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01 December 2008

Rootin' tootin' Luton

In Luton today, training again. What hard work it was! A large group, quiet and attentive, but just too quiet. No response to my neverfailedbefore banter, and precious little contribution to the discussion. Which is always worrying. Are they really taking it in or just going through the motions? Using the Council chamber didn't help, but there was a passivity about the trainees that was really quite weird.

As for Luton itself, and my first visit there, it would be unfair to comment. All we really saw was the Arndale Centre (blerr) and the Art Deco town hall, which is rather lovely. Here's the story from Wikipedia:
The original town hall was destroyed in 1919 during Peace Day celebrations at the end of World War I. Local people including many ex-servicemen were unhappy with unemployment and had been refused the use of a local park to hold celebratory events. They stormed the town hall setting it alight. A replacement building was completed in 1936.

One of the trainees (who didn't look old enough) told me that the rioters broke into a shop and dragged out a piano, and then sang songs as they torched the old town hall. One of the forgotten moments of radical British history, and presumably very worrying at a time when the threat of Bolshevism was taken very seriously. There's a good article about it here.

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