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Bill Stickers and the Ferguson Gang

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:46 pm    Post subject: Bill Stickers and the Ferguson Gang Reply with quote

"I done wot I could while I could." - BILL STICKERS

I've decided to stick this under ' propoganda ' because the following documentary recently broadcast by the BBC has reminded me of the sort of thing that I favour most - that earnest argument is rather dull and humour often makes people think more about a thing because they remember the joke. Given that Repwblic has recently been got at for mocking the Treason Felony Act 1848 by the Western Mail, the notional newspaper of Western England, which represented Leanne Wood and Bethan Jenkins as supposedly taking a bizarre oath ( Yr Ardystiad ) upon the 1792 and 1949 Trilliw it is well to remember the Ferguson Gang's actual bizarre oaths uttered over millstones which dedicated them to supporting the National Trust.

In fact the BBC actually invited a member of ' The Ferguson Gang ' into Broadcasting House in London to broadcast a rallying call for the National Trust whilst wearing a mask : it makes me wonder if that is where I went wrong when I was invited onto a BBC Wales TV panel that had about forty people on it discussing Prince Charles and I had to sit through a load of pretentious twaddle portrayed as ' Republican ' sentiment and yet being the only genuine Republican there Huw Edwards pointedly never pointed the microphone at me. The studio floor manager insisted on me removing my ' REPWBLIC ' lapel badge claiming its plastic to be too shiny and I doubt therefore whether Huw Edwards knew that somebody had let a real one in ... I very nearly did not get in but that Republic's Suzanne Campbell contrived it and used her time up in listing nearly every damaging fact that she could think of about Prince Charles ... my own attitude is of course that there will always be people richer than myself and I am not going to waste time on the politics of envy or hatred. There are always going to be people richer than me using their unusual share in our society's wealth responsibly : if you understand that what you have access to is not of your own creation but collectively made by our society and you use what you have for society's benefit then you are a Republican in my book. Perhaps if I had anticipated that the usual would happen and the Republican point of view misrepresented I might have done something mischevious like put a ski-mask on and play up to the BBC's prejudices and excite Huw Edward's attention ... I might even have got to say something then to confound the BBC's deliberate ignorance ?



Clough Williams-Ellis most well known work used to be " The Slum on Snowden " which has mercifully for his reputation now been removed, but for the sake of puzzled foreigners I would direct you to watch the 1960's surreal Cold War spoof spy series " The Prisoner " which was filmed at the then little known village-hotel that he created in Portmeirion as an essay in architecture. His book ' England and the Octopus ' London, Geoffrey Bles (1928) was apparently of broad appeal, later even influencing Prince Charles' experiment in ' Poundbury ' I believe ( who is himself probably our foremost and most active republican in Wales, least ways his opinionating undermines the Welsh establishment and really pisses off the crachwyr ! )



OUCH !!!! - http://www.amazon.co.uk/England-Octopus-Clough-Williams-Ellis/dp/0946044503/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364256354&sr=1-1

CHEAPER - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Architect-Errant-Clough-Williams-Ellis/dp/0216910234/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364256354&sr=1-8




Last edited by dai on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:23 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah - ' BILL STICKERS WILL BE PROSECUTED " - threatening posters like this were to be seen all across the decreasingly green and increasingly dreary Kingdom of England of the years between World War One and Two ( which at that time still included Wales, since the crachwyr had flogged off the remnants of the Principality to Parliament in 1624 in the hope of getting rid of the gormless idle gibbering idiots that went with it too who stubbornly continued to refuse to believe themselves to be English.) ( Eventually the English became utterly fed up with the deal and insisted on the crachwyr taking their Welsh people back, so at the present moment we're just arguing over whether we can have our Principality back too ... with or without the prince ! ) A Marion made modern, Bill Stickers was finally officially "outed", in an obituary in the Times in 1996, when she died aged 93 : she was Dr Margaret Steuart Pollard, a brilliant Sanskrit scholar, Cornish bard, historian and a great-niece of Gladstone. "She was a force," says her friend Claire Riche. "Incredibly eccentric - most adults were frightened of her. She could also make you feel as if you were the most important person in the world."



" The notoriety of Ferguson's Gang was matched only by their generosity, says Sue Herdman ... they were the faces behind a mysterious masked band of philanthropists who had taken to making sudden and startling appearances at the headquarters of the National Trust with sacks of money and clear instructions to direct the funds to particular causes. ... led by the indomitable Bill Stickers, supported by, among others, Sister Agatha, Red Biddy, 'Erb the Smasher, See Mee Run, Gerry Boham and their spiritual head, the Right Bludy the Lord Beershop (or Bishop) of the Gladstone Islands & Mercator's Projection ... Masks for raids on the Trust were usually purchased at Harrods, while food was also paramount: servings of pheasant, duck, lobster, figs with cream and fine champagne were all recorded in the Boo. But behind the laughter was a serious cause. The gang, all hugely educated and well connected, were followers of the architect Clough Williams-Ellis, whose 1927 book England and the Octopus lamented the sprawl of post-First World War urban development. ... There was no actual Ferguson, although a male friend occasionally assumed his identity. It was he who made an inspirational BBC radio broadcast on behalf of the gang in 1935, appearing in the studio in dinner jacket and mask."

Note - these are not to be regarded as members of the crachwyr - their Fortnum and Mason's hampers were not paid for by poor people's taxes ... no snouts in our trough !
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote





"Every tradition was once an innovation and every antique a red-hot artifact," Margaret Pollard wrote in 1947, in Cornwall, her book about her adoptive area ... Illustrated by Sven Berlin, Cornwall remains a period piece of post-war Cornwall, before massive changes destroyed its individualistic and idiosyncratic past ... She ends the book with an exhortation: "Bedheugh bynatha Kernewek" - "Be forever Cornish". ... In 1938, Pollard had become a Cornish-language bard, a member of the Cornish Gorsedd, who gather to celebrate the culture of Cornwall and act to protect its linguistic and cultural traditions. ... Pollard published Bewnans Alysaryn in 1941, a pastiche on the ancient Cornish Miracle Plays, one of the main sources for modern Cornish. Carader, the first Grand Bard, called it an important work in "Dasserghyans Kernewek", the "revival of Cornish". She was also the Gorsedd harpist for many years, playing a small Irish harp. ... Long before Captain Pollard died in 1968, she began giving away her worldly possessions. In old age, she lived cheerfully in one room in happy and what was to her comfortable untidiness. She was still humorous, witty, perceptive, a commentator on the world around her ... [ FROM OBITUARY IN INDEPENDENT - by - Ann Trevenen Jenkin ]

Going back to " Heritage ! " episode 2 about 20 mins in Clough Williams-Ellis, his book and Portmeirion are introduced and Ferguson's Gang follows at 30 mins onwards ... perhaps talk of gerry-built ( ' gerry '= ' irish ' not ' german ' then ) estates in ribbon development sounds a bit like posh people wanting the plebs to stay in their slums, but look at the crummy semi-detached's along most cities inter-war main roads strung out without any shops or focal centres for such communities ... the eighteenth century Chalford Mill in Surrey was where they swore their oaths on the grindstones ... Peggy Pollard was an Amazonian nudist, Erb The Smasher her brother the Old Etonian Robert Gladstone who posed masked as Ferguson for the BBC, the Artichoke and Black Mary were the parents of Joann Bagnall and Penelope Adamson who discuss what they remember. Red Biddy was the daughter of a colonel or a general, very ordinary ... all socialists of course, communists probably - everybody was back then ... OK ... no politics of hate or envy here but I don't get to eat octopus ...


Note the next bit about the decline and destruction of stately homes : the redistribution of money in the economy or at least the near-bankruptcy caused by two world wars that the toffs had expected the rest of us to either die in or pay for afterwards or both meant the end of those country house parties etc ... or maybe that was because cheap air travel, warmer climes and affordable servants made other countries like South Africa more attractive ? It's the age that any Republican in Wales might dream of and wish that we might have had the opportunity that others had to not only blow these things up but to actually be paid for doing so !!! Laughing IT IS A JOKE ! ITS A JOKE ! A JOKE ! C'mon GCHQ - you've got let me crack the occasional risky one.

I suspect that maybe the truth of this is that these things have not changed much : you still have to be an Old Etonian in order to risk making political humour in the United Kingdom and you are never safe enough to surround yourself with such jokes until you are actually Prime Minister.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To explain this business of stately homes to non-UK people, there were always grand houses built by the aristocracy and monarchy and typically they had one located amongst their estates and one in London where they spent more and more of their time as the centuries passed. The expansion of the empire led to the creation of the financial markets providing banking dividends and lucrative insurance policies for those with money derived from their feudal estates to invest and then the industrial revolution led to further investment opportunities for those who had made made money from first of all trading in spices and timber in the colonies and then sugar and cotton in the slave plantations of the empire. It was more a less a sort of money laundering operation throughout in which the furnishings of the great houses were of great opulence and sophistication and aristocrats vied with each other to offer hospitality in the great merchant cities whose wealth was built on oppression, slavery and murder.

The invention of the railway led to the possibility of refurbishing the feudal seats now usually referred to as stately homes and inviting guests to stay which resulted in extravagant building programmes to provide enough accomodation, and newly wealthy industrialists also joined in purchasing older properties or constructing entirely new ones. A further dimension of this was that long distance travel became possible and inspired by the Romantic Movement's depictions of Scotland and Wales these countries became fashionable for their picturesque views and antiquarian sights and historical associations promoted by authors such as Sir Walter Scott and painters such as W Turner who depicted scenes in Wales like Llanthony Priory. These building campaigns often resulted in ambitious optimists taking on large debts on the prospect of future profits.


What people did not want to see were scenes like those at Neath Abbey where industrialisation was taking root within the romantic ruin, because the poverty stricken wretches sweating and breaking their bodies to produce all of the profits that these building campaigns were built upon were not picturesque - and the oppression, slavery and murder that augmented those profits when the products of these wretches were used to propogate the empire did not bear thinking about. These stately homes were of course run by armies of equally wretched but scrubbed up servants who were a reminder of the fact that the lower classes were equally human and this was dealt with by re-fashioning the older houses and building new ones to divide the occasional occupiers from London from any unsettling contact with the staff who were as often as not mostly hired for only a few weeks. When the aristocratic families departed the whole house might be closed up leaving only the gardeners preparing next season's luxury food crops to be grown in the new ' stoves ' - greenhouses heated by coal. Coal was cheap then because the lives of those who dug it were cheap, and these vast barn-like stately rooms required huge amounts to heat.

Poor people's lives were always counted cheap and their lives were so awful that for many of them volunteering for World War One seemed like the opportunity of a life time - and proved to be so. The only thing to be said in its favour was that the sons of rich people felt duty bound to volunteer as well and so few of them came back there was nobody to leave the feudal pile of debt to and the UK government had even had to resort to taxing rich people to pay for the war - both British ones a little bit and German and Austrian ones a lot, with the intention of enslaving the German and Austrian nations economically so they would never start another war ... not a very clever plan, but it had this bonus : poor people in the UK would now have their wages driven back down to the level that they had been before they had formed successful trade unions because British manufacturers would be supplied with cheap German coal and steel ... not a very clever plan either, it led to the General Strike of 1926.

Now in the meantime once the UK had seen what had happened in the USSR and in Italy and Germany and Spain and had realised that they were not invulnerable, they decided upon a council house building programme to replace the slums and started buying up estates outside of cities either by compulsory purchase orders or by acquiring them auctions when those relying on stocks and shares had become bankrupt after the Wall Street Crash - and they even planning whole new towns as well as garden suburbs. Those losing out began to protest in many ways and found common cause with those pleading for access to the countryside itself instead of merely hiking or cycling up and down its roads and lanes. The landowners began generously handing over derelict profitless upland farms and useless buildings too big to repair and received only a few paltry millions in return ... well, no - not so simple but

I was actually thinking of taking Piercefield as an example :


The notable thing about Piercefield besides it actually having been a building worth saving which was not but instead used for target practice ( I thought that they had actually demolished parts of it as unsafe using explosives, perhaps for military practice ) is that it had a coloured owner ( if I can be allowed that term, if that is not ragingly non-PC now a days.)


" In 1802, Wood in turn sold the house and estate to the Mulatto planter Nathaniel Wells, for £90,000 cash. Wells was born in St. Kitts, the son of William Wells a sugar merchant and planter originally from Cardiff, and Juggy, one of his house slaves. With his inherited fortune Nathaniel continued to add to the Piercefield estate until it reached almost 3,000 acres (12 km²). In 1818 he became Britain's only known black sheriff when he was appointed Sheriff of Monmouthshire."


"... In 1802, he bought Piercefield House, Chepstow from Colonel Mark Wood, after agreeing to buy it for £90,000 over dinner. Wells added to Piercefield until it reached almost 3,000 acres (12 km²). Wood stated: "Mr Wells is a West Indian of large fortune, a man of very gentlemanly manners, but so much a man of colour as to be little removed from a Negro." ... "

" ... Wells managed his inherited sugar plantation estates like any other absentee white owner. Wells would have had little control over the way the slaves he owned were treated, as the estates were leased out to local managers. The punishment of slaves by one of these managers was singled out for criticism by abolitionists and became the subject of an abolitionist tract, although it would appear that this was with the tacit consent of Wells, who refrained from suppressing its publication in the Courts. There were only supposed to be 39 lashes administered in a certain period of time, while it was alleged that this manager gave 39 lashes plus a 'brining' - putting pepper water on to those lashes to make the slaves scream. ... He remained a plantation owner and slave owner until emancipation was enacted in St Kitts in 1833, and was compensated financially by HM Treasury."

Now I think that that tells us something about the nature of slavery in the British Empire, but it is curious to ponder simultaneously the nature of racism at the time : is it really only the colour of somebody's money that counts then ?

" ... By 1801, Wells had property worth an estimated £200,000 and was married to the only daughter of Charles Este, a former chaplain to King George II ... Wells seems to have taken a full part in local society. In 1804 he was appointed a churchwarden of St Arvans Church near Piercefield, a position he held for forty years. In 1806 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, whilst in 1832 he was on the committee of the Chepstow Hunt. ... On 24 January 1818 Wells became Britain's first black high sheriff when he was appointed High Sheriff of Monmouthshire by the Prince Regent, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the county ... On 20 June 1820 Wells was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Chepstow Troop of the Yeomanry Cavalry of Gloucestershire and Monmouth. This makes Wells the second black person to be commissioned into the Armed Forces of the Crown and no more black officers are known to have been commissioned until Walter Tull almost one hundred years later ... As Lieutenant Wells, it is recorded that he took part in action against striking coal-miners and iron workers in South Wales in 1822. ... "

Oh. Perhaps then money decides what colours you see other people in ?

" Eventually and in light of his failing health, Wells sold Piercefield to John Russell (1788-1873) in 1850. Wells had been married twice (his second wife was called Esther), and had 22 children. He died in Bath, Somerset in 1852 at the age of 72, worth an estimated £100,000."

( That is probably the equivalent of £100,000,000 in today's terms - I wonder what happened to his many descendents ? Stockbrokers perhaps ? Or just broke like the rest of us stock ? )
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Perhaps I ought to have written a bit about the first episode of this " Heritage ! " documentary as well, but I was thinking in terms of propoganda methods that are lively and entertaining and in particular involve humour and stunts that prove to be memorable. The beginnings of the national heritage movement lay in earnest concerns about the loss of culture in an industrialised society in the broadest sense and here in Wales this was particularly linked to the Welsh language and native Welsh culture being overlaid by the impact of the cultural products and influences of the English language and culture. The English awareness of loss of culture still lags behind that in Wales and arguably only came to the fore when Americanish language and culture began to make serious inroads through literature and in particular music and films which have effectively displaced English ones. The fact that Americanishesese were literally seizing English buildings and transferring them to America came to prominent awareness amongst the English when they discovered that all of the traffic in London had ground to a halt one day the morning after the Prime Minister of the day had failed to understand what the American ambassador had meant when he invited him to play a game of bridge -


Now the original heritage movement involved a lot of radical activists like William Morris, Octavia Hill and Robert Hunter but also thoughtful academics like Pitt-Rivers and Gerald Brown : creative and original people given to artistic and intellectual sensibilities and doubtless equally possessed of equally eccentric senses of humour for their day but as Victorians very vexed vhen voluably vaunting variously valiant voluntary vernacular vorks' verisimilitudes in organisations like SPAB ...













Note that one of the first Commissioners for Ancient Monuments was a Lord Plymouth who was mayor of Cardiff 1895-6 and FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE CONCRETE INSTITUTE - I'M ACTUALLY REALLY IMPRESSED BY THAT - AND A SUPPORTER OF CRYSTAL PALACE - I'M LESS IMRESSED BY THAT - and a load of other aristocratic sorts of things besides, but I will pass over those in favour of the fact that in 1905 he was created Viscount Windsor of St Fagans and Earl of Plymouth and then buried under heaps of ermine and weighed down with chains of office he finally expired and in passing his debts on to his son I suppose when the second Earl of Plymouth died he left the St Fagans estate to the National Museum of Wales which is now our most popular heritage attraction ... ( thank you Ivor and Other.) At least I think that I got that right ... peerages I find utterly mind boggling and mystificatory ... but who could do without them, eh ? Probably the people lumbered with them I think because they become the subject of other people's fantasies ...







Anyway, let's try and get back on track here with the third episode which features the period after World War Two in which John Betjeman was wrestling poetically with Hugh Casson's brutal attitude whilst Nick Pevsner joined in the fight with them, although sometimes they were also at peace with each other and willing to fight planners instead in order to save the Victorian architecture that the real Victorians had tried to stop being built and had wanted to tear down again ... but lordy lordy these publicly spirited intellectual giants of creative genius only got one knight's work each for their titanic cultural efforts - they would have been better off pursuing careers as second hand car salesmen, surely ? Perhaps if anybody bothered to pack the House of Lords with either you might be able to buy a decent car or well designed house in this country for a reasonable price ?







Some things that we might learn by analogy between the architectural heritage business and the political heritage business is to disregard the idea of there being a proper republican image : anybody going into the stately home of Welsh Government should have the opportunity to buy yesterday's jam tomorrow, of taking home a souvenir tea-towel in the hope that their local politicos may dry up, or of having the opportunity to see their national politicians feed the lions. There could be local novelties like Welsh Government pencils without any erasers, kites to fly in assorted colours, joke items like ' A Round Tuit ' and of course all sorts of mugs could have slogans applied to them. Welsh Assembly post cards would probably be rather dull though, since we are only going to be allowed to publish one view of it, but our native Welsh confectionaries like rhubarb and mustard, liquidised all-sorts and minted imperials should still be as perennially and equally popular as the English humbugs which are of course always very popular with Welsh AM's and MP's. Unfortunately I believe that we will never to be able to find out where the hundreds and thousands and millions can now be sourced to stock this sweet counter. Welsh Political jigsaws are ofcourse already popular with those who like trying to make out what the pictures are with just too few pieces available, but we do not have anything to offer really in the line of cuddly toys besides Elin Jones and Carl Sargeant since William Powell jumped on the conveyor belt and sold out. The collection of children's stories that we might have expected to be popular have proven to be a disaster but perhaps we might elicit from those ex AM's and MP's like Ron Davies who now have time on their hands some of their more adult fictions or their more personal reminscences, their tales of mystery and suspense or of their novel crimes and horrors.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never got to see the end of the documentary for the sake of indulging my sweet tooth ... but I now propose a new plan for the next phase of Republican activity in Wales based upon the method employed by Bill Stickers and The Ferguson Gang : we raise huge sums of money by begging it from all over and we pack it into big bags which we take to the Welsh Assembly in order to hurl them at Assembly Members until they do as we please, whilst disguising ourselves with masks and making our incognito communications with them beforehand using false identities - what do you think ?

The only flaw in this plan is that they absolutely and resolutely continue to refuse to deal with us in any way as far as I understand it, they just do not want to admit that there are any Republicans in Wales ...

P.S. - ' Heritage ' episode 3 goes on to explain how Margaret Thatcher could only meet the insatiable demand for nostalgia, which had out-stripped the supply of stately homes, by coming up first of all with the idea of rural working class heritage then industrial working class heritage - but despite ruining thousands of farming communities and industrial communities the Conservatives still could not keep up with demand nor could the Labour Party after them so they chose to ruin the whole country except the City of London but unfortunately this plan foundered upon the rock of the nostalgia that gritty Northern English folk feel for their own money which compels them to keep taking it out of the bank to look at it in order to reassure themselves that they are not living in a bad dream ... perhaps this idea of dedicating the whole of our surplus economic activity towards investing in the future of our society instead of its past will finally catch on and we will no longer have maintain Wales as a costly ruin in order to obtain a steady stream of grants and visitors to live off ... hey - lets do a flashmob to publicly demonstrate the idea of our simply removing some part of our heritage whose costly maintenance is consuming our resources to live and the means to give ourselves a future in favour of the chronic celebration of mostly imagined past lives eating up Wales' resources - let us all turn up with hammers and demolish ... something ... er ... easy ... that can be done quickly or it will not be a flash-mob ... it obviously can not require scaffolding ... no explosives, we can not allow such frivolity on such occasions - this has to be done as an expression of serious intent with people purposefully showing their faces - and carving their names !!! Yes - that is it ! Good old fashioned roman GRAFFITI as scrawled by the best of them upon every ancient monument in Wales - hell - some of our most ancient monuments are nothing but graffiti ! Perhaps a flash-mob who can abseil and who are trained as proper free-masons could adorn each of those white portland civic stone halls with some sort of unforgettable words like ' TRY WEARING A REPUBLIC ! ' or ' COFFI O CYMRU ? '



You know it's a terribly disappointing job playing the pretended role of the Jewish tart for Republicanism in Wales ...

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