsellor and nothing more. I will have neither pay, nor office nor power from the people. I am no more a ‘leader’ than is a scientist who pleads for better sanitation.

Having disposed, to at least his own satisfaction, of the unmerited accusation of leadership as applied to himself and having carefully distinguished between the role of guide, or counsellor, which was legitimate, and that of leader or commander which was at best dodgy in the extreme. Blatchford went on to protest against the idea that Parliament or other elected bodies were there to govern.

These men should not be ‘masters,’ they should be delegates. In council let them give their advice and opinion honestly and earnestly, and let the advice be accepted or rejected as the majority deems fit . But in Parliament and in all executive positions their duty is not to command but to obey.

As we shall see in some of the later episodes – including the next one – this uncompromising view would be restated in one form or another many times in the years that followed.

Next Time The Clarion and John Lister


Clarion History – 8

5 September 2018

The very beginning of the Clarion Cycling Club

Time, I thought, for a bit of relief from all this ‘political’ stuff – interesting and important though it is   Many years ago now I featured a longer version of what follows in the newsletter. You can still find it in the ‘History’ section of the old website via the current blog. But even if you read it when I used it before then the chances are you’ve long forgotten it. So here goes.

As you can read in Denis Pye’s Fellowship is Life it all started with a letter from Tom Groom – now commemorated in the Tom Groom trophy awarded every year at the Meet.

At the time Groom was Secretary of the Bond Street Labour Church in Birmingham. This was a recently-formed organisation – another part of the ‘socialist revival’ of the 1890s that helped float the Clarion. Its founder was an ex Unitarian (as in New Road, Brighton) minister – John Trevor. The Labour Church must not to be confused with the various brands of Christian Socialism. Basically the difference was that whereas Christian Socialists believed that Christianity was essentially socialist, the Labour Church started as it were from the other end seeing the Labour Movement itself as essentially religious. At the end of April 1894 the letter below appeared in the paper. It was followed by a very typical Clarion editorial comment

[We print the above with some misgiving. After recent allegations we are not wholly untroubled with a horrific suspicion that it may be an invention of this unconventional person. Our fears in him stick deep – especially since he has gone, or has not gone – on Tour. If our suspicions should prove correct – but enough – Ed. Clarion]

The ‘unconventional person’ was, you probably won’t be surprised to learn, that early Clarion stalwart Edward Fay – aka The Bounder

I’m convinced that the editorial comment was just one of Blatchford’s jokes – but perhaps not everyone was at the time. Or perhaps they saw in it the opportunity for another ‘go’ because the following week , 5 May 1894, there appeared in the Clarion as one of the contributions to ‘Local Notes’ a report on Birmingham, signed ‘Arturo’ which, after reporting the recent foundation of the Birmingham Democratic Club went on:-

The Clarion Cycling Club has come to stay and the article in last week’s
Issue in reference thereto was written by a prominent member. So the editorial misgiving that the Bounder may have done this thing may now give way to editorial calm, and the Great and Only one stands once more vindicated before men.

So, with that by way of introduction here – at last – is the letter in its entirety. It’s a bit long but you need to read the whole thing to get the full flavour.

ADVANCE BIRMINGHAM
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF THE CLARION CYCLING CLUB’S EASTER TOUR

‘We shall arrive!’ And in order that our coming may be speedy, we have started the Clarion Cycling Club, and at Easter we want to tour. We were seven; And we started from Birmingham to Wolverhampton by train on a dirty, dark, damp, dismal, dreary morning at 7.15.

We were only half awake and we were cold and hungry and the journey between Birmingham and Wolverhampton is one of the most mournful in England.

But – aha – we got to Wolverhampton, and had a little refreshment, and we got on our jiggers, and we woke up, and the sun came out, and the ‘little squeakers’ began to warble fit to crack their little throats, and we got hopeful, and cheerful, and oh! we were gay!

Then came we unto Bridgnorth and did there Bounderise. Bounderise – verb irregular (very) meaning to imbibe liquors of various degrees of strength – to assimilate resuscitating comestibles – to walk on one’s heels – and to generally spread oneself out. Afterwards we sampled Bridgnorth on the banks of the silvery Severn, and departing thence came to Arley and Bewdley both on the banks of the aforesaid silvery Severn.

On our way hitherwards we were led by ‘The Fiend’ into a veritable slough of despond, from which we emerged covered with much variety of landed estate causing a delay of many golden moments whilst we scraped ourselves.

Bewdley is a fine place, but – they haven’t been used to catering for cyclists there. We assisted in their education, however, and the next time they hear of our coming they will prepare themselves. For we shall arrive.

Next day we pushed on to Evesham, via Stourport, Ombersley, Worcester and Pershore. At Worcester we indulged in periphery swelling, consuming spring chickens (year doubtful), sampled the cathedral, and then in single file proceeded through the town. Suddenly the first man rang his bell and dismounted, the others following suit. The first man spoke not but pointed with trembling delight to where they sold the Clarion. There is hope for Worcester – they sell the Clarion there. We marched in, in order, and purchased our Clarions, and then as solemnly walked out, once more mounted our machines and proceeded on our way, as men who had glimpses of higher things.

In this mood we came to Evesham, as quaint and pretty a little town as existeth, and there once more we Bounderised. Good Lord! How we did eat! Before we commenced operations, our fair hostess besought us to stay for dinner the next day, telling us of the gracious things provided for the meal. She plied us with legends of cyclists who had fared at her hands, and had afterwards wandered to other taverns, but had come back to her hostelry once more as a haven of rest and home of plenty. Then provender appeared. For half an hour we raised not our eyes and spoke not a word, but steadily thought on the Bounder. The landlady became silent, the moody, then morbid, flinched, trembled, quivered, quavered, quock, broke line and finally succumbed. It was a glorious victory. ‘Are you,’ she asked with quivering lips, ‘are you gentlemen going to stay dinner tomorrow?’ We said we were not and once more she breathed freely.

We went to bed late that night – very late – but we arose early next morn, for the Army of Salvation paraded the town at 6 a m with a band, the big drum being in charge of the local blacksmith. May he be eternally spiflicated.

We were due at the Labour Church that night, so we started Brumwards, having spent as good a holiday as possible. Ah-h-h-h!!!! It was glorious!! Say no man lives till he has been on tour with the Clarion CC. Till then he but exists. After – !!!

We are going on another tour at Whitsun of which more anon.

By the way, we want a President. Bounder, what sayest thou? Wilt thou preside o’re us? The duties are light. Thy might name to grace our fixture list, and a visit of yourself to Brum to preside over a periphery–swelling function. Wilst thou come? Look you, Bounder, we are no mean admirers of yours. See here, what you have moved one of us to: –

When the bounding Bounder boundeth
Lightly o’er the Clarion page
Then the reader’s heart rejoineth
Filled with wisdom from the Sage

Fig for Nunquam and for Dangle
Fraud Mcginnis and Mont Blong
Thou alone, mighty Bounder
Art fit subject for our song

There are 98 more verses to this, which, if the Bounder will become our President we solemnly promise to destroy, If not – !!!

THE O’GROOMIE O

……………………………………….

As you see our Clarion ride reports are not without precedent from the very earliest days. Not sure who our version of ‘The Fiend’ might be. Any nominations?

 

Ian

 

Next time ‘Real Democracy’ and the Clarion