Monday 31 October 2016

Kissing Cousins?

There was a time when Ken Loach, the film maker and icon of the Left; Margaret Thatcher, born Roberts, who went into politics and myself, were doing the same thing at the same time for the same reasons. Were our reactions similar and our opinions of what should be done and was right to be done?

The period was 1940 and later, we were responding to the warning sirens, going to the air raid shelters and avoiding the bombers going over eastern England and heading for Coventry and the West Midlands. The Coventry Blitz is well known,  The Nuneaton Blitz where Ken was only a short distance away is described in this journal.

Another common item was Rugby Union Football, or rugger. Margaret did not play, I suspect that in the modern world she would have made an attacking fly half. Her husband, Denis, became a first class referee. Both Ken and I were at rugger playing grammar schools, thanks to R.A. Butler's 1944 Education Act. His, King Edward VI, was a good team with a decent fixture list.

Rugger in the Midlands was not the preserve of the public schools etc. as in some parts, many of the ordinary working population both watched and played. The Nuneaton town team then was very good having and beating some of England's top teams on its fixture list. Similarly, the Nuneaton Old Edwardians were a strong local team and are still around.

Was this a positive CV item for Ken for his entry to St. Peter Hall in Oxford, not then a College?  I recall when playing against Hall teams at Oxford some public school men having a thing that women could have Colleges when some men didn't. More important was that at both Cambridge and Oxford female company was in very short supply for the students.

Margaret never served in the Armed Forces, although Grantham was the middle of many airfields and camps between 1942 and early 1945. She would have been well aware of the military. Ken did do National Service said to be in The Royal Air Force, The Brylcreem Boys, probably between 1955 and 1957. It was not an ideal time with the Suez Crisis of '56 as well as a great deal of other activity. On 31 October 1956 the RAF bombed Egypt.

Ken, after National Service in 1957 went up to Oxford and signed up with the OU Drama Society perhaps hoping for some romantic Rattigan or Coward. But did he feature in the 1960 Ionescu's "The Bald Prima Donna" in the then fashionable Theatre Of The Absurd? This together with the arty French films etc. around at the time left its mark on his later work.

Margaret when up at Somerville College nearby in the mid '40's went in for politics, another form of surreal drama. Pity really, she might have made a good Mistress Ford in "The Merry Wives Of Windsor". Then she went into research science one of the key team that gave us emulsifiers for ice cream, that great leap into the unknown.  After marriage she decided on law, studying part time for the hard to get qualification as a Barrister.

Ken did a Jurisprudence degree at Oxford. Ken's study of law would have made a world of difference to his career in film making and the media. When it came to the contracts and small print he would have had a grasp of the basics and the detail and could make sure he was right in the same way that Margaret could meet with lawyers and scientists on equal terms.

We know what happened next to the pair of them, but what had happened before in the further past? In this blog the item "Tribune of the Plebians" it was made clear that Margaret was one of the working classes in her family history her father rising to the dizzy heights of a shopkeeper who owned his own shop and Mayor of his town.

Going back to 1851 Ag. Lab's, agricultural labourers appear in her family tree. It is the same with Ken; and his Ag. Lab's are not far from Margaret's. Before then it is difficult to trace much more as is normal and neither has a "gateway" ancestor at that stage although you can never tell what might happen, where or how.

Often it is not what you want to see. Both are likely to have the Yeomen and Husbandmen and small farmers, so many of whom were wiped out by enclosures and who had families who went downward in terms of social mobility.

A possible Thomas Loach appears in the military during the Napoleonic Wars when Britain fought against the domination of Europe. He enlisted for the Coldstream Guards and saw service with Wellington in the Peninsula. Also, he was in London, and would be seen guarding King George III, The Prince of Wales, later Regent and The Bank of England against revolutionaries and republicans.

One hope was that the Ag. Lab of 1851, Charles Loach, gave his place of birth as Snitterfield in Warwickshire, the birth place of the John Shakespeare of the 16th Century, who moved down to Stratford upon Avon and whose son William we know. Sadly, that one did not work out. But on the side of Ken's mum, the Hamlin family had come from Bibury in the Cotswolds.

This is near to Sapperton and the Poole family of the 16th Century one of whom married an Aylesbury of Warwickshire and numbered Whittington's among their families. There were many and various of these. It was a Frances Aylesbury who became a grandmother to Queen Mary II whose husband was King William III. This is a very long shot, but you never know.

More to the point about the Cotswolds was that once it was one of the heartlands and major industrial bases of the Medieval Wool Trade and later. Sadly, under the Stuarts the combination of high taxation, central control of trade and unwise regulation brought it to ruin and the wool trade went elsewhere. The late Professor EM Carus-Wilson of LSE was an authority on this subject, her tract on Merchant Venturers is available on Amazon.

But back to 1851 for another matter. On the same page as Charles Loach is a James Chaplin and a William Hitchcox (Hitchcock?), to raise the eyebrows.

But whether the 57 year old unmarried Ag.Lab Thomas Roberts living next door to Charles is connected is interesting.


  1. "...politics, another form of surreal drama."

    Ha ha. So true, especially across the pond at the moment.

  2. If only it was a pond and the US a lilypad with a frog on it. Unfortunately that frog will be (one of) the most powerful people in the world. It's a joke!