1 - Introduction

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  • introduce yourself and the show
  • say what your motivation is for learning and wanting to share this history
  • read the two quotes

songs, poems, quotes and stories - it is nice to teach the audience a chorus or two from songs used later in the show to get them singing early on. We suggest 'Manchester Rambler' and 'John Ball'.

“History is the fundamental source, especially for young people, of human memory. It affects everything in terms of attitudes, values and political decisions.” Professor Tom Devine – University Of Edinburgh

“The first step in resistance is a history lesson – it’s not a lesson written for us, but one we write ourselves.” Professor Simon Critchley – New School For Social Research and Tilburg University, Netherlands

Note - we tend to credit these two quotes to 'leading contemporary thinkers' rather than giving them names and titles which is currently overly biased towards male academics - does anyone have a good quote from a women which would do the job?

washing line

  • Yea olde days, battles, swords, Romans and Henry VIII's wives
  • England has a great empire
  • First and Second World Wars
  • England still great (without Empire)

(hang at the start and then take down at end of introduction)

Sample text

Hey, welcome to 'Three Acres And A Cow'... which is a history of land rights and protest in folk song and story. In the next {period of time} we are going to cover over a thousand years of people's history in England, filling in some of the gaps (perhaps even gaping holes?!) in your understanding of history.

Now, the song part is very important... you should all have a songbook {on your chair} and we are looking forward to teaching you a few songs, some you might know and some you won't... and the ones you know, it is likely that you might not understand their radical and historical significance due to a lack of context to place them in... hopefully we'll sort that out!

…This is a good point to inform you that I've recently read in both a scientific journal and a newspaper (so it must be true!) that singing in groups is very good for your health... so whilst there is no pressure to join in, you can probably cover all of your five a day in the next couple of hours and make up for staying out late at the disco last night!

..let's begin by learning the choruses from a few songs we will sing later.... (sing a few bits of songs)

Ok... ...so behind us is the washing line of history and hung up on it at the moment is a rough overview of my historical knowledge when I left school... we've got 'Yea olde days, battles, swords, Romans and Henry VIII's wives'... why it is still deemed so important that kids are still asked to memorise how Henry VIII's wives died is a mystery to me!

Then we have 'England has a great empire' and then moving swiftly on... we have 'First and Second World Wars'... Perhaps if you were lucky via a bit of Victorians, when the poor people were really poor...

Now I am not sure if you noticed but there is a bit of a bit gap there... You know, like 400 years or so... Anyways... We end up over here with 'England still great (without Empire)'...

Note the reoccurance of the word 'great' everywhere... It even made it into the title of the country as 'Great Britain'... and I can't think of any other countries which have such a bold adjective in its name... Superb France... Amazing Poland... Hmmmm....

It did not take long for cracks to start appearing in my world view... One memory I have is of being in San Francisco at an independence day party... My friend asked me if I knew what the party was for and I was quite surprised when he told me it was celebrating independence from Britain... I mean, why would anyone want to independent from Great Britain? We gave the world Shakespeare and Cricket and Scones...

I'd like to frame the show with a couple of quotes from leading contemporary thinkers...

“History is the fundamental source, especially for young people, of human memory. It affects everything in terms of attitudes, values and political decisions.”

“The first step in resistance is a history lesson – it’s not a lesson written for us, but one we write ourselves.” Right... lets have a go at that shall we?!