Eyewitness to History
John Carey (editor)
(Harvard University Press, 1988)
This is a wonderful book, spanning the centuries and jumping from Roman times through to the 1970s, taking in such events as the Peasant’s Revolt, the beheading of Mary Queen Of Scots and the first world war. However, its not just the big events that are covered. If you want to read about a group of pissed medieval women turning up at jousts and behaving badly, this is the book you need. It’s a perfect book to install in your toilet and will ensure your guests stay in there even longer than is imaginably possible. So, not only fascinating, but invaluable for those annoying guests you want to see the back of for half an hour.
In the Springtime of the Year
(Hamish Hamilton 1973; Long Barn Books, May 2006)
This is a completely miserable yet brilliant book with more poetry in it than most poetry books. Ruth loses her husband in a forestry accident at the beginning of the novel and there then follows a superb description of her attempts to cope with the loss. Along the way there are lots of setbacks and dark times and although her situation is not resolved in a tidy way, there is some hope at the end of the book. Don’t read it if you are depressed unless you have a masochistic element to your personality.
Neil Astley, Editor
(Bloodaxe Books, 2004)
This is a poetry anthology divided into sections such as nature, life, death and so on. It has some fantastic new poets in it that I hadn’t come across before as well as some old favourites. I like poetry because sometimes it is the only thing that will do when certain things happen in your life that you struggle with – like losing a loved one or being elbowed by your partner. It’s cheery, too, for the good times and for those of us who have blunted emotions and don’t necessarily want to read about the death of a hedgehog while we’re having our tea.
Moments of Reprieve
(Penguin, 1986; 2002)
By now, I expect you think I am a miserable old bag who only reads sad things – and this book also fits into that category with ease. Primo Levi was a prisoner in Auschwitz during the second world war and this collection of short essays relates his experiences. However, Moments of Reprieve attempts to pull together experiences of people he met that made his life bearable or gave him some hope, from guards who smuggled in food or other prisoners who entertained him. It’s a lovely book about one of the darkest times in our history.
A Christmas Carol
(Chapman and Hall 1843; Penguin Classics 2003)
Good old Charlie. He’s written so many brilliant books, but this epitomises his positive nature and makes me believe that even right wing, grumpy old sods can change their colours and become generous human beings. It also gives an insight into the dreadful conditions and the gap between rich and poor that existed in Victorian times; and the wonderful character of Bob Cratchit, the humble, sweet-tempered, hard-working, put-upon hero is a counter-template for all those horrible bastards whose bitterness at their lot in life is turned into a bad temper and misanthropic philosophy.
Each Peach Pear Plum
Janet and Alan Ahlberg
(Kestrel Books 1978; Viking Children’s Books 1999)
This is a glorious book for children, taking in fairy tales and puzzles, which moves effortlessly from page to page, has fantastic illustrations and can be read over and over again. Robin Hood, Cinderella and the Three Bears are all in there and I’m sure if more kids forced their parents to buy this they wouldn’t be quite so keen on all that Barbie cack that is forced down girls’ throats these days.
The Rough Guide to England
(Rough Guides; 6th revised edition, 2004)
This is an invaluable book when I’m on tour, which gives you a flavour of pretty much every town in England you are likely to visit. Witty and informative it gives you such gems as: ‘Bedford … the town need not detain you.’ (Sorry, Bedford.) Whether you want information about restaurants, things to do, or which beaches have the most dog poo on them, you will find the Rough Guide covers them all. And as I often used to inform the residents of slightly down-at-heel areas: ‘Sorry, you’re not in the Rough Guide to England you’re in the Fucking Rough Guide.’
Joyce Brand’s Common Place Book
(Joyce Brand, self-published)
Due to lack of telly and decent nightclubs, the Victorians used to spend their time gathering their favourite poems and pithy sayings together in a book to give some flavour of the way they wanted people to see them. My mum, Joyce, has continued the tradition. She had it vanity published as she thought it wouldn’t be a massive seller and now has several hundred of the buggers sitting in her attic, as she isn’t actually allowed to sell it. It’s lovely for me, though, to have something personal to keep and I often use it when I am on Countdown as there’s a lot of humour – and, thank god, not much of me in it.
Her selections can be purchased here.
A portion of the sales from purchases made through Red Pepper/Eclector’s book store contribute money to Red Pepper. Not all titles are available.
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
Drax is the UK's biggest source of CO2 emissions – and we're paying for it, writes Almuth Ernsting
For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
Housing campaigners' gains in Bristol are spurring on a national movement to build a renters' union, writes Stuart Melvin
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.
Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.
Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns
The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace