No Milk Terrorist Son (they/them)
- Jul 29, 2012
Thanks for commenting, rover – and welcome to the thread! As I said by PM, I'm really happy to know you're taking the time to catch up and please do feel free to barge in with thoughts on anything, no mayor how old.My apologies for barging in with my comments on an update from page 6... I just read the storming of Cliveden (operation night flight). Revolution is so exciting, especially when viewed through the lens of a televised re-enactment. Thrilling stuff. I'm honestly surprised they managed to keep Churchill from taking up arms. I just imagine his last stand, facing down the workers with a tommy gun, like in that famous picture, until his inevitable demise. Of course, that part wouldn't then make it into the re-enactment to avoid martyrizing the man. Anyhow, back to slowly catching up...
The first CBC reporter on the scene of the disaster was John Humphrys, at that time a young journalist with the corporation’s Welsh arm. He appeared on television visibly upset, describing what he saw as being like ‘a scene from hell’. Millions watched as CBC cameras showed the miners of Ynysowen, raised from the coal seams, digging through the spoil in search of the missing, working meticulously to ensure that their excavations did not lead to further collapse. They were helped by local residents, who had rushed to the junior school with garden tools and, in many cases, their bare hands, to help move the rubble. Around the diggers, ambulance workers, fire fighters and Workers’ Brigade volunteers all worked to help bring the situation under some sense of control. Engineers from British Coal worked to dig a drainage channel to help stabilise the tip, which had been further saturated by the destruction of two water mains during the descent of the spoil into the valley. While they worked, residents of all surviving houses in the west of the village – the side closest to the spoil tips – were prepared for evacuation in case of another collapse, although by 2 pm the tips were stabilised without further incident. Persistent rainfall meant that the threat of another catastrophe was not fully alleviated, but immediate danger had passed. It now fell to the rescue teams, the politicians and – most poignantly – the surviving residents to process the scale of the tragedy.
Somewhere across the water, Jim Bowen is waving his hands in the direction of the United States and shouting “look what you could have won!”
Chairman Bevan spent the night of the disaster in Cardiff. On the morning of November 1, he returned to Aberfan in order to see the village in daylight. He was met there by President Mikardo, who travelled from London and arrived at midday. Separately, Bevan and Mikardo gave brief interviews to the CBC reporters at the site of the disaster on the Tuesday afternoon. The President said some words about the pain of loss, declaring simply that “the Commonwealth grieves”. Chairman Bevan’s distress was more palpable, both in his words and in his appearance. Looking pale, his usual blistering style of public speech was jettisoned in favour of a frank emotional register. For once, the veteran politician seemed almost lost for words. He described the disaster as “the darkest day of my life”, before committing to take whatever action necessary to put things right, telling cameras that he would sanction the appointment of a tribunal to investigate the slippage as a matter of urgency. Cameras then followed the Chairman as he observed the ongoing rescue efforts at Pantglas Junior School, before showing him consoling a pair of grieving mothers.
To those watching on television at home, particularly those old enough to remember the hushed official response to the catastrophe at Windscale, the footage of Bevan meeting with the bereaved of Aberfan gave a sense of the scale of the change that had swept through the Commonwealth over the past five years. Before, government figures confronting disaster so openly would have been unthinkable. Bevan’s public commitment to an inquiry was a far cry from Harold Macmillan’s terse suggestion that the Windscale fire had been an ‘error of judgement’. No doubt the incumbent chairman keenly recalled the lessons of the 1957 disaster, which proved resistant to cover-ups and sparked an opposition movement that ultimately brought about Mosley’s downfall. By getting out in front of the cameras and dealing in the view of the public, Bevan would have been eager to forestall the development of any similar opposition. Unfortunately for him, it was never going to be so simple. As was beginning to become clear, the same commitment to transparency that the government hoped would save it from harm could also be used to apply pressure like never before. Clearly, the Aberfan disaster had laid the groundwork for a confrontation that would decide the character of the Commonwealth for years to come. Chairman Mosley’s history had demonstrated how fatal these sorts of confrontations could prove for those in power. For Bevan and his ministers, the race was now on to ensure that theirs would be a different fate.
Glad to have you back with us, @Le Jones – and thank you for your kind words! I’m pleased to know that the Aberfan “plot line” is resonating with you. It’s been a long time coming, and for many reasons (most will be fairly self-evident, I’m sure) it’s one which I’ve been quite anxious about tackling. There were plenty of rewrites and I still wasn’t entirely happy with the end product, so thank you for the vote of confidence. If I can do any sort of justice to the tragedy then that’s a job well done in my book.Right, so, like @El Pip real world nonsense has diverted me from this. @DensleyBlair and @99KingHigh , you've been busy!
While @99KingHigh has been his trademark brilliant in portraying an America giddily plunging off the cliff, I want to focus on some of the UK. I found your portrayal of Aberfan both moving and, well, plausible; from Bevan's (understandable) horror
Tragic, heartbreaking, brilliantly written. I had to factcheck Humphrys, I didn't realise that in our TL he was the first reporter at Aberfan.
This is, I have to say, the bit of your feedback that I take the most heart from. The fact of Bevan of all people presiding over government when Aberfan takes place is, of course, poignant for all sorts of reasons – as you astutely point out. Much of the political tragedy, for me, is not simply the vanishing optimism of those early post-Mosley years, but more than that just how gravely the shortcomings of the whole reformist system have been exposed. These are, as you say, Bevan’s people, and if he can’t protect them then, well, which chairman could?
Everyone is employed but everyone is also a wage slave and dying of pollution and over work.It’s possibly a case of, as Paul Simon once said, “things look worse in black and white”. But then again also probably not… those terraces are not going to be very salubrious by any means.
Bevan looks pretty happy though
Now you mention it, there is something of the ‘nefarious mill owner’ about it…I get the "boy done good" vibe, or even the "I never forget my roots" angle that is often thrown around, but to me it looks like he has just bought the town and is about to flatten it for a supermarket development.
"You might not have jobs, but we've a 2 for 1 on Findus ready meals"...
Not that this is a didactic tale about the limits of the parliamentary method or anything, but I thought I couldn’t very well round things off without showing Bevan engaged in some head-scratching appeasement of diehard parliamentarians.Even a socialist government is incapable of treating the Welsh with any sympathy, and Miners with any common sense.