On this day in 1881 Basingstoke erupted in rioting. The cause? The Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army had turned up in Basingstoke the previous year and immediately begun temperance campaigns. So far, so ever so slightly annoying, but their campaigns became rather noisy. Every Sunday they’d march around the town blowing their trumpets, banging their drums and calling out anti-drinking slogans that were as imaginative as “Ban all drink!”. One can only imagine that
religious self-righteousness had taken up the part of their brains where the imagination lived and killed it. The good people of Basingstoke were rather irritated by these marches. Some, who would no more think of going into a public house than they would show off their hairy gardens on the high street, because they did not want the peace of the Sabbath being broken by the noise and the clamour. Others, who liked a pint or eleventeen, were outraged that these dull fuckers were ruining their drinking time and trying to close down their favourite haunts. Something had to give and give it did.
Before the big riot, there had been smaller incidents and there were also a group, who called themselves Massagainians, who followed the Sally Army around the town. They would play home-made instruments, sometimes nothing more than a tin can filled with stones, and sing bawdy songs very loudly, in an attempt to drown out the holy Joes and Josephines. There was something of an incident on 20th March, when 1,000 people gathered in Market Place armed with sticks and cudgels and had a bit of a go at the Sally Army. There were few injuries as supporters of the musical prohibitionists protected them and got them away. Not deterred, the following week saw full-on action from the folk of Basingstoke.
2,000 people turned up, armed as before. There were also 100 special constables there to ensure that things didn’t get out of hand. They didn’t quite manage to do that. It kicked off big time, sticks were flying, blows were being rained upon the Sally Army and high dudgeon was a place being occupied by all those who’d had enough of being told they shouldn’t have a pint or several to enliven their otherwise dull lives (this was Basingstoke after all, it was a bit of a deadly place to live if you wanted excitement). The Mayor (himself a member of a local brewery) had to call in the Horse Artillery, who were stationed in the town, to break up the riot before someone got killed. He then mounted the steps of the Town Hall and read them the riot act. Yes, that’s right! Back in Victorian Britain if you got a bit rioty, you were physically read the riot act. I love the idea of some poor bugger having to read out reams of legalese in an attempt to subdue an angry mob.
Luckily, no one was killed, but there were plenty of injuries and many sore heads that couldn’t be blamed on too much ale. The attempts to rid themselves of the God Squad went on until 1883, but there were no more riots. By 1883, the townsfolk realised that Salvation Army were going nowhere so they might as well get used to having them around. It took a little longer for the Sallies to realise that drinking wasn’t going to be stopped by hymns, pipe and drum. Stalemate, is not a victory, but it is an end of sorts.
And there we have it, dear readers. Even somewhere as boring as Basingstoke has had its moments and its lovely to know that while people might be backwards about coming forward over issues as varied as workers’ rights, social deprivation and the pointlessness of war, can be relied upon to break heads when it comes to the matter of depriving them of a drop of the hard stuff. Basingstoke we would salute you, but then you might think we were all Sally Army and get out your sticks again. So we won’t.
Tarantino is one of those men who you know you’d slap stupid if you had to spend more than ten minutes with him, but he has made a couple of good films. Personally I mostly hate Reservoir Dogs because it’s a rip off and because there’s that whole bit about Like a Virgin which is totally fucking sexist. I love Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, however, so kudos and all that. I’m not keen on Natural Born Killers, which he scripted, but I love From Dusk Till Dawn, especially the bits where we get to see Salma Hayak’s lovely eyes and when he is killed.
I have yet to figure out if Tarantino is an idiot savant or just an idiot, but given that occasionally he gets it spot on he’s probably at the
very least an idiot semi-savant. He used to go out with the wonderful Mira Sorvino and I do feel a bit sorry for her because I imagine that sometimes she must have woken up and seen that face looming over her and thought that a burglar in a bad mask had crept into the house and was going to kill her. I think he’s single at the moment, so no jostling in that queue laydeez!
Whatever his faults, and I don’t blame him for his face because he didn’t ask to be born like that, he does love film with a passion and this makes me like him more than I’m otherwise minded to. He’s also not a big fan of the whole digitization thing, the 3-d thing and other related jiggery-pokery, so this makes him sort of okay (but not quite) in my book.
And so, there remains nothing to say but that elusive genuine happy birthday thing. Happy birthday then, Quentin. If you happen to read this after I’ve submitted a screenplay and you think of ruining my chances in Hollywood because of my scant praise for you, do not. If you do I will cut you.