1930s >> 1938 >> no-401-january-1938

A Strike is Fun to Some People

 How the children of the favoured section of society view the bitter struggles the workers wage for improved conditions is illustrated by the following extract. It is taken from Scott’s “Gino Watkins.” Watkins was the fearless Polar explorer who was drowned, while still under thirty, when exploring alone off Iceland in a canoe.

The General Strike referred to was in 1926.

      “He went back to Cambridge for what promised to be a busy summer term. . . . But now another interest came to distract him—the wild rumours and real disturbances in England which culminated in the General Strike. Gino’s delight in the experiences that it brought him was an example of the spirit in which the Prime Minister’s appeal to carry on as if nothing serious had happened was so naturally and successfully obeyed.

       “’We are having a simply wonderful time in the strike,’ he wrote to his father, who was in Switzerland. ‘The first day I became a railway porter and then an engine stoker; it was great fun on the engine, people booing, hissing and throwing stones. At last, to-day, I have been given a definite job, a special constable in the Scotland Yard Flying Squad. Three hundred of us leave to-morrow morning by convoy at 6 o’clock. We are supplied with batons and helmets. Our duty is to sit in large cars and wait till a riot is reported in any part of London, and then we are rushed to the scene. It ought to be simply ripping. I am luckily in a section with all my friends, and a lot of them are coming to sleep on the floor at home. I do wish you were in England; you would enjoy it so much and would probably get great fun in the Army.’

        “And from 1, Onslow Crescent, on May 14th: —

       “ ‘ The next day we had to go at 5 o’clock in the morning to guard the docks in Limehouse, but we did not get a proper fight. We are all going back to Cambridge to-morrow; it will be dreadful, as we none of us feel that we shall be able to settle down for the rest of the term. But I expect there will be some good rags.’ ” (Pages 45 and 46.)

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