SOLE has discovered Essex library staff have lost their only perks. Staff were previously exempt from fines for overdue items and charges on CDs and DVDs. Andrew Coburn, a qualified Librarian with over thirty years service to Essex County Council, who now campaigns for libraries as a SOLE activist and as treasurer at the National Library Campaign said:-

‘The only privileges that staff had have now been removed. This change was announced just before Christmas and came into force on 1 January – it seems that Scrooge is alive and well in Essex County Council. Apart from anything else, the entitlement allowed staff to examine new books and DVDs more freely, which in turn helped them to further advise library users. It seems a petty step to take – it will result in little extra income for the Council and is another blow at staff morale which must be low…

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London Bookfair 2020 calls for artist contributions

Cautiously pessimistic

From Freedom News:

Since the announcement of the return of an anarchist bookfair to London, the Bookfair2020 collective has been busy preparing for the event to be held in October 2020. So far, the organising collective has formed, and the venue has been secured. Now, Bookfair 2020 crew are asking for contributions from artists to come up with visuals for the event. If you are an artist and would like to have your art spread across radical/anarchist spaces, this is an offer for you!

Here is what Bookfair 2020 has to say:

Bookfair 2020 signals the return of a distinct anarchist bookfair to London.

The event is being held in October 2020 in North London. We are looking to provide a powerful, vibrant and diverse bookfair, and this begins with the visual tone we set in our posters.

To this end, we are asking creative comrades to consider helping…

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nan - 13

Mid to late 1980’s, anarchists in the North East were affiliated to the Northern Anarchist Network, and previous to that the North Eastern Anarchist Federation during the late 1970’s to early 1980’s. Both groups encompassed those from throughout Northern England, Yorkshire, etc to the Borders and southern Scotland. Pictured is one of the NAN bulletins we have. Others include numbers 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13. Obviously we always on the look out for any missing numbers..if you can help please get in touch.

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Margaret Mullarkey; working class, Boltonian, IBRG activist

lipstick socialist

Margaret M 1 Margaret

In archiving the history of IBRG it is noticeable how many women were active as national officers as well as playing a more hidden role as the backbone of the organisation at a branch level. Margaret was one of the latter – she was a working class woman from Bolton with a big smile and a beautiful local accent.  She never attended national meetings – except when they were in the northwest – and at one of the biggest in Manchester she was not there – she was organising the crèche.

But in her branch alongside Joe, her husband, she played a significant role in all their activities. She combined it with being a mother of four children.  Her life shows how being involved in politics can,  not just change society,  but change one’s own life. Together, and as part of IBRG locally and nationally, they took on anti-Irish…

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Movie Review: 1917

Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement

Drama comes from giving somebody a task then putting obstacles in his/her way. This fundamental aspect of storytelling is understood in ‘1917’ a new movie about the experiences of a soldier in World War 1.

Its April of that year and in a reversal of Saving Private Ryan, a single soldier is sent to rescue a group. A disastrous attack is being planned and the chosen Tommy must cross no-mans-land to deliver a message calling it off. The added incentive, in this case, being that his own brother is among the battalion in danger. He takes another soldier with him and they set out on the mission together. That’s the story.

There is no character development as you might get in other Ur-quest narratives. Here the growth is not internal, it’s simply a matter of geography. In case that is seen as shallow, Director Sam Mendes employs a few techniques to help us empathise. The most obvious one is a pseudo-single take that repeatedly places the camera behind the protagonists at either waist level or shoulder height to give us the feeling of being along with them for the ride. This also works by using the standard horror movie approach of not showing us what the imminent danger is immediately but visually drip-feeding us until we get the big reveal. Likewise, the overbearing soundtrack that shouts out how we are meant to feel, instead of letting us work that out. Another is tracking shots to give an additional sense of propulsion. It is manipulative but only in the sense that any constructed artwork is a manipulation. Since it is well executed, it works to overcome the inherent weaknesses of the scenario.

Mendes has a strong visual sense both in terms of compositions and pallete. He is capable of finding a strange lyricism in the every day (remember the plastic bag in American Beauty?). Here he takes the two leads and pushes them through an abandoned dugout. They overcome literal obstacles following an explosion and come out from the actual underworld and cross over into a figurative styx -like underworld. The obvious and traditional way (the classic example being All Quiet on the Western Front) to go at this point would be to throw a one-sided array of World War1 signifiers at us (rats, mud, rotting corpses, barbed wire, rain) to let us know war is hell. All of those feature but Mendes reaches deeper to a less obvious set of imagery. Without wishing to spoil anything, this includes languid views of cherry blossoms in a desserted farmhouse and later a river, an airplane crash, the blood draining from a soldiers face, a severly bombed-out village at night, a fire, and a soldier singing a gospel song. All of these are exquisitely framed and look beautiful yet the collective result is one that adds a kind of morbid creepiness to the feel of proceedings. The metaphysical implications of the protagonists crossing the suggestively named no-mans-land and then being placed in an often dream-like environment is admittedly hard to quantify but it is there, and is far more effective than the simplistic techniques already mentioned.

The story rolls along to its conclusion with the audience still largely onboard. That being the intention, the mission of the film-makers is successful. It is technically well made and acted and to the extent this can be said to honour the memories of those who died, it is also successful. However, you may not necessarily learn much about World War 1 from this movie or why so many workers in uniform went out to kill other workers on behalf of King and Country. Perhaps by keeping the subject of this war in the limelight by existing at all, ‘1917’ might cause a few viewers to take sufficient interest in the topic to use it as a springboard to do just that. Hope so.


Library users across Essex have expressed concern that the number of books continues to decline in Essex libraries, prompting campaign group SOLE to submit a Freedom of Information request on changes to book stock over the last year. Alan Fricker in Loughton said:-

‘”As a Loughton Library user I have been shocked by the removal of books from the local stock. This includes popular items such as cook books that are now much reduced in number. I have often borrowed these in the past. A library without decent book stock is unable to meet the needs of the town. Particularly concerning is the apparent loss of local history materials – these are rarely available online and a vital local resource.”

A Freedom of Information request previously revealed Loughton Library saw a drop of books from 70,964 in 2007/08, to 41,804 in 2017/18.*

A spokesperson for the Loughton and District Historical…

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