Tag Archives: Labour Party

I was expecting to bump into Doris Lessing

This election has its charming moments. Yesterday I was invited for lunch by a group of “left-wing” Londoners who meet once a month at the Gay Hussar in Soho. Some are still professionally active, but most are retired people. There was a strong contingent of solicitors and lawyers, a couple of trade-unionists and people working in management in the public services. A majority are members of the Labour party, one of them was presented to me as a “Communist Party member”; most had been at some point in the Communist Party. I was expecting to bump into Doris Lessing in the small overcrowded room where we all met. I love the Gay Hussar, the mythical place of the British Left. You first struggle with the two swing doors to enter the restaurant. On the left hand side, the wall is covered from top to bottom by rows of frames. In each frame there is a drawing representing a caricature of a well-known left-wing personality (politicians, trade-unionists, journalists). Waiters are always grumpy, but it is part of the Gay Hussar folklore. I went upstairs and entered this ridiculously small room in which the 20 members in attendance were waiting for me. The meeting time was 12.15, I got there at 12.17. My table-companions were all seated and there was no room behind the wall and the rows of chairs for me to walk to the centre of the U-shaped table. Everyone had to stand up to let me pass. When I finally reached the centre of the table, the club president told me: “When Ed Balls came here, he crawled under the table to reach his seat”.


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and Jack Lindsay

Moment of Choice, by Jack Lindsay. (336 pp. Bodley Head. 12s. 6d.)
THIS novel follows Betrayed Spring and Rising Tide, and completes Jack Lindsay’s trilogy about post-war Britain. It is set in Yorkshire, and covers the period between April, 1950, and April, 1951. The central characters are Kit Swinton, the son of a mill owner, and Jane Dacres, the daughter of a rival manufacturer, whom he marries. Both are self-divided and doubting characters. Jane, influenced by Jill Wethers, a working girl, and her own sister Margaret, both communists, joins the peace movement and finds conviction. In her turn, she convinces her husband, whom she has had to leave because of his attitude to her work for peace. Various kinds of people are presented to us: trade unionists, Labour Party, communists, and the contemporary equivalent of the bright young things. The working people, particularly the women, are lively and convincing. Memorable scenes are May Day, 1951, and the scrimmages with the police; the first meeting of a Peace group; and a street meeting on the Korean War.
The Labour Monthly, July 1955, pp. 335-6 [Also, a page earlier: review by Hugh MacDiarmid of The Fisherman’s Son by Vilis Lacis]

A Garland for Jack Lindsay (1980)
lesslinds1 2014-04-28 15.52.15 2014-04-28 15.52.49

Dear Jack

Dear Jack
I’m asked to scratch your back
Because you’re eighty.
Good and fine!
But—I scratch your back,
You scratch mine!

 Purr, purr, purr.

This year I’m sixty.
I wish for you:
In twenty years you’ll still be here
To rub my ears
And smooth my fur.

Purr, purr, purr, purr.

These days we may live long, they say,
With bran, Vit E, and yog, Vit B.
All viruses, contagions too,
Contained and safely kept at bay.
But— if I ask you
And you ask me:
‘My wish for you,
Your wish for me:
In forty years we’ll still be here,
To rub each other’s ears and purr. . . ?’

 Oh mew, mew, mew, mew . . . niow, niew

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April 30, 2014 · 10:39 am