Saturday, August 18, 2007


Kaz complained that I didn't accompany the previous post with a picture of dreamy, Gallic former TUC General Secretary Len Murray.

So, here is a post about the Pin Up Boys of The Trade Union movement and a chance for you to decide ... who is the most gorgeous?

This is a celebration of a time when you couldn't switch on a "television set" (as they were called in that golden era) without seeing a bunch of grim looking men in donkey jackets sitting around a brazier.

Still, enough about Dexy's Midnight Runners. Trade Union Leaders were heroes to the dispossessed in the days when men were men and women ought to go and make us a brew, there's a love, and can we 'ave some of them biscuits to be going on with?

Take your pick.

Len Murray, purveyor of dry cough and world weary French bohemianism without actually being French. The Jake Thackray of the TUC.

White collar union leader Clive Jenkins always seemed like the kind of clammy, sweaty and slightly creepy little man who would play the part of a clerk in an office-based drama who had power over somebody because he knew An Awful Secret about them and would resort to blackmail so that the secret didn't get out, all the while wearing an ingratiating smile.

One of the great outrages I've just become aware of is that I CAN'T FIND A PHOTO OF POSTAL WORKERS LEADER TOM JACKSON ON THE INTERNET. The flamboyant Yorkshireman had the best anachronistic facial hair of the 1970s alongside Lord Lucan. Instead, I have had to resort to using someone whose facial hair looks a bit like Tom Jackson's - oh, the humiliation! If anyone is aware of a photo of Tom Jackson being available on the internet, please let me know.

Vic Feather was given the title Baron Feather during those crazy hazy loony lefty days. People like that would have been imprisoned by that nice Mrs Thatcher. In fact, it's a surprise he wasn't deported to Australia as a criminal as he admitted to stealing sheep in the 1930's. May win the vote of women who like the tough-talking rogue type.

As Arabella said "(those) glasses! Be still, my beating heart!" Rodney's irresistible magnetism may win the day. After all, my dad, who'd been asleep all afternoon, with the TUC Conference on in the background, once woke up and announced "bloody hell, he has got such a sexy voice, that bastard!" while Mr Bickerstaffe was at the podium, before promptly falling asleep again.

Still, don't let me try to sway your vote. Let me know in the comments box: WHO WAS THE MOST ATTRACTIVE TRADE UNION LEADER?


The people have spoken, which means I have to offer up two new candidates for your delight and delectation, as Leonard Sachs would have said.

He headed the final stand against Thatcherism, he was THE redhead in the decade of redheads (Cilla Black, Neil Kinnock, Mick Hucknall), he "grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory" (said X Moore of The Redskins, har har), he had the only combover in history that was better than Bobby Charlton's ... ladies and gents, it's Big Hearted Arthur Scargill!

Derek Robinson reminded me a bit too much of the sort of people my dad used to work with, but was a major figure on Midlands Today in the late 1970's as Peter Colbourne announced that there were rumours of yet more redundancies at Longbridge. Garfer mentions his "jackets made of old curtains", but I could only find a picture of him wearing what is known by fashionistas as "an environmental science teacher's jacket". Oh well, never mind. "After a lung mayting with the manidgement, we 'ave coom to a dishishun": that was his catchphrase.

Once again, I throw the vote out to the public, in true trade union style. One out, all out.

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Shit shit SHIT. Blogger has been arsing me about since I tried to do an update which it wouldn't change when I tried to publish it FOUR times. Therefore, I've lost all those comments!

All we have are the memories :(
... and now it's not even showing up any comments, to add insult to injury. Blogger, you must die.
But but but! As ever I'm joining the party late, so I don't even have the memories! Was it a really hilarious comment thread?
Mangonel, it was a classic thread. Lots of droolsome comments about Len Murray being an extra in Le Boucher and Bryan Ferry killing to be as cool as Len. Complimentary comments about Rodney Bickerstaffe's quiff and rockabilly outlaw attitude. First Nations making outrageous unfounded allegations about Vic Feather. A rearguard movement which suggested I should have included Arthur Scargill as a candidate (since amended). A mention of Norman Willis' poetry.

Basically, the comments were much better than the post.

Gone, all gone.

*weeps all over keyboard*
Bastards. Yes them.

If I had any children I'd tell them "I was there" for the TUC event of the century at Betty's. But I don't/won't so I'll just bore adult Americans who won't have a clue what I'm going on about, as per.

For a while, you had me with that picture of Len. But in the end, I couldn't get past the brown suit (what? Arabella - shallow?!). So, it's official after a show of my own hand - my heart belongs to Rodney.
Maybe it's time to ditch that old "socialist" template and choose a New Blogger one. It's the way the world's going.

It's Bickers for me - champion of the low paid with a voice like Paul Robeson.
Arabella - well, I'll take comfort in the fact that it was a legendary comments thread. In fact, I'll start to lay it on really thick to build up The Legend. Not many of us will know what really happened, but when we do, our eyes will mist over. Meanwhile, what's wrong with a brown suit? It seems to be favoured by the Gallic type of man. Still, it's your choice.

Geoff - I know, the pictures on this post seem to have disappeared now as well! Has Margaret Thatcher put a curse on me? In other news, it looks as if Bickers is forging ahead. after a slow start. Still, there could be more changes ahead. Who knows?
Cor. Len Murray really quite a dish. I imagine that's what Richey manic would look like in twenty years' time, were he still with us.
Bickers for my knickers, I totally would.
And I would totally buy that T shirt, Boz.
Sigh ... I don't think I want this comments thread to ever end.
Rodney is cleaning up here. He was definitely the David Cassidy of the 1970's British trade union movement.
Vic feather brings back memories. I remember reading in The Times about his broken ankle at a time when my age-mates were still on book 2 of Peter and Jane. I was a very precocious reader.
Violet - perhaps Richey will return to usher in a new socialist movement via the TUC in twenty years *stares wistfully into middle distances*

Boz - good catchphrase for the Bickerstaffe To Win campaign there.

Arabella - and me.

Garfer - could it be forever ... or is my mind just rambling on?

Llewtrah - I can remember Mike Yarwood impersonating Vic Feather while dressed as a king, presumably when he'd received his title. Those union leaders were pretty high profile figures at the time, which is difficult to imagine now.
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