jingle jingle!

jingle jingle!

31.5.10

THE THOMAS SPENCE TRUST


93 Woodburn Square, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3JD

Tel. 0191 2529531


News Bulletin June 2010

It’s good to welcome the establishment of The Thomas Spence Trust, founded by a group of Tyneside activists intent on celebrating and promoting the life and work of that noted pioneer of people’s rights, pamphleteer and poet Thomas Spence (1750-1814), who has born on Newcastle’s Quayside in those turbulent times.

Spence served in his father’s netmaking trade from the age of ten but went on later to be a teacher at Haydon Bridge Free Grammar School and at St. Ann’s Church in Byker under the City Corporation. In 1775, he read his famous lecture on the right to property in land to the Newcastle Philosophical Society, who voted his expulsion at their next meeting.

He claimed to have invented the phrase ‘The Rights of Man’ and chalked it in the caves at Marsden Rocks in South Shields in honour of the working-class hero ‘Blaster Jack’ Bates, who lived there.

He even came to blows with famed Tyneside wood-engraver Thomas Bewick (to whom a memorial has been recently established on the streets of Newcastle) over a political issue, and was thrashed with cudgels for his trouble.

From 1792, having moved to London, he took part in radical agitations, particularly against the war with France. He was arrested several times for selling his own and other seditious books and was imprisoned for six months without trial in 1794, and sentenced to three years for his Restorer of Society to its Natural State in 1801.

Whilst politicians such as Edmund Burke saw the mass of people as the ‘Swinish Multitude’, Spence saw creative potential in everybody and broadcast his ideas in the periodical Pigs’ Meat.

He had a stall in London’s Chancery Lane, where he sold books and saloup, and later set up a small shop called The Hive of Liberty in Holborn.

He died in poverty ‘leaving nothing to his friends but an injunction to promote his Plan and the remembrance of his inflexible integrity’.


The Thomas Spence Trust organised a mini-festival to celebrate Spence in 2000 when it published a booklet on his life and work, together with related events, with the aid of Awards for All.

Trust founder-member, poet Keith Armstrong has written a play for Bruvvers Theatre Company on the socialist pioneer which has been performed at St. Ann’s Church and other venues in the city.

Now the Trust has successfully campaigned for a plaque on the Quayside in Newcastle, where Spence was born. The plaque will be unveiled on Monday June 21st 2010, Spence's 260th birthday, with a number of talks, displays and events coinciding with it.


Further information from: Dr Keith Armstrong, The Thomas Spence Trust, 93 Woodburn Square, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3JD. Tel. 0191 2529531.

THE THOMAS SPENCE MINI-FEST 2010


EVENTS PROGRAMME


MONDAY 21ST JUNE 2010


2.30pm. Broad Garth, Quayside. The unveiling of the Thomas Spence plaque at Broad Garth, Quayside, Newcastle, by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, with a short speech by Dr Keith Armstrong, Chair of The Thomas Spence Trust, and Armstrong’s ‘Folk Song for Thomas Spence’ performed by Gary Miller, singer-songwriter of North East band ‘The Whisky Priests’.

2.45pm. Informal reception with talks, readings from Spence and poems and songs in his honour in the Red House, Sandhill, Quayside.

(Anyone not already invited to the unveiling and the reception and wishing to attend should contact Dr Keith Armstrong on 0191 2529531).


7pm Literary & Philosophical Society Library, Westgate Road, Newcastle. The Workers’ Educational Association and The Thomas Spence Trust present short talks on Spence by Professors Joan Beal (University of Sheffield), Malcom Chase (University of Leeds) and Alastair Bonnett (University of Newcastle), with readings from Spence by Dr Keith Armstrong.

(ADMISSION FREE).


TUESDAY 22ND JUNE 12.30PM


Marsden Grotto, Coast Road, South Shields. A TOAST FOR TOM. Drinks, poems and songs in Spence’s honour at the Grotto where Spence visited ‘Blaster Jack’ and first coined the phrase ‘The Rights of Man’ by chalking on a cave wall.

(ALL WELCOME).


MONDAY 28TH JUNE 2-3PM.


MEETING ROOM 7, 6TH FLOOR , NEWCASTLE CITY LIBRARY.

THE HIVE OF LIBERTY: The Life and Work of Thomas Spence.

Talk by Dr Keith Armstrong, Chair of The Thomas Spence Trust.

THERE WILL ALSO BE A DISPLAY OF SPENCE’S WORKS ON THE 6TH FLOOR OF THE LIBRARY, RUNNING FROM MONDAY 21ST jUNE TO MONDAY 5TH JULY.


FURTHER EVENTS, LATER IN 2010, INCLUDE THE NEWCASTLE LAUNCH OF THE RE-PRINT OF PROFESSOR MALCOLM CHASE’S ‘THE PEOPLE’S FARM’.

26.5.10

twin with me!




24.5.10

prague again

23.5.10

HORSES ON MOUNT VITOSHA

















They came through mist,
horses solid as trees
but warm and breathing,
with the wide world
in their broad brown eyes.
They were wise,
watched me sitting drinking wine alone,
then dipped their heads and drank
from a bubbling water-tap;
trotted off,
daintily avoiding stone-steps,
along the lane and out of sight,
threading through
the silent trees.
There was something in that moment.
A look, centuries-long, in their eyes.
You know, I think those horses knew
how life began.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

21.5.10

THE THOMAS SPENCETRUST



FOLK SONG FOR THOMAS SPENCE (1750-1814)


Down by the old Quayside,
I heard a young man cry,
among the nets and ships he made his way.
As the keelboats buzzed along,
he sang a seagull’s song;
he cried out for the Rights of you and me.

Oh lads, that man was Thomas Spence,
he gave up all his life
just to be free.
Up and down the cobbled Side,
struggling on through the Broad Chare,
he shouted out his wares
for you and me.

Oh lads, you should have seen him gan,
he was a man the likes you rarely see.
With a pamphlet in his hand,
and a poem at his command,
he haunts the Quayside still
and his words sing.

His folks they both were Scots,
sold socks and fishing nets,
through the Fog on the Tyne they plied their trade.
In this theatre of life,
the crying and the strife,
they tried to be decent and be strong.

Oh lads, that man was Thomas Spence,
he gave up all his life
just to be free.
Up and down the cobbled Side,
struggling on through the Broad Chare,
he shouted out his wares
for you and me.

Oh lads, you should have seen him gan,
he was a man the likes you rarely see.
With a pamphlet in his hand,
and a poem at his command,
he haunts the Quayside still
and his words sing.


KEITH ARMSTRONG



THE HIVE OF LIBERTY

(AFTER THE NAME OF THOMAS SPENCE’S BOOKSHOP AT 8 LITTLE TURNSTILE, HOLBORN)





I am a small and humble man,
my body frail and broken.
I strive to do the best I can.
I spend my life on tokens.

I traipse through Holborn all alone,
hawking crazy notions.
I am the lonely people’s friend.
I live on schemes and potions.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow ike wine,
my words just flow like wine.

I am a teeming worker bee.
My dignity is working.
My restless thoughts swell like the sea.
My fantasies I’m stoking.

There is a rebel inside me,
a sting about to strike.
I hawk my works around the street.
I put the world to rights.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow like wine,
my words just flow like wine.




KEITH ARMSTRONG



JACK 'THE BLASTER' BATES

'Ye landlords vile, whose man's peace mar,
Come levy rents here if you can:
Your stewards and lawyers I defy,
And live with all the Rights of Man.'

(Thomas Spence)


I've dug this cave to be free,
To let my heart leap by the sea,
It's all for the cause of liberty,
A sanctuary for me.

The landlords are off our backs,
The bosses and the hacks,
Free from tyrants and their quacks,
I'm off the beaten tracks.

I'm Jack the Blaster,
My own master,
I'm a miner and shafter,
An Allenheads grafter.
Jack the Blaster,
Drowning in laughter,
Master crafter,
Peasant and poet.



KEITH ARMSTRONG



(from the music-theatre piece ‘Pig’s Meat’ written for Bruvvers Theatre Company)

11.5.10


KEITH ARMSTRONG MAKES POETRY OUT OF HIS LIFE AND OUR WORLD AND LETS US PARTICIPATE IN HIS LITTLE MIRACLES! (MARGIT ALDINGER, TUEBINGEN)

thanx so much for the great great evening in tübingen. it was a real pleasure to meet ya. keep in touch and...till we meet again.

orra very best
geordie and the wild bunch

back in prague soon

"Discord & Accord"

A Unique - One Night - Nightcap
from the singular spirits of:

KEITH ARMSTRONG
acclaimed English writer
whose poetry inspires us to see the present day
in the light of the past, places and people

and

JAKUB ZAHRADNIK
popular Czech composer and improviser
performing for the very first time
a cycle of 5 songs he has created from Keith`s poetry

served

LIVE !

10pm -Thursday 3rd June - Only !
at


The GLOBE cafe & bookstore
Pstrossova 6, Praha 1

For more information about:

KEITH ARMSTRONG - http://keithyboyarmstrong.blogspot.com
JAKUB ZAHRADNIK - www.jakubzahradnik.com
This event: Gordon Truefitt at Playgroup2008@gmail.com - phone: 606190604

the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur