If you've seen the film Pride, you'll recognise the phrase Pits and Perverts. In short, it describes the support given by the lesbian and gay community to striking UK miners during 1984 - 1985.
I'm old enough (cough) to remember the strike. For part of that time I was at university in Wales, which had a large and important coal mining industry. An abiding memory is of my younger self sitting in a pub and watching footage of the pitched battles between the police and striking miners.
The early to mid 1980s was a strange time to come of age, to cross the line over into young adulthood. In London, where I grew up, there was a feeling that we were living during an era when anything was possible, that the world was changing. There was a certain excitement in the air. Yet, in other parts of the country, people were fighting for their very existence. The scene in Pride where tins of meat were being raffled so a family could eat? Yes, things like that happened. I have friends who lived through the strike, and what they saw, and experienced, seared their memories and their souls.
But back to the film. It's become an all-time favourite of mine, up there with Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita and Do the Right Thing (yep, a bit of an odd collection there). The bookshop that features in the film, Gay's The Word, exists. I know it does, because I was there just a couple of days back to hand over a consignment of books. Yes! I'm in a real bookshop, not just a virtual one and bouncing around in the ether. And you know what? I am very proud to have a little toe hold, tiny though it is, in this wonderful, inspirational and important place. If you're in London, whether you live or work there, or you're just passing through, do yourself a favour and go along. Have a browse and buy a book - even if it isn't one of mine!
A E Ryecart
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