Some of the content in this blog might be upsetting.
Sunday June 10th I was a volunteer at the Cardiff Processions 2018. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote. It was a beautiful warm, wall to wall sunshine day, parked the car off Sloper road and made my way to Cardiff City football ground. I remember the old ground Ninnion Park and where I watched many a game down the Grange end and nicked in a few times too. On the day I met some lovely people Suzanne, Sian, Evelyn, Irene, Pat, and John. The person in charge of the volunteers, was the beautiful and quirky Lorena Rodriguez. Lorena came from Spain and she was inspiring, she never stopped smiling or working from the time I arrived 9am to the time I left 4-45pm. At 11am, Cardiff Cities new football ground soon began to fill up with laughter, chatter and the colours of purple, green and white. Purple represented loyalty & dignity, white for purity and green for hope.
a photo of me and some of the volunteers before the march.
In 1918 Emmeline Pankhurst leader of the Suffragette and others, achieved the vote for women over 30, In 1928 it was extended to 21. I am Welsh and Irish and on the Welsh side of my family, I could not find any radicals only myself. Yet, in Welsh history, I found Amy Dillwyn a Welsh Industrialist, novelist and author of “Rebecca Rioter” Rachel Barrett Editor, Political organiser, Elizabeth Andrews, was the first woman organiser of the Welsh Labour party. No doubt you the reader will know more Welsh woman heroines.
My Radical Irish Side. However, on my Irish side my Grandmother Margaret (Maggie) and her sister Christina (Chrissy) were both radicals fought in the 1913 Lockout in Ireland and took part in many dangerous demonstrations, the right to join a Union and against British rule in Ireland. I mention this in my (at the moment unpublished) novel titled “Maggie’s Ireland” I came across Charlotte Despard, Charlotte was President of the Woman’s Freedom League, Woman’s Peace Crusade, and the Irish Franchise Woman’s League. A member of Cumann Na mBan, Pacifist, she refused to become involved in the British recruitment campaign 1914. She was a suffragist, Sinn Fein activist and an Irish republican, novelist. A Socialist and a Labour party member. What a woman what an inspiration too!
Summer of I976, I worked down Bessemer road on a Sunday selling Falmer and Brutus Jeans. One Sunday the Asian owner asked me to go to the back of the van to get more merchandise. In my innocence I did as I was told. He followed me into the dark hot van, that stank of fenugreek and tried to molest me. I punched and kicked him and manage to get out from the van. Fuming I called him a pig and demanded my money for that days work. He threw the £5 note at me and I walked away aged 15 with dignity.
Out Maggie, out, out!
I voted for the first time in May 1979 and I voted Labour, Maggie Thatcher got in. However, Callaghan Labour Prime minister at the time, was given a poison chalice from Tory leader Heath and because of this it was so obvious Labour was not going to win the 1979 election. 1980 I marched up to London and took part in “The right to Work March” I was with the NUTGW and Len Murray was our leader, many saw him as weak, I saw him as a gentleman. I can go back further than Len Murray. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I walked the streets of Ely, following George Thomas pushing my brother Sean who was disabled through Duchen Muscular Dystrophy. Shouting “Vote, vote, vote for Georgie Thomas!” The George I knew then was a good man. I was unaware of the betrayal by George Thomas regarding the people of Aberfan and he a son of a Miner too! I remember Aberfan as if it was yesterday. I wrote the poem “Autumn Mist” and read the poem at the Red House, Merthyr on the 50th anniversary of Aberfan. Below my poem.
Above an autumn mist, below slipped away
to a flow slide tsunami.
Springs and streams flooded
the houses and river Taff.
Dividing the village of Aberfan
where the earth moved to bare hands.
Betrayal born of a miner’s son
and robbed by a lord from the national coal board.
Trees bloomed and blossom in the gardens
where class rooms once were.
Lay bare not to be forgotten
seeded fruitful, planted to live on in our hearts.
Mam’s tears, dad’s sighs siblings grow old
yet they will remain forever young.
Cannot tolerate any form of unfairness, injustice or racism.
In 1973 I was 12. I flew like the wind out of the school gates, breathlessly I ran to my home. With an envelope in my left fist, inside the envelope was a form for my parents to sign for me to go on holiday with the school. To exotic France, Belgium and Holland. Holding my breath in excitement I gave the envelope to my parents. My eldest brother by one year went the year before and I was so enthralled by the stories he told. I stood in front of my parents, what seemed like hours but only seconds and then my mother spoke “No you cannot go” My heart stopped beating but my mouth was not closed.”Why?” I pleaded. Then my father spoke “Because you are a girl” “Yea and what as that got to do with going away with the school?” “We cannot afford for you to go” I shouted “This is unfair if one child can go all the children can go” I stormed into the bedroom I shared with my three siblings swallowed my bitter, salt tears and wished for a modern thinking Mam.
In 2009 I organised a bike ride for charity from Caerphilly to Cardiff docks. The bike ride was along the Taff Trail. There were 30 of us, 20 were children. As we got to Canton bridge I cycled behind the group, in the distance on Taff embankment, I saw a black bag billowing and I thought how strange there is no wind. As I drew near I could see it was a Somali woman wearing a Niqab she was astride a young boy. The boy was her son and he was having a fit, and no one stopped to ask why? The woman who was evidently in a crisis was being ignored. I stopped the bike and shouted to the others to stop. I went to the woman who needed help. I soothed and made calm the boy who was about 16, he came to with serenity and grace and looked into my light eyed face and I asked him if he was okay, he nodded yes. We found out the woman lived near and a family member came to help. I was sickened by the lack of empathy and compassion for the Somali woman and the boy.
Summer of 1999 Cardiff, 3 months earlier I was voted in as a Labour councillor. I was at a Bryan Adams concert with two friends from work. It was a glorious warm sunny late afternoon not a cloud in the sky. We made our way to the Castle grounds, inside was a sea of colourful people, laughter hung in the air. It was hour and half before Bryan Adams would be on the stage. I left my friends and wondered to the stage area and was caught up in an innocent brawl. A young dark-haired woman who was drunk accused me of jumping in front of her. I disagreed with her but unbeknown to me she knew the male event security guard. Suddenly I was pulled over the metal barrier by the over weight thug. I was fuming at the injustice and refused to move. I stayed put arguing my case at the unfairness of it all. A tall over 6 ft police officer with white blond hair, muscled bound physic, shouted at me to leave the premises. I refused he grabbed my 5 ft 4 inch and size 14 body from behind twisted my hands and hand cuffed me. The pain was awful it seared through my fingers pain and wrists. I wanted to be sick and use the loo at the same time. Then this brute of a police officer threw me in the back of a police van. I fell in face down and could not get up, he left me there in the heat for 20 minutes knowing I could not get up. Then the van moved and I was taken to Cardiff main police station at the Civic centre. There is video footage of me being taken out of the police van, I am very distressed but worse was yet to come. I am pleading for the handcuffs to be taken off me and wanting to go home. I have never ever been in trouble with the police before and did not know the procedure. The hand cuffs were taken off my blood-red stained hands. I looked deeply distressed and I was wearing green cotton shorts, white tee-shirt and walking boots. I was searched by a young female police officer and then a photo was taken of me, later I was put in a cell and the door locked. There is video footage of me still wearing my walking boots, hysterical, crying pleaded for the door to be left open because I suffer with claustrophobia. There is video footage of the door being flung open and four police officer beating me. Today 23rd of June midday 2018 I still cannot connect with the horrific video of me being beaten I am so traumatized I cannot remember. I was left in a bad way but still found the strength to plead my innocence. After 2 hours the door was finally open by police staff not a police officer. I was accused of beating 4 police officers up and for violent behavior at the Bryan Adams concert. I did not know about the video at the time and I pleading not guilty even though I could not remember what the police did to me. I had the bruising, broken finger, battered and bruised body as proof. After being released I went to my own local GP, a lovely Indian doctor, who broke down in tears at my physical and mental being. I later went to the hospital and at the hospital, a white Welsh doctor said “Don’t tell me I know who did this the police!” Three months later I was at the magistrate court, off Newport road and where I pleading not guilty to beating up four police officers and violent behaviour at the concert and I was still unaware of the video. A friend of mine and John’s ex CID, told be there were camara’s at Cardiff central police station. We got hold of the footage and I watched in horror at a 38-year-old woman being beaten and did NOT register that it was me. It took me 2 years to clear my name and one by one the police officers dropped their charges, they only person who did not drop the charges was a female security guard, not the male thug who pulled me over the barriers but a woman who I do not remember ever seeing at the concert. My case was adjourned 3 times, my main witness was sent home and then later the court went on with out my main witness. The police brought in a male barrister, and with dignity, honesty and grace I floored the barrister (May I add not physically) The police on that night did not listen to me pleading my innocence and they knew I did not have a police record. Why did you not let me go? Why was I beaten and locked up for no reason? I survived 1999 and went on to see Bryan Adams at a later date. I am still deeply scarred by the experience and have no respect for the police.
2003 I resigned as a Labour party Councillor over the invasion of Iraq. I stood alone at my local Labour branch and Caerphilly County Borough Labour Party too. To this day some Labour party people still do not speak to me.
I took part in the Syria march in Cardiff I was next to a Muslim woman who wore a Hijab we were walking down Mill lane passing a crowd of national front racist, one threw a pint glass full of larger at the Muslim woman but it went over me. I reacted angrily and called the ignorant thug a racist pig, later I was interviewed and on the news. The ignorant thug and others were arrested and sentenced.
I marched against Racism, against the invasion of Iraq, against invasion of Syria and marched for politics and peace.The march on June 10th, I was a volunteer not a marcher and I enjoyed every part. I stood at the corner of Sloper road, to guide the procession onto Leckwith Road. I raised my voice and said to the women, children and some men. “Breathe deep and become beautiful “The response was wonderful. Many were dressed up just like Suffragette’s, others in flamboyant costumes, girls on roller blades, babies wearing the rosette of the suffragette and men took part too. I saw people who recognised me and I saw others I knew among the purple, white and green. We ending this historical march at Bute park and I sat among a sea of humanity tired but filled with joy!
Photo of me and some of us volunteers at the end of a wonderful day.
Lorena sent us all a thank you. Thank you!
Saturday June 16th I read poetry with the Red Poets at the “Hope not Hate” demo at Merthyr town centre. It rained, Mike Jenkins played the mouth organ. One bloke complained about us being loud so we became louder! I am on the right and the only woman again!
There are two things that I find abhorrent, indifference and to know the truth and hide behind concealment.
Remember breathe deep and become beautiful.