Friday, 4 March 2011

A field student searches for a fact

I’m approaching the gruesome climax of David Peace’s, GB84, (faber and faber). Peace tells a story of the 1984 miners’ strike through fictitious characters (Arthur Scargill aka ‘The President’, David Hart aka ‘The Jew’) portrayed in an episodic and parallel manner. It’s in part an imaginative account of intertwining venal, devious and callous motives which manifest in instances of extreme violence, of which there are many legacies. How do I know there is a gruesome climax?
I have not enjoyed the author’s writing style or the interrupted narratives. A few weeks ago I flicked to and read the final chapter and so decided I would still stick with it, out of morbid or forensic curiosity. What specific relevance could this conspiracy thriller have in the parochial terrain of Lost and Found in E17, aside from a fact I bought the book from, Bargain Books, on Walthamstow’s High Street?
David Peace states the novel ‘is a fiction, based on a fact. That fact was found in the following sources' -
‘Blood Sweat and Tears’ by Roger Huddle, Angela Phillips, Mike Simons and John Sturrock (Artworker Books, 1985)
- is among the 32 listed.

Is the ‘Roger Huddle’ the same Roger Huddle who resides in Walthamstow and keeps the history of its anarchist and radical past alive by a variety of means necessary - among them, a forthcoming talk for the News from Nowhere Club ( June 2011 / )?
If he is, does he know of his place in the book and what does he think the 'fact’ is? I doubt there could be a broad consensus about the miners’ strike or its consequences, and the current political climate is one in which ideological differences are likely to grow bigger and more divisive. ‘What is the fact?’ might be a question to ask again at the talk.
It was the recent encounter with the dragons in the foothills (or is it, concrete jungle?) of the mcalpines which seeded a brainstorm of confused and confusing associations concerning the relevance of facts in the ramblings of this here blogger. Those mosaic beasts occupy a site on the wall of the Chingford Hall Estate at one of the dedicated pedestrian entrances to and exits from Ching Way. What are they protecting the estate’s residents from - miscreants straying from the badlands of the Tarkovsky Trail, across the motor moat which is the A406 otherwise known as the North Circular or Southend Road?

What a wall! Replete with flying buttresses and cctv cameras, bordered with a suitably spikey evergreen shrubbery - ideal for snagging, absorbing and deflecting the flotsam, jetsam and roar of the North Circular flow. It appears to be brick but is it brick?

And below are a couple of images of the railway bridge at Selborne Road/Hoe Street (Sept’ 08) which reveal a brick construction to be more substantially a concrete one. Bricks of one sort or another have been used to clad concrete structures since Roman times.

Could the brick be a thin veneer panelling, faux cladding (erectable in any weather) to make the surrounds seem more humane? It could be as if the wall is rising from and belongs to a ground in which there is a history of (thicker more solid) local brick making? What if concrete was and is at the heart of the wall?
On one of the Chingford Hall Estate plaques I saw McAlpine and thought, ‘Concrete Bob’. This muddle of Alfred and Robert took me (mistakenly I think) to a rendition of McAlpine’s Fusiliers.
I stripped to the skin with Darky Finn down upon the Isle of Grain,
With Horseface Toole I learned the rule, no money if you stop for rain.
For McAlpine's god is a well filled hod with your shoulders cut to bits and seared
And woe to he who looks for tea with McAlpines Fusilier

The presence of Norman Tebbit (blogger by The Telegraph) on one the plaques, further enlivened the psycho squall about this place. Norman Tebbit was, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry / President of the Board of Trade (16th October 1983 to 2nd September 1985), during the time of the miners’ strike. His self acclaimed ‘greatest achievement in Government’ was, The Employment Act 1982. The latter created many difficulties for the character, ‘Terry Winters’, in GB84’s rendering of the intrigues and struggles of the NUM’s national strike committee - ‘hiding’ union funds in overseas accounts to avoid seizure, and making furtive and unwitting trips to Libya to seek funds and other support for the strike.
So what is this place built on?
At the beginning of GB84, there is a collection of excerpts from reviews of the book. The excerpt for, The Times:
‘Internalising J.G. Ballard’s suggestion that because we live in a world ruled by fictions the writer’s task is to invent the reality, [Peace] has brought that very old-fashioned strike kicking and screaming into modernity ...... A violently original novel.’

The reality or fact of it's fictions?

1 comment:

  1. Roger Huddle of Walthamstow has kindly replied to an email and confirmed he is a co-author of 'Blood Sweat and Tears' cited in David Peace's sources and acknowledgements for GB84. Many thanks, Roger.