Harry Leslie Smith's Blog

June 17, 2016

The lights of democracy grew dim yesterday when Jo Cox our comrade was murdered while serving her constituents and this country as a Member of Parliament.

I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Jo in person our paths crossed on social media and we followed each other on twitter where I learned much about her passion for social justice.

Through her tragically brief parliamentary career I admired her resolve to help end the refugee crisis and I was impressed by her grit in fighting against the ravages austerity brought to her constituency and the north of england.

All of Britain is in a shocked state of mourning because we are a nation that is not use to political assassination. No, we are a nation that still believes that democracy must be a peaceful exchange of ideas.
So when one of our law makers is killed for no reason other than that they wanted to serve their community the people of Britain react like a family who has lost a loved one in a horrible and unnecessary tragedy.

Jo Cox's family has lost an irreplaceable part of their souls with her murder. These next days, weeks, months and years for them will be filled with much grief, anger and unquenchable sorrow and my heart breaks for them. Labour has lost an integral  champion for human rights on the green benches and no one will ever be able to replace her humanity and iron will to see better days come for the vulnerable in this country and in country's destroyed by war. Britain has lost a voice of compassion and reason that never became shrill or strident but was always measured with good Northern common sense.
Our sorrow will remain heavy for a long while but we in Labour who admired her can not let her legacy die, we must stand united and resolved to end this cruel and inhumane refugee crisis by using both our heads and hearts to help those made vulnerable by war and economic inequities.
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Published on June 17, 2016 04:37 • 907 views

February 25, 2015

The bell for my last orders will soon be wrung because I am 92 today and I have reached the fag end of my days. But I am not sad because life still offers me the pleasure of being loved and loving in return. I am one of the lucky ones because I still have purpose and believe I can contribute a helping hand to others who battle the toils and tribulations of modern life.
I think my parents would have been pleased that I survived and thrived after they battled so hard to keep me and my siblings’ safe during the Great Depression. My struggles like so many from my age were harsh, unrelenting and cruel beyond measure but I never succumbed to hating mankind only those whose greed and arrogance made life a misery for so many millions of innocent people.
Now, I am in the last years of my life and that is why I shall begin another speaking tour across Britain that will take me to over 50 cities, towns and villages. I want to remind everyone what life was like before the NHS and before the Welfare State because if we don’t remember the past injustices done to ordinary folk, the powers that be will commit them again, except this time it will be upon you and your children.
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February 24, 2014

I am 91 today-The days that are left to me are a precious few. But I am not sad because I have lived in wondrous times. I have experienced both tragedy and joy. I have laughed, I have cried, I have loved. I have lived over nine decades and realize that my long life is both a blessing and an obligation.

I will not forget the forces that forged my soul. I will not forget my mother, my father and their hard unforgiving life of poverty. I will not forget my eldest sister Marion who got no life and died from TB in a work house infirmary. Nor, will I forget my other sister Mary who held my hand through the storms of childhood.

I will not forget where I come from or the inequities that my generation suffered during both the Great Depression and the Second World.

Until the hour glass of my soul is empty, I will hold to the one absolute that has given my life meaning and hope-I have been loved and I have loved in return.

These are the end of my days but I still have much to learn.

I am so humbled by the fact that my book A Letter from Harry is to be published this June, by Icon books.

My race, that I started, so long ago, in Barnsley is almost complete. The finish line is close by but I won't race to it. Instead I will stroll to my end and let the wine of life linger in my mouth. I will savour each day afforded to me.
Cheers,
Harry
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Published on February 24, 2014 20:02 • 1,083 views • Tags: adventure, boyhood, childhood, england, great-britain, hunger, poverty, true-life-story, york, yorkshire

January 15, 2014

Icon Books has bought a book by 91-year-old Second World War RAF veteran, Harry Leslie Smith, called A Letter from Harry: why the world we built is falling down, and what we can do to save it.
Commissioning editor Kate Hewson acquired world rights from Jamie Coleman at Greene & Heaton for an undisclosed sum.
Hewson described the book as "one of the most extraordinary proposals I've seen in my career... This isn’t a collection of quiet ruminations and “in my days…”. Harry is a firebrand of the best possible kind – his writing is at once intensely lyrical and angry, and his voice is as modern and present as any other political writer working today."
She added that A Letter from Harry is "a remarkable rallying cry for us to learn from the mistakes of the past, and build a stronger future".
Harry Leslie Smith, a regular contributor to the Guardian, became a viral sensation in November 2013 when his article for the paper ‘This year I will wear a poppy for the last time’ was shared almost 60,000 times on Facebook. Born in 1923, he is a survivor of the Great Depression, a Second World War RAF veteran and an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy.
Icon will publish A Letter from Harry in June 2014, supported by a "huge" marketing and publicity campaign.
http://www.thebookseller.com/news/ico...
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Published on January 15, 2014 05:26 • 239 views • Tags: banks, books, economy, england, history, london, non-fiction, usa, welfare, ww-2, yorkshire

November 5, 2013

In its customary fashion, November’s arrival was heralded by a shower of cold rain that fell down onto Halifax’s cobbled streets like shrapnel from a coal black sky. It was a sunless, hopeless month where daylight was a reluctant visitor. When we were fortunate enough to witness the sun’s appearances; it was a sad spectacle and Friede remarked “that it was like watching a candle flicker because it was running out of wax.”

As the sun diminished inch by inch that month, my spirit began to taper from the lack of light and the desperation of finding that one day led to another that was exactly the same as the last. The only element of my work day that I relished was the end of my shift at Macintosh’s. At half four, I crossed the factory’s gates with a hundred or so other labourers who were bundled up against the cold like me. The noise from our boots crushing against the stone pavement reminded me of the weary sound of soldiers returning to base from a long march. We all looked the same in our workmen’s jackets, caps and scarves which were either grey or in the colour of our favourite football club. There was the smell of tobacco the stuck like treacle to the outside air as worker after worker sparked up a cigarette and exhaled dirty smoke.

By the time we’d reach the end of the road way the stream of workers divided and subdivided as they rushed to catch buses to their homes. Not one of us looked back to the looming brick monolith where we had toiled since sun up. We were like caribou migrating to their winter grazing grounds who stared straight ahead in the direction of food and rest.

Through the course of that month, Guy Fawkes was the only night when Halifax appeared festive, warm and accommodating. For one short night we were granted an ephemeral camaraderie with strangers, neighbours or family while we commemorated a centuries old thwarted conspiracy against the crown.

Friede was amazed at the scene that for the uninitiated resembled something akin to a mob riot. “It looks like they want to burn down the neighbourhood,” Friede remarked.

“This is all in good fun, a way for the young ones to blow off steam, I said. When I was a lad, we’d spend days collecting wood for the fires that were lit for the Guy Fawkes celebration and sometimes we’d fight other children from different streets for the best piece of timber for our bonfire.”

“It is a strange celebration,” Friede concluded.

I laughed and said “I think it is one of our best. Guy Fawkes celebrates not only death of a traitor but gives two fingers back at the winter to come. Everyone that is out tonight looks happy and I know it might be beer in their bellies which gives their cheeks a rosy hue. But at least for this short time, people feel like they belong to a community. Better still, they can toss all their anger towards, their bosses, the government or their spouses onto the fire and say cheerio.”

A couple of days after the fiery celebration, it was evident that winter was coming. I smelt it in the outside air; I saw it on the pessimistic expressions of people on the street. It was everywhere except on the Advertisements that covered the sides of the local buses. The cold gloom was at our boarder while hope, joy and optimism readied themselves for hibernation.

There was nothing we could do to prevent the frost, the inhospitable temperatures or the sunless days but bundled ourselves up in our winter coats, light a cigarette and take refuge in a cinema and watch the latest flick from America. If we felt sufficiently flush or down in the dumps, we found a pub that had an abundant supply of fuel and song to make us feel warm in the company of fellow lost souls.
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Published on November 05, 2013 05:21 • 594 views • Tags: bonfire, bonfire-night, england, families, guy-fawkes, halifax, history, labour, love, memoir, pubs, war, yorkshire

August 14, 2013

Jack Common

Born: August 15, 1903, Heaton, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Died: January 20, 1968, Newport Pagnell, United Kingdom
Books: Kiddar's Luck

Jack Common and I never met in life, although we shared a great many similar early life experiences. Both of us were fully fledged members of the working class, knew extreme poverty, heart ache and hungered for a better education than was afforded to us.

I came to know Jack Common’s writing when most of the storms of my youth had subsided. I regret that I was not introduced to him sooner because Common’s most famous work Kiddar’s Luck depicts a hard scrabble time in Edwardian Tyneside that evokes my own childhood twenty years later in Depression ravaged Yorkshire.

The era that Common wrote about may seem to a modern reader to be as ancient and distant as Dickens’s Pickwick papers but I can assure you that Kiddar’s Luck is still redolent because poverty today is just as much a scourge as it was in early twentieth century Britain. Moreover, I think Jack Common would have been sorely disappointed in the twentieth first century because despite all its progress there is still a great divide between the have and the have nots.

As Jack Common’s 110th birthday comes to pass, we should pause and remember a man who believed in the dignity of the working class and strove to illuminate through his professional writing the hardships faced by so many in this country.

He was a man who wasn't afraid to fight against injustice, enjoyed a good smoke, a pint of beer and a good laugh. His life wasn't easy but he bequeathed to future generations his indomitable spirit which modern day working class activist can emulate.

I lament that Jack Common and I never crossed paths but I think if we had, it would have been a fine friendship. So, as a casual contemporary of Jack Common, on the day of his birth, I will raise my glass and use his own famous words as a toast: “First we start with a handshake.”
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Published on August 14, 2013 10:41 • 485 views • Tags: activism, britain, england, george-orwell, great-depression, jackcommon, newcastle, poverty, writers

July 26, 2013

For over 2000 years, the Christian church, in its many forms has preached, preyed and pontificated that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man can enter heaven. So it came as some surprise to me that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has decided to join forces with Britain’s Credit Unions to directly compete against Pay Day loan companies, whose client base is a who’s who of society’s unfortunates: the poor, the chronically ill, the mentally ill, the young, the disadvantaged and credit damaged individuals.

At first glance, it would be easy for one to be cynical and say that the Anglican Church is just following the old High Street motto “if you can’t beat em join em,” especially after it was learned that the C of E had an indirect investment in Wonga. However, if one ignores the moral quick sand that the Church invariably always likes to stand on, it is clear that pay day loan companies cause more damage than good to those who need a bit of the ready before Friday’s pay packet. In 2012, 8.2 million pay day loans were taken out across Britain by individuals seeking short term loans without the need for scrupulous credit checks. According to Citizens Advice recent survey of 780 clients of pay day loans, it appeared the industry was targeted adults below the age of 18, individuals too intoxicated to make a rational decision or people with mental illness.

Moreover, the underemployed and underpaid are also seduced by TV advertisements that employ benevolent puppets, enticing tag lines and the impression that borrowing from them is not only simple it is cool and painless. Being in hock to a company like Wonga that made a whopping £62.4 before taxes, from short term loans in 2011 maybe effortless and relatively inexpensive if you can meet your obligations because to borrow £90 for three days is an affordable £8.37. However, if you can’t fulfil this poor man’s bargain with Faust, they’ll get more than your soul because they are going to take you to the cleaners. The devil as they say is in the details and a pay-day loan client because of desperation, an inadequate understanding of the long and brutal history of usury will roll over a debt because other financial obligations from food to rent prevent them from paying it back on time.
Once a client has rolled over his debt, he literally has rolled himself into a gold goose for these pay-day loan companies because APR’s can range as high as 5,853% with a company such as Wonga. It is no wonder that last year over 20,000 called the National debt line about problems arising from taking out a pay-day loan because they enslave the borrower to the repaying an endless merry go round of interest on a loan’s principal.

However, for the Anglican Church to think that the answer to emancipate those caught in pay day loan purgatory is to allow Credit Unions to establish themselves on Church property is either naive or financial chutzpah. A credit union blessed by the church is going to be no different than a bank on the High Street when it comes to granting loans to individuals. The people who enter into a relationship with a predatory pay day loan company do so because the banks and the credit card companies have already rejected them as a risky venture. These people carry the scarlet letter of bad or poor credit because of a variety of reasons but mainly because they are underpaid or underemployed or lack financial literacy. It is foolish to think that a credit union will be any more willing to extend credit to these people than a mainstream financial institution. A credit union maybe a non- for- profit entity but they don’t operate like a food bank and dole out loans like bread. A Credit union adheres to the same economic law as Banks and Pay Day Loan Company’s which is to protect their bottom and avoid risk. Placing them on church property will only benefit the coffers of the diocese while the most helpless-those who need more than spiritual comfort will be compelled to avail themselves of the services of pawnbrokers and short term lenders.

Still, we must not be too quick to judge the church- even if they have had 2000 years to work out the poverty trap conundrum because at least their heart if not their wallets is in the right place. Establishing credit unions on Church property maybe just an Anglican version of cloud seeding; so, at least if rain must fall; it won’t don’t it on Sunday. But there is one proposal from the Archbishop of York which just might alleviate Britain’s downtrodden. The Right Reverend Dr John Sentamuu is chairing a yearlong commission regarding the feasibility of Britain creating a living wage for all adult citizens. In truth, this is a proposal that needs serious consideration because if every citizen was guaranteed the right to be protected from the indignity and the waste of poverty, we might finally create a society that is progressive and profitable for everyone and not just those that can accumulate wealth by increasing the ledgers of debt upon the destitute.
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Published on July 26, 2013 06:43 • 763 views • Tags: archbishop-of-canterbury, archbishop-of-york, church-of-england, economy, great-britain, pay-day-loans, poverty, wonga

May 28, 2013

From my pay packet I was able to put a few shillings aside until I had enough money to buy a used bike. It was a heavy and ponderous contraption with a chain that was reluctant to remain in gear. For me, however, the bike was as noble and as graceful as Alexander the Great’s Bucephalus because it allowed me to escape into the country on my days off from work.

On one Sunday, I peddled as hard as I could to put as much distance between me and my mother and the crowded, dingy tenement that I shared with her and the rest of my unhappy family. I rode until I found a lonely meadow that possessed an oak tree and where the only noise I heard was from the wind walking through the tall grass.

Resting against the tree’s trunk, I ate a picnic lunch that consisted of a sandwich an apple and a hot flask of tea. In-between bites of my sandwich, I daydreamed about my future and wondered what would happen to me when I grew older. I recited romantic poetry to myself and pretended that there was a beautiful woman beside me who adored me and thought my voice was sweeter than honey. As I packed up my belongings, I resolved to ride my bike, on the following weekend, to the medieval city of York that was located twenty miles north from my disfigured neighbourhood.

For an entire week in-between school and work, I studied maps in the library. I plotted my course and the exact time I should leave. I purchased puncture kits for my worn tires, which I knew would face much abuse on the journey. I bought a new satchel to hold a rain coat, my thermos, and sandwiches.

On the following Sunday, before anyone else had stirred from bed, I ate a hurried breakfast and wrote a note to Mary that told her not to worry because I had gone on a trip and would be back late in the day. When I pushed off on my bike from King Cross I felt like Charles Lindbergh when he departed New Jersey to fly solo across the Atlantic.

The route I chose avoided Bradford and Leeds, as I feared heavy traffic and unwieldy lorries. Instead, I utilized country lanes and a secondary dual carriageway. Before long, I realized that my chosen path to the ancient city was through some of the hilliest and bent roads designed by man. My tires punctured every half hour, and I was more often at the side of the road repairing my bike.

When a rain shower turned into a downpour, I took cover underneath an elderly roadside tree and ate my lunch. I began to doubt myself and cursed my arrogance at attempting this stupid venture. Turning back was not possible, as I was past the halfway mark to York and it was now closing in on noon. Eventually, the storms passed and the skies returned to a greyish blue. I folded up my raincoat and stored it back in my bag. I mounted my rickety bike and pushed upwards to the city.

By two o'clock, I was on the outskirts of York and I saw the spires of the Minster towered before me. They were a fulcrum in the landscape and since the 12th century, the tallest structure for a hundred miles around the city. I pedalled my bike to the city’s main entrance at Bothan Bar and walked underneath its stone ceiling. I saw the slits cut into the masonry, where archers defended the city in the 1300s. I pushed my bike up through the shambles, where hawkers battled to grab my attention to their stalls filled with all types of meat, cheese, fruit, or sweets. Their shouts implored me to come over and see their fresh produce, the best apples, and the most magnificent pies or jam. The shambles was like a Moroccan bizarre that took me on a long, winding, incoherent ascent to the cathedral. Suddenly, out of the shadows of the vendors the roadway parted and uncovered a wide expanse.

Finally, the second largest medieval cathedral in northern Europe was exposed to me. It stood like a colossus, powerful and silent as the sphinx. The sun draped down and swept around its peak and fell across the stained glass windows. To my left was part of the old Roman road constructed by legionnaires of Caesar Claudius. A thousand years ago, that road would have stretched to London in the south and to Hadrian’s Wall in the north. Above me, the bells pealed, announcing the passing of the quarter hour.

I had no love of religion or the cold-hearted, cruel, impiety of the nuns and the priests that I had encountered at school. I had no affection for my church or respect for the celibate hypocrites who doled out physical punishments for my alleged imperfections as a Christian. I had no devotion to a Church that employed sadism to subvert its flock into meek obedience. Yet, while I walked through the majestic silence of the Minster, its life stretching back to the Dark Ages in the 600s, I felt the magnetic draw of open and honest belief. I perceived the majesty, the solemn beatitude this cathedral held over life in Yorkshire for close to 1500 years. I felt reverence for the workers, the stone masons, the carvers, the glazers who had toiled in creating such a wondrous place. I felt awe at the simple and great lives that had passed through this cathedral, held together by a belief in a higher authority I no longer accepted.

I had grown up in cramped, damp terraced houses that were built as if their inhabitants were livestock. I lived in neighbourhoods where people were forgotten by the government, by the church and were expected to exist without beauty or hope. My people were the ones always promised that if we obeyed, riches in Heaven awaited us. We were told that if we were meek and obedient, paradise awaited us after we had endured all of our earthly trials and tribulations.

However, from that day onward, I knew that I was not going to allow my rough life to define my destiny. I made a vow to myself that the rich and powerful were not going to make me a servant to their desires. I finally understood that I had value because after I’d seen York, I knew I was part of this great tapestry of life, in Northern England.

Looking upwards against the vaulted ceiling and across to the silent saints of the church, I finally knew I had worth. I knew that despite, my family’s lost legacy, my sister’s death, my father’s ruin, my mother’s damaged innocence and my lost childhood that I was not eternally condemned to a life empty of purpose. I realized that the pain and suffering that I endured along with so many in my social class were now like sparks of electricity in my spirit because they energized my determination to break free from my poverty created by an unjust society.
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Published on May 28, 2013 07:20 • 1,595 views • Tags: adventure, boyhood, childhood, england, great-britain, hunger, poverty, true-life-story, york, yorkshire

May 11, 2013

It was a month after my wife’s death, when I found them. They were in her writing desk buried under sheaves of ancient letters and mementos of a well lived life. It was a stack of old Mother’s Day cards, tied together with a string. She kept the cards, I suppose to remember those mothering Sundays, from the first to the last. She wanted to hold onto those moments when her children tried to define their love for her.

I remember cutting the string and examining these ageing fragments of affection to her, from our kids. The cards on the top were handmade and produced when the children were in kindergarten to grade three. They were constructed out of hard crate paper. Their sides were uneven because the craftsmen were not familiar with scissors or straight lines. Each card greeted me with a yellow sun drawn with a thick crayon nub. It shone down onto a pencil sketched stick figure, tagged underneath as Mum.

Some of the children’s earliest demonstrations of love for their mother were decorated with paper mâché tulips or butterflies. Inside, no matter the child, the greeting was the same, I love you Mummy printed in a bold and primitive style. By the middle of the pile, the Mother’s Day cards were no longer handmade but store bought. The front of the cards displayed polished, shots of fresh cut flowers and bold fonts proclaiming For You Mother. The cards’ interiors were as shiny as their exterior and treacle verse slithered down to the bottom of the embossed paper like maple syrup dripping into a bucket. They looked anonymous and mass produced, except for the flash of individuality found at the bottom of the cards: each one had the motif I love you Mum and in our sons’ unique hand writing, their autograph. At the very end of the stack were the Mother’s Day cards from the year of her death. Our children had grown into men but each of their final Mother’s Day cards displayed a love as simple and as direct as the proclamations they made to her in their boyhood.

When my wife died, it came as no surprise to me that our children placed onto her still body, a Mother’s Day card, handmade in their boyhood. It was only natural, that our children didn't want their Mum to feel alone and abandoned while she made her journey to the crematorium. They wanted some part of their hearts to travel with her to her final resting place, amongst the atoms and debris of the expanding cosmos.
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May 2, 2013

It was like the fourth day of creation when my family went to Southport for a day’s adventure, in 1928. To my childish eyes, the world looked like it was in firmament waiting to be formed into a perfect summer’s day. Above me, fat grey clouds floated in the sky like barrage balloons while seagulls darted between them with the deftness of barnstorming pilots. They screeched in pleasure over their acrobatics and command of the world above the land. However, once they spotted my mum, dad, sister and me resting by the sea wall, they spiralled down from the heavens with menace in their thoughts. When they were just above our heads a draft of wind thwarted their attempt at harassment and blew them back towards the horizon.

My mother raised her fist at the birds and dared them to try to lay a finger on her, while I caused her more consternation by laughing at her vexation. She shooed me away but as I was just a lad of five, I ignored her ill temper and ran in circles around her. I pretended that I was one of those majestic birds that had the gift and freedom of flight.

My mother urged me to pack it in, while my dad told her to steady on and scooped me up into his giant miner’s arms. While I rested on my father’s shoulders, I scanned the deserted beach wet from rain. The sand stretched to what I thought was forever but in the distance, I heard the wash of the tide and an echo of a merry go round that was situated on a promenade that was far away from us.

“Smell the air lad and remember how fresh it tastes” he said as a reminder to me that our sojourn to the Channel coast was to be brief. It was our tuppence holiday because a day trip to the beach was all my dad could afford that year on his miner’s wages. The brevity of our visit didn’t matter to me because it was the grandest adventure I’d ever experienced. Besides, the coast seemed exotic to me, after being born and bred in the drudgery of our soot, swept mining village.

Suddenly, my sister said to my father, just as a heavy gust of wind blew grit into our eyes. “Where is it then, this sea you promised?”

My mother concurred; “if we’d gone to Blackpool there’d be more than water to look at, there’d be as much amusement as a day in Aladdin’s cave.”

But I held fast to my father’s dogged trek through the cold August sand. “It’s all right Da you’ll show them, won’t ya.”

“That’s right lad,” said my father optimistically, “it’s not much further. Don’t you fret we well be knee deep in the English Channel, just like I promised you all.”

So with me riding like a young prince on top of my father’s shoulders and my mother and sister in pessimistic tow; we walked on top of Southport’s damp sand and followed a strong scent of salt and fish towards open water.

My sister, abruptly, ran out in front of my father and me. She cried out to our dad in a voice that knows she is loved but still questions whether she could be loved more than anyone else. “What about me,” she pleaded “why can’t I ride up high.”

“Because you are older lass and your brother’s legs are not as strong as yours,” he said trying to console her. “Why can’t you carry us both,” she responded defiantly.

“Would that I could, but I just don’t have the strength to lug both of you about” he said to her in with an element of melancholy in his voice. It was as if he knew that he was growing old and that his health was starting to fail him. Somehow in his cadence was an acknowledgement that there might come a day when he wouldn’t be able to earn a living and provide for his family.

What my father didn’t know was that his time as a miner, as a labourer and a mechanism in the great engine of British industry was nearly finished. In less than a year he’d be out of work along with millions of other men. The destruction of so many lives, futures, hopes, dreams or basic ability to sustain oneself occurred when the bubbles burst in the world’s financial markets. Stock markets crashed and the calming words of bankers and industrialists were found to be as worthless as the bonds they had printed to finance their splendid lives. Civilization had been swindled and a whole generation of men were made redundant, impoverished, homeless and destitute.

Yet, on that day at Southport, the Great Suffering and sadness of the Great Depression was only a storm gathering strength far out from land. My dad might have heard the sound of thunder in the distance but he chose to ignore it. He chose to concentrate on providing a little happiness for our first and only family holiday. He preferred to march to the shores of the English Channel like King Canute. When we reached the edge of our island; he took me down from his shoulders and held my hand and said “Remember it well, lad for there is nothing like a day a beach.” He grew quiet and by this time my mother and sister had joined us. Silently, my family watched the white caps rage on top of an angry sea.
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Published on May 02, 2013 06:21 • 2,187 views • Tags: austerity, bank-holiday, childhood, economy, england, great-britain, history, holiday, hunger, lancashire, mining, poverty, sea, southport, welfare, yorkshire