Sunday, 4 March 2012

Why 'The Green Fields of France'?

Well, last year my father and mother, Barry and Jem France, both suffered critical illnesses and, as is common in situations like, this I began to think of my own mortality. Thankfully, both Barry and Jem survived 2011 and I found myself remembering a lot of things from my childhood and an urge to preserve these memories somehow. 

I started a personal memoir of what The Longbridge Car Plant meant to me [Barry had worked there for 27 years]

In the New Year 2012, I launched a campaign "For a Museum of Working Life at Longbridge" [Please click on the link and view the e-petition to Bromsgrove District Council - you do not have to be local resident to support and sign]
Anyway, I was hoping that some other website or blog might be interested in publishing my scribblings, one person I approached was Sas Taylor, of B31 Voices and she said "Why don't you set up a Blog of your own to publish your work". I am often accused, by others, of not following advice [this is true] however, in this case I did. Welcome to THE GREEN FIELDS OF FRANCE, and I hope you find the personal and political perspectives I post here interesting. Since the Summer of 1976, when I was approaching my 14th Birthday, I have been a committed, social activist involved in many organisations, campaigns and struggles over 4 decades, this 'Blog' will hopefully be a record of this involvement.  I chose the title 'The Green Fields of France' because I love the song.

Davy Athur of the Furey's singing 'The Green Fields of France'

I used to listen to this tune throughout the Spring and Summer of 1979, at that time i was an unemployed 16 year old political activist involved in the Troops Out Movement, International Marxist Group and Birmingham Revoluton Youth.

Often, late at night, I lay awake in my bedroom with my little clock radio, tuned to RTE radio and this song would touch me in so many ways. My name was 'France', I grew up surrounded by the 'Green Fields' of Worcestershire, my anti-war sentiment was firmly ingrained by the sense of regret I felt for never meeting my maternal Grandfather, who died on April 1st 1945 in Germany. The closing lament of the song would always leave me in tears and I often drifted off to sleep emotionally drained.
The song would also stir an inner process within in me that enabled me to awake refreshed and determined to return to the struggle for a better world free of all violence and oppression.

So welcome to 'The Green Fields of France'....
I hope post at least once a month and will just write whatever comes into my head. This is similar to how I talk and one of the reasons I have pissed off so many people and been sacked from so many jobs over the years. I will rely upon - you 'the reader' to help me 'moderate' this blog. So if you think i am wrong tell me - but please do so respectfully as well as honestly.

Finally,  I would not be able to publish this without the support of my long suffering wife Dawn.
I have known Dawn since we were at school together in 1976 but lost touch with her after the last day of school in 1978. We didn't meet up again until 2006. My Profile pic on this blog was taken by Dawn as we headed to Manchester for the Stop The War Campaign 'Time to Go!' Demonstration, along with my mom, dad and son. In someways this day marked a turning point in my life, within a six weeks, I had moved from Huddersfield down to Bromsgrove, close to where I was born and began a new life with Dawn.  

Today, Dawn provides the roof over my head and is, as I type,  making a Sunday Dinner for the Family. Dawn bought the Laptop I am typing on, pays for the electric and the Internet connection. A mixture of my own stupidity and the 'victimisation' that my political activity has produced means getting and keeping a job is difficult for me. In the current economic crisis I am totally reliant on Dawn the DWP won't pay me JobSeekers Allowance and the last work I had was minimum wage wharehouse work over a year ago.

Dawn is the most beautiful, intelligent, tolerant and caring woman I have known and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for the Love we share despite all the obstacles we have faced throughout our lives...... One day, soon I hope to be able to provide the resources so Dawn can rest and relax a bit. In the meantime all donations and or job offers greatly appreciated - so don't be shy in coming forward.

As a tribute and to say thanks to Dawn I end this post with another song by the Furey's.... a big hit in Ireland during that most traumatic of years 1981. I remember being in a pub in Digbeth, Birmingham after a Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee meeting, when I first heard it. As I nursed my pint of orange squash, I immediately I thought of Dawn... but it would be another 25 years before I saw her face again.

I could have my life over again I would never have got involved in political activism while still at school, Instead I would have found the courage to tell Dawn exactly how I felt back in September 1977 when Dawn was Sweet Sixteen. 
When You Were Sweet Sixteen by the Fureys

We can not change the past or alter our own mistakes in life - but we can learn from history and prepare for a better future. I may be an 'unrepentant rebel' but that doesn't mean I am not accountable for my actions or any hurt I have caused. "The Green Fields of France" will be personal and political, honest and truthful.
Thanks for reading.... hope you drop by again and feel free to contribute.

No comments:

Post a Comment