I don’t know why I remembered this now, but back in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s when I was a student at Southampton University, I was a very modest extra in a TV drama. I think it was called ‘There is Always Tomorrow’, a quotation from Trotsky. I remember very little about the plot, but it revolved around some students at the ‘University of Slough’ and their involvement in a Maoist movement. There was to be a student riot during a lecture, and we were required to ‘riot’ in one of the lecture theatres in the Department of Physics. It is quite difficult to riot to order, and I remember that the chap I was pretending to fight with had a big grin on his face as did I.
I did watch the drama on the TV – it was a Play for Today or Wednesday Play or something similar. The riot scene was quite short and I never saw myself although I may well have been in view. I recall that one of the leading players was asked in a TV interview if she was a Slough Maoist. ‘No’, she said, ‘I’m a Mao Maoist!’ And that’s all I remember.
I have Googled the play but all record of it seems to have gone. It was quite relevant at the time of my involvement, because there was some fairly intense genuine left-wing activity at Southampton going on, as there was at Essex University, a place I was to go to a couple of years later. There was a sit-in at Essex when I was a graduate student there, and I had to negotiate a barrier of six-foot metal lockers in order to access my office.
I recall waiting nervously for one of the Essex University firebrands to come to our house as a dinner guest. Somehow I had got to know him vaguely and he had been invited to dinner, along with one or two others, by me and my new wife. He seemed to fill the hallway with his shaggy long hair, black beard and army greatcoat, not to mention his reputation... Every inch the revolutionary. In fact he turned out to be a decent chap. I Googled him recently, and found him, largely hairless, with a white shirt, jacket and tie, teaching sociology and writing textbooks on the subject.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs