Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mudlarks and some of my favourite Blogs



I thought for a change, and as I seem to be suffering from a wee bit of the old writers block at this present moment, which is a prison term of thwarting frustration immured without trial, so I thought it a good idea and that I would take this opportunity and  have a look at some of my blogging comrades and friends work, whilst at the same time giving them a well-earned ballyhoo of a plug!”

Blogging can be a lonesome old place at the best of times, and during the course of last three years that I have been blogging, some really good blogs have packed-up and closed shop, which is always a real shame, but then again to keep a good blog and of the political variety takes up a great deal of time, and if you hold down a job like some of my fellow blogger’s do this can only be an added pressure to endure and countenance; so to those comrades I say well done and please keep up the great work.

Like a great many bloggers, I keep a blog roll of some of my favourite blogs, and these are the specimen samples which I will be looking at in this post and possibly the next, and not with a critical eye; although I may have my own differences on some issues or another with comrades; but their very inclusion on the roll is because I find them interesting or I believe that they have a pertinent and logical relevance that would be of interest (because it is unusual or exciting etc.) to others.

So let me start with one of my all time favorites and long time cyberspace friends. Chris H who runs Lansbury’s Lido Blog has recently turned out some great work such as this gem of a quotation from one Patrick Colquhoun:

“Poverty...is a necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilisation. It is the lot of man - it is the source of wealth, since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.” 

Colquhoun who lived from 1745 -1820, was the founder of the Thames River Police. I very much like this quotation because it amplifies the inherent contradictions of capitalism and the opposition between two conflicting forces or ideas of how society could be run; then and still existent presently, existing still in fact and not merely (socialism) potential but possible today.

What Colquhoun' was concerned with really, was that of his and his own class greed and robbery, that class that enslaved' and at times forced a working class of the improvised; then and I would indeed argue even today to go out and commit what the ruling property owning class call crimes, so they may live and survive. Back then and for a very long time the River Thames was the docking and unloading bay for the swag and looted booty from a conquered and appropriated empire. This is how and where people like Colquhoun and many others made their fortune, but the problem for them being, there were a great number of robberies of various descriptions committed on the Thames by different parties. These depredations differed in value, from the little ragged mudlark stealing a piece of rope or a few handfuls of coals from a river barge, to the lighter-man carrying off bales of silk several hundred pounds in value. 

Now according to Wikpedia: ‘Mudlarks’ would search the murky and muddy shores of the River Tames during low tide, scavenging for anything of worth that could be sold, sometimes, when occasion offered, pilfering from the river traffic. By at least the late 18th century people dwelling near the river could scrape a subsistence and made a living this way.

Mudlarks’ were usually either youngsters aged between eight and fifteen, or robust elderly; and though most mudlarks were mail, young girls and women were also forced into scavenging. it is completely conceivable that these people were looked down upon and probably labeled ragamuffins, urchin, beachcomber, beggar, vagrant, tramp, bog lady and so on, but I think that Mudlark was a derogative and disparaging term formally used to designate and belittle, a favorite pastime of capitalist society still persisting, relentless and indefatigable in the age old pursuit of divide and rule.

One of my favorite pastimes is to spend some time on the banks of the Tames looking for interesting objects from the past which I collect, so the point is some years ago I did some research into the history of this great river, and in particular 17th and 18th felonies on the river at the British Library. 

It is no wonder that the likes of Colquhoun, and his class sprang into action and decided to police the river and protect their hoarded loot, thereby forcibly by applying the force's of law and order - ‘their law and their order’, remember that “Poverty...is a necessary and indispensable ingredient in society.”

Just to end this post with a big ‘thank you’ to Conrade Chris, and an account about the Mudlarks that I found some years ago:

“They sell the coals among the lowest class of people for a few halfpence. The police make numerous detections of these offences. Some of the mudlarks receive a a short term of imprisonment, from three weeks to a month, and others two months with two months with three years in a reformatory. Some of them are old women of the lowest grade, from fifty to sixty, who occasionally wade in mud up to the knees. One of them may be seen beside the Thames Police office, Wapping, picking up coals in the river, who appears to be about sixty-five years of age. She is a robust woman, dressed in an old cotton gown, with an old straw bonnet tied round with a handkerchief, and wonders about without shoes and stockings. This person has never been in custody. She may be often seen walking through the streets in the neighbourhood with a bag of coals on her head.”   
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6 comments:

Majid Ali said...

Please help me for Christ sake

Robert said...

I suspect some of us are heading back to this, with Welfare and other reforms.

I'm off to my medical for ESA within a month, so even though I think I'm disabled and my doctors think so as well, I suspect I'll have to fight like hell.

New world order and all that, Newer labour Tories seems harder to find the difference these days.

Chris H said...

Cheers for the mention!

I thought Colquhoun's quotation was spot on and emphasises capitalism's elephant in the room, the truth that must not be spoken, capitalism's dirty secret.

We live in a world where society and media bombard us with encouragement to be the best, do your utmost, get to the top etc. But in a capitalist society you can only do that at the expense of others. We can't all be captains of industry or entrepreuners wealthy beyond belief. For one to attain riches then others must have what they have taken from them, by force if necessary.

This model also applies to institutions and states. We in the West are 'rich' and can live a consumerist lifestyle because we have taken from other lands and peoples (colonialism and imperialism) their natural wealth and assets. Think today about the Libyans who have been murdered so that the West can control their oil resources for our own benefits. Same with Iraq. And looking back in recent and not so recent time we see the same with cotton, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, opium, human slavery. All done for profit and treating life as cheap. This is the evil inherent in capitalsim. It cannot be reformed, it has to be brought down. For the sake of this world and our brothers and sisters of every hue it has to be done.

Norbert said...

Thank you all comrades,

for your comments, and let me first address comrade Majid Ali, sorry to here of your fiscal problems of trying to pay your way through to obtaining an education that will set you up for life, somewhat similar to what our own students are facing in the UK, as for myself I have to say that like most people around me I am very poor without work and a small income that I only just get by on. So I am unable to help you comrade but wish you all the best in your pursuit!"

Robert, thanks for your comment and all right-minded comrades are or should be with you in condemnation of forced ESA medicals; your fight is not yours alone we all have to demand an end to the witch-hunt against our brethren, and sisters of course who are on the sick.

Chris H, do like that phrase 'capitalism dirty secret' may use in a blog one day, won't be the first time I nicked and idea from you comrade.

I agree with all your comments, I am quite boring really - but I do like your blog facelift and makeover very good!"

Chris H said...

Fancied a change on the look of the blog, was getting a bit plain.

Chris H said...

Just seen your reference the mudlarks. Reminds me of old pictures from the Welsh village where my family is from, men and boys searching through the spoil tip to find scraps of coal. Sometimes allowed by the authorities but often not allowed as a form of punishment and oppression.

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