The Tolpuddle Festival: Hope and Reality Colliding

For years we have congregated in this rural idyll surrounded by those who manage, as best as possible, to not see others as walking currencies. Through the Blair and Brown years the profound consolation was that the Conservatives were not in government. Not that much of a consolation as it transpired but better than nothing. Then came Miliband. Enough said. However the atmosphere was always the same. Shiny happy people. A unity of purpose. To create a better world than the corrupt, deceitful, megalomania of Toryland. 

Whether it be the three days or just the one. Whether one camped or struggled in on the Sunday bus. The end result was a transfusion of hope. Under Blair, Brown and Miliband it was limited. Now though it is flowering. Jeremy Corbyn and his team do not represent the establishment muppets who embraced inequality for others whilst they lived in relative luxury. No. now the message is clear: ‘FOR THE MANY NOT THE FEW.’

Thanks to Damien Stone.

For a surround sound audio experience then try this with headphones (Thanks to Shawn Keys).

This man. We must not build him up as messiah even though his initials are JC. No religious language. No superstar status. It’s the values and the demeanour we must celebrate. Brave but modest. Listening and engaging. Empathetic and considerate. Tactile and respectful. Solutions and critique. Democracy not Plutocracy.

Jeremy’s speech as well as Frances O’Grady’s and Nigel Costley’s were confident and in tune with the positive but determined vision that 13 million voted for last month. Hope is becoming reality.

We were there for the Sunday. Those who read last year’s review  will know we had a gripe with the transport from Weymouth, specifically the cost. This year we followed the same method but the drivers were polite and could not have been more helpful. As we all know nice people set a very different mood…. A big thank you if you are reading this. In hindsight I should have asked their names and given them a shout out.

Around the stalls signing petitions and the children collecting some freebies. Conversations and helpful advice to help others from union reps…. Polite and smiley.

A massive highlight, as we meandered, was a performance by the Cartoon Action Theatre. A wonderful witty and extremely precise critique of the corporate media.

Tolpuddle E

Unfortunately we did not record it but we did find this one portraying benefit sanctions. Anyone who has experienced the terrorists at the DWP or seen ‘I Daniel Blake’ will empathise immediately.

 

A picnic and then on to the march. Definitely the longest we have experienced.

March 1

tolpuddle march 2

March 2

The front with Jeremy was back to the beginning before the end had got half way. No matter what end we were; the same beautiful atmosphere presided. No jealousy, envy or anger. Just beautiful and polite people.

Jack Dunne

Each side of the speeches was some great music. As so much was going on we only caught Rob Johnson and the fabulous Mekons.

Rob was his usual terrific self. Humour and sharp as a farm labourer’s blade.

Thanks to Damien Stone

And then The Mekons.

Right at the front with our 8 year old and did we dance. They say dance strengthens the back muscles. Well my middle aged back needs strengthening and I awoke the day after as Hercules. Unfortunately my camera battery had adopted a comatosed state so we were only able to grab a short clip:

(Millie Cridland 8yrs old)

Tolpuddle B

They were absolutely brilliant.

Here is the set list:

Tolpuddle F

See lead singer John Langford’s drawing of Millie.

And here is Millie and I meeting John after the set:

John Langford

Another wonderful day. A catch up with Neil Duncan Jordan and Keith Hatch and then back on the bus and homeward bound.

Another inspirational day where hope and reality are colliding. Once enough of the nation has awoken they will become as one.

One criticism we received came from Rona Lisa Topaz ‘Please, Tolpuddle. This is the 21st Century. Please make your Festival inclusive by having scooters available for hire, or volunteers with manual wheelchairs. Otherwise I can never attend it again. Please. Ta.’

Highlights from Saturday sent via Facebook:

Francesca Martinez and friends.

Tolpuddle C

And Mark Steel (with John Mcnichol)

Tolpuddle D

Next year who knows. We can shape the future if we want to. See you then.