Everything Happens in Cable Street

Everything Happens in Cable Street is the title of a new book by Roger Mills that has just been published by Five Leaves Publications. It is one of five new books that they have put out to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street.

I received the text for this book for a review a few months ago, which is published in the pamphlet here. But the welcome arrival of the printed version the other day in the post has prompted me to say something about it now.

When I read the book the first time, I found it spellbinding as it covers so many aspects of local history that has just not been written about, or if they have, have not been connected in the way that they are here.

Dipping into the book again, I have to say it really is a wonderful publication.

Everything Happens is not a book about the Battle of Cable Street in particular, although it is covered in there. It is wide ranging and full of surprises.

There are interviews with Battle veterans that were carried out by the Cable Street Group after the 50th anniversary but have never seen the light of day until now. They make great reading and give some very personal perspectives of both the Battle and life in the street itself.

I have mentioned before on here that my grandfather lived in Cable Street. And in connection with the Battle I was totally and utterly gobsmacked to find an interview with my grandfather’s sister in there which had been conducted in the 1980s, but not previously published. It was a very strange – but wonderful – thing to read as both her and my grandfather passed away quite some years ago.

Roger is one of the original stalwarts of the Cable Street Group, who are organising the anniversary events at Wilton Hall this Sunday.

In many ways the book’s contents reflects the lives and connections of the people around the Cable Street Group and it gives some interesting insights into some of the thorny political issues that have surfaced in Tower Hamlets over recent years.

The story of how the Battle of Cable Street Mural was created is of particular interest.

There is a chapter on the Basement Writers, an eclectic group of authors who were based at the St George’s Town Hall in Cable Street. Mills catches up with one of them, Chris Searle, who gives a retrospective of the school pupils’ strike, that made national news in 1971, when he was sacked from his teacher’s job after defying the school governors and publishing his pupils’ poetry.

The book is a hybrid of oral history and “history from below”. I think it is a real challenge to the stuffy academics with their texts heavily encrypted with footnotes.

Roger is launching the book this Sunday at 3.00pm at Wilton Hall, just off of Cable Street along with the authors of the other Cable Street related books that have been published by Five Leaves.

Why not join us on the march and rally in the morning and then go to the book launch and get your signed copy in the afternoon? See you there!

For details of the Cable Street 75 March and Rally on 2 October click here

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