News From Nowhere Club – Programme 2019

Patron: Peter Hennessy

Founded in 1996, the club challenges the commercialisation and isolation of modern life.
‘Fellowship is life & the lack of fellowship is death’.  William Morris

Venue
At the Epicentre, West Street, Leytonstone E11 4LJ
7.30pm Buffet (please bring something if you can)
8.00pm Talk & discussion till 10pm & back to buffet

Travel and Access
Stratford stations & 257 bus, Leytonstone tube (exit left) & 257/W14 bus
Overground: Leytonstone High Road, turn right, short walk
Disabled access, Car park / Bikes can be brought in
Quiet children welcome.
You can phone to confirm the talk will be as shown
Meetings open to all – just turn up
Enquiries 0208 555 5248
Free entry: voluntary donations welcome

PROGRAMME 2019

PROGRAMME 2019

Saturday 12th January 2019
Waltham Forest Animal Protection Warriors! Speakers: Rachel Barrett, Mark Dawes, Margaret Winniak, K-Star
K-Star, Margaret, Mark & Rachel, members of Waltham Forest Animal Protection, will speak about their work in helping animals in our borough & beyond. The group was set up in August 2014. Meetings have included speakers from near & far: from Waltham Forest Cats Protection to Animals Asia. Members have been successful in stopping Aldi from chopping down trees with nesting birds; in removing lethal, bird-trapping netting on buildings; & in encouraging the Council to scan pets killed in road traffic accidents. Along with advice on what to do if you find sick or injured wildlife, topics for debate will include:
• Going vegan is the best way to save the planet
• It’s unethical to experiment on animals
• It’s wrong to use animals for entertainment or sport
• All fur should be banned. The group is campaigning to get the sale of fur banned in Waltham Forest.

Saturday 9th February 2019
Life, the Universe and Everything Else Speaker: Brian Madican
Have you ever wondered about where the universe comes from or how did it come into being? Ever pondered on the meaning of life, what is the purpose of it all, why do human beings exist & other similar questions that have baffled the philosophers down the centuries? Then come along & listen to Brian as he tackles these questions & more in this shamelessly plagiarised, but modestly entitled, talk.

Saturday 9th March 2019
The End of the NHS?
Much Closer Than You Think Speaker: Carol Saunders
In its 70th year, it’s an open secret that the NHS is struggling as never before. We’ve been bombarded with stories about missed targets, bed shortages, staff shortages, A&E & hospital closures & the dire lack of services for mental health patients. But that’s just the headlines. Come & hear the jaw-dropping back-story of how, back in 2013-14, the World Economic Forum drew up a blueprint for dismantling worldwide socialised health services – a blueprint that’s being followed, right now, in the English NHS. Carol is a campaigner with Tower Hamlets Keep our NHS Public / NE London Save our NHS.

Saturday 13th April 2019
George Orwell, the Labour Party and the Left Speaker: Professor John Newsinger
George Orwell was a lifelong socialist. As far as he was concerned, socialism was involved in the achievement of a democratic classless society, a society in which the rich had been altogether dispossessed. His experiences in Spain in the 1930s convinced him that this would require a revolution & he held to this belief through the Second World War, even hoping that the Attlee government might go down a revolutionary road. This talk examines the trajectory of his political thinking & his changing attitudes towards the Labour Party. John Newsinger is Professor of Modern History at Bath Spa University & the author of several books, including the graphic novel, 1917: The Red Year. He is co-editor of the journal George Orwell Studies. His book on Orwell, ‘Hope Lies in the Proles’: Orwell & the Left, came out in 2018. John was unable to be with us last year after all, but will be in 2019.

Saturday 11th May 2019
Drawing the Line Somewhere Speaker: David Lucas
G.K. Chesterton said, “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere”. The same is true of politics.
But ‘drawing the line somewhere’ is not a straightforward business. What is drawing? What is a line? Drawing has a double nature – a line can do two very different jobs. And we see the same divide, between two very different ways of thinking, in politics. Today our society seems cut down the middle. Can art actually point the way toward unity?
Award-winning children’s author & illustrator, David talks about boundaries in art, life, politics & religion.

Saturday 8th June 2019
The Challenges of Migration of Caribbean Women to Britain Speaker: Dr Elaine Arnold
Dr Arnold has worked as a teacher, lecturer, counsellor & psychiatric social worker in Child Guidance; has taught Masters of Social Work students at Goldsmiths College & Sussex University & was a founder member & Director of Training at Nafsiyat (Intercultural Therapy Centre). She researched the adverse effects of separation, loss & sometimes traumatic reunions due to immigration from the West Indies to Britain among some families of African Caribbean origin. This led to the publication of Working with Families of African Caribbean Origin: Understanding Issues around Immigration and Attachment. The mass migration to Britain occurred without adequate preparation of the migrants & of the indigenous people. Nothing was done to help the latter to examine their stereotypical views of black people & to be less hostile to their presence. The migrants could not have anticipated the devastating effects that their experiences of broken attachments, separation & loss of all that was familiar would have upon them. Neither did they envisage the level of hostility based on prejudice & racial discrimination from every level of the communities in which they tried to settle. These experiences deepened their sense of isolation & loss & very often led to irrational behaviour. The intergenerational patterns of avoidant or disorganised attachments seem to be factors contributing to some of the current anti-social behaviour problems of many of the young people of African Caribbean origin. Currently Dr Arnold is Director of Supporting Relationships & Families. She also continues to lecture at various colleges & voluntary groups on the theory of attachment, separation & loss & its applicability to practice in the caring professions.

Saturday 13th July 2019
Vi Gostling Memorial Lecture (part of Leytonstone Festival)
Why private financing of public infrastructure must end & how we can do it Speaker: Helen Mercer
We all now know that no new PFI contracts will be signed following general recognition that the experiment has been inefficient, costly & otherwise disastrous for the quality of our infrastructure & services. This talk focuses on what to do with the PFIs that are being left to run their course until the 2030s, or longer for many. The talk first demystifies financial wheeler-dealing by providing a clear & straightforward explanation of how private profit is spun off from public services, using examples of PFIs which affect people in North East London. Understanding those financial mechanisms has informed an idea currently gaining interest & agreement: that we can end the process entirely by nationalising the ‘Special Purpose Vehicles’, the financial companies which sign the contracts with public authorities. Helen is a retired lecturer in Economics & Economic History & a member of People vs PFI.

Saturday 10th August 2019
Stopping Violence in Our Lives and in Our Communities Speaker: Ashiana Outreach Worker
Imagine being a young woman from a South Asian, Turkish or Middle Eastern background, a victim of sexual or domestic violence or forced marriage, maybe homeless. Where can you turn? The answer is Ashiana, a multi-award winning, unique, innovative charity, well established and situated in Waltham Forest. It provides safe housing, advice and counselling, as well as running workshops in East London schools to raise awareness about domestic abuse and practices such as forced marriage. We will have this special opportunity to learn in more depth and detail about its vital work.

Saturday 14th September 2019
Radical Adult Education Where You’d Least Expect It: ABCA 1941-45 Speaker: Colin Waugh
The Army Bureau of Current Affairs is mainly known for its alleged contribution to the 1945 Labour landslide. However it was also an extremely radical experiment in adult education. Constructed by the ‘radical general’ Ronald Adam & his civilian adviser W. E. Williams, the originator of Pelican Books & later of the Arts Council, & based on a critique of the tutorial class method that had become traditional in the WEA, it set out to engage the highest possible proportion of the army’s three million conscripts in lively discussion, both of how the war was being conducted & of current affairs more generally. To do this it trained many thousands of junior officers in how to conduct genuinely open discussions, as well as producing stimulus material in the form of booklets & maps that still look modern today. Extensive use was also made of drama & film. All this was done in the teeth of opposition from senior politicians & sections of the army high command. At the end of the war, attempts were made to extend approaches developed within ABCA to civilian adult & further education.

Saturday 12th October 2019
Fighting the Cause of Firefighters Speaker: Matt Wrack, General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union
Matt’s political life began in early adulthood, culminating in his 2005 election & two re-elections as head of the FBU. He was listed in ‘The 100 Most Influential People on the Left.’ As a firefighter in Silvertown and Hackney, he was a very active union member. Campaigns and strikes have centred around compensation for firefighters killed at work; climate change and flooding; austerity; the effects of ‘localism’ on the service; reinstatement of suspended colleagues; pay & pension disputes; the Grenfell disaster. He sits on the TUC Executive Committee & featured on a Radio 4 documentary after deciding to take a salary at the average amount of a firefighter. He lives in Leytonstone.

Saturday 9th November 2019
On the Edge – Religions and Radicals on Wanstead Flats Speakers: Peter Williams and Dr Mark Gorman
Local historians Mark & Peter will take us on a fascinating journey through the history of the flats, showing how this semi-regulated space became the base for the free expression of ideas, whether religious or political, at the end of the 19th century. Some notable local characters from Leytonstone stand out. Bushwood, it turns out, was our local Speakers’ Corner. The talk will also discuss how the Conservators, the City of London Corporation, sought to exercise control & some of the court cases that ensued.

Saturday 14th December 2019
Victorian Music Hall Speaker: John Cain
The music halls of the Victorian & Edwardian eras were nothing like how it was depicted on TV in shows like ‘The Good Old Days’. It was a mainly working class phenomenon that developed in the 1830s & developed rapidly during the 19th century. When WWII was finished, I was lucky enough to be taken by my parents every Thursday to Finsbury Park Empire. It was a time when the term ‘Variety’ was used rather than ‘Music Hall’ & I saw my first striptease (Phyllis Dixie) at the age of eleven. In my view, however, the ‘Greats‘ of the real music were mainly gone although people like Max Miller, G.H. Elliot, Eugene Stratton, Norman Evans, Max Miller, etc. were still performing. From 1946 to the early 50s there were music hall revivals with the remaining stars performing their old routines again. I was lucky enough in the early 60s to be involved with Unity Theatre that had a very strong Music Hall tradition that produced groups like Professor Alexander’s Music Hall & Frank Wagland’s & Peter Charlton’s groups. The talk will be about its development, interspersed with songs from the era of Harry Champion, Harry Wincott, Gus Elan etc.