Henry Croft, the Pearly King Road Sweeper.

Henry Croft – Road Sweeper
Trafalgar Sqare is famous for the man perched high above it on the column, but I recently discovered another man hidden underneath the square who hardly anybody knows about and he is just as interesting to me.
I have no doubt that if you were to climb up Nelson’s Column, the great Naval Commander would have impressive stories to tell of Great Sea Battles.
If you descend into the crypt of St Martin in the Fields, the celebrated Road Sweeper who resides down there has his stories too.
Yet as one who was born in a workhouse and died in a workhouse, Henry Croft’s tales would be of another timbre to those of Horatio Nelson. 
Henry Croft stands in the furthest, most obscure, corner far away from the busy cafeteria, the giftshop, the bookshop, the brass rubbing centre and the art gallery, and I expect he is grateful for the peace and quiet.
Of diminutive stature at just five feet, he stands patiently with an implacable expression waiting for eternity, the way that you or I might wait for a bus. 
Only since since 2002, when his life-size marble statue was removed to St Martin in the Fields from St Pancras Cemetery after being vandalised several times and whitewashed to conceal the damage.
Born in Somers Town Workhouse in 1861 and raised there after the death of his father who was a musician, it seems Henry inherited his parent’s showmanship, decorating his suit with pearl buttons while working as a Road Sweeper from the age of fifteen.
Father of twelve children and painfully aware of the insecurities of life, Henry launched his own personal system of social welfare by drawing attention with his ostentatious outfit and collecting money for charities including Public Hospitals and Temperance Societies.
As self-appointed ‘Pearlie King of Somers Town,’ Henry sewed seven different pearly outfits for himself and many suits for others too, so that by 1911 there were twenty-eight Pearly King and Queens spread across all the Metropolitan Boroughs of London.
Image: At Henry Croft’s funeral in St Pancras Cemetery in 1930
It is claimed Henry was awarded in excess of two thousand medals for his charitable work and his funeral cortege in 1930 was over half a mile long with more than four hundred pearlies in attendance.
Read on Further via Source: Henry Croft, Road Sweeper | Spitalfields Life

Uncle Joe’s Underground Printshop.

Joseph Stalin’s Printing Press
The underground press has a long history, from the 16th century tracts printed in Calvinist Geneva, to the psychedelic magazines of “Swinging London” in the 1960’s, and the “samizdat” literature of the USSR.
In most cases the term “underground” simply means, anti-establishment, clandestine or banned by authorities such as the state or the church.
At the Joseph Stalin Underground Printing House Museum , in Tblisi, the capital of Georgia, the printing press is, literally, underground.
Stalin (1878 – 1953) was born as Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili in Gori, a town about 85 kilometres east of Tbilisi.
His early revolutionary activities included bank robbery, the proceeds of which funded the secret press which the museum celebrates.
Between 1903 and 1906, when the press was discovered by the Imperial Russian Police, flyers, pamphlets, and newspapers were printed in Azeri, Armenian Georgian and Russian for distribution in the Eastern Caucasus – a compositor’s nightmare of four different alphabets.
In 1937 Stalin and the notorious secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria, decided to rebuild the house and cellar, and, with a new building for exhibits, to open a museum, which survived until 1991.
Between 1991 and 1998, when the local Communist Party took over, the museum lay empty, exhibits were pillaged, and the cellar flooded regularly in winter.
A visiting Chinese General berated the Tbiblisi local authority about the flooding and since 2012 the problem has been rectified.
I was shown round by Zhiuli Sikhmashvili, deputy chairman of the Georgian Communist Party, a sprightly man in his 80’s and a committed Communist for over 50 years; he has little English, I have little Russian, but somehow, we managed to communicate.
Visitors now descend to the printshop down rickety stairs from an undistinguished bungalow.
In the gloomy cellar stands the rusty flatbed press, perhaps capable of restoration if the job is tackled soon.
The maker’s name is Maschinenfabrik Augsburg, the date of manufacture 1893. The press made its way from Germany to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was then dismantled, transported 600 kilometres to Tbilisi, and reassembled where it now stands.
A small bonus for the printing historian is the F M Weiter Liberty Press which rests, without explanation, in the room above the cellar. Apparently in good condition, how one of the most popular American jobbing presses of the 19th Century arrived in the museum is a mystery.
Source: Joseph Stalin’s Printing Press

Logged off: the teens who refuse to use social media.

Mary Amanuel, who does not use social media. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Drăgoi for the Guardian
Generation Z has grown up online – so why are a surprising number suddenly turning their backs on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat?
For 17-year-old Mary Amanuel, from London, it happened in Tesco. “We were in year 7,” she remembers, “and my friend had made an Instagram account. As we were buying stuff, she was counting the amounts of likes she’d got on a post. ‘Oooh, 40 likes. 42 likes.’ I just thought: ‘This is ridiculous.’”
Isabelle, an 18-year-old student from Bedfordshire who doesn’t want to disclose her surname, turned against social media when her classmates became zombified.
“Everyone switched off from conversation. It became: ‘Can I have your number to text you?’
Something got lost in terms of speaking face to face. And I thought: ‘I don’t really want to be swept up in that.’”
For 15-year-old Emily Sharp, from Staines in Surrey, watching bullying online was the final straw. “It wasn’t nice. That deterred me from using it.”
Now read on via Source: Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media | Society | The Guardian

‘The Hollywood Ten’.

When the House on Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed filmmakers to testify about communism in the industry, a few held their ground — and for a time, lost their livelihood.
hollywood_ten
Courtesy of PhotofestIt
A call from the Committee was the casting call no one in Hollywood wanted to receive. In October 1947, when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) convened a hearing in Washington, D.C., to investigate subversive activities in the entertainment industry, 41 screenwriters, directors and producers were subpoenaed.
Most witnesses were “friendly” — that is, willing to respond to the committee’s central question: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”
And those who confessed to membership were offered the opportunity to name “fellow travellers,” thereby regaining their good standing with the committee and, by extension, the American film industry.
Ten witnesses — all current or former party members — banded together in protest, refusing to cooperate on First Amendment grounds (freedom of speech, right of assembly and freedom of association).
The HUAC disagreed and found the so-called Hollywood Ten in contempt of Congress, fined them each $1,000 and sentenced them to up to a year in federal prison.
All 10 artists also were fired by a group of studio executives — and the era of the Hollywood blacklist began.
Read the full article via The Hollywood Ten: The Men Who Refused to Name Names – Hollywood Reporter

Storming the Bastille on 14 July 1789.

french-revolution-bastille-day-1024x843On the morning of July 14th, 1789, a group formed of craftsmen and salesmen decided to fight back and ran to the Invalides to steal some weapons.
The mob stole 28,000 riffles there, however no powder was to be found.
The crowd knew that a pile of powder was stocked in the Bastille, a prison that was a symbol of the King’s absolute and arbitrary power.
So they decided to attack it.
At the time of the storming, the Bastille was only guarded by a few soldiers. There were 80 “invalides”, veteran soldiers wounded in the field and around 30 grenadiers from the Swiss mercenary regiments.
Marquis Bernard-Rene de Launay was at the time governor of the “Invalides.
la_bastille
The Storming of the Bastille and the Arrestation of Governor de Launay. Source: Anonymous.
Read more via Storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789 | Bastille-Day.com.

A Tribute to Terry Miller.

from Australian Associated Press and Rod Parham
South Australian asbestos campaigner Terry Miller OAM has been remembered for his “tireless” advocacy work after he died aged 76.
Mr Miller developed severe asbestosis following two decades working for James Hardie in Adelaide’s north and went on to form a group that provides practical support to victims and their families.
“There are very few people who have worked so tirelessly, for so many years, to help so many people,” Asbestos Victims Association of South Australia president Kat Burge said on Friday.
Mr Miller became secretary of the Asbestos Victims Association after asbestosis forced his early retirement in 2002.
The organisation lobbied the state’s parliament to pass legislation aimed at fast-tracking the compensation process for victims.
“Terry knew first-hand just how terrible asbestos diseases are, but he used that personal experience to fight for the rights of fellow asbestos victims,” Ms Burge said.
Mr Miller is survived by his two children, Karen and Scott, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Terry Miller was a very special man, an active member of his Union the Vehicle Division of the AMWU he was a great person to have on your side during a struggle.
The respect that Terry had gained in his advocacy for asbestos victims was truly inspiring.
He was not a man to be trifled with and was clear in what he wanted for his clients. He was from the Riverland I believe, and spoke with the honesty that only ‘bushies’ do.
Terry will be missed sure but what a Legacy he leaves for asbestos suffers everywhere. Thanks Old Mate. RP