In the Beginning (The day the lights went out Book 1)

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  2. Vicki Lawrence - Wikipedia
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Benn remembered these meetings as "the most interesting discussions I ever attended in my life". As an experienced journalist, Beckett keeps things fresh by interviewing as many of the major players as he can. He doesn't get to Thatcher, but his encounters with Heath snotty , Jones dry but idealistic and Jayaben Desai, focus of the Grunwick strike frail but passionate - to name but three - are well observed and informative.

Beckett also visits various key locations, such as the Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland, the now-demolished coke plant at Saltley near Birmingham which saw the first successful use of mass picketing , and the disused aerodrome at Watchfield in Oxfordshire - the site of the first and only government-sponsored Free Festival in In most cases the action has gone elsewhere, with poignant results - as in the case of a nearly deserted workers' paradise, the TGWU holiday centre in Eastbourne, or the foundations of Heath's failed techno-city at Maplin sands, now largely claimed by the elements.

Even the one successful 70s new town, Milton Keynes, has the problems of other, older developments. Utopias rarely work, but the aspiration towards a better life is a human necessity. Beckett's meta-narrative here is that currently popular genre, the personal journey. Born in , he revisits the country of his childhood with a sense of longing: "politics was rawer and more honest". Visiting Hull to talk to a union leader about the winter of discontent, he observes that "British politics is a shrunken thing compared to the seventies".


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This approach allows only one mis-step: an all-too-brief chapter about the hard-left student politics of the day, "Marxism at Lunchtime", that relies entirely on the experience of Beckett's cousin. How that kind of radicalism infused British life is a fascinating story. But in general, this is a generous, passionate book that reclaims the past with clear thought and a gripping, well-paced narrative. When the Lights Went Out makes it clear that, on one level, is not Three things:. These three are interlinked, but they are also separate, like the three legs of a three-legged stool.

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You need all three to create a solid system that will propel you to writerly stardom. All writers need material. And lucky for us, writing material is virtually limitless!

You just need to know where and how to gather it. For more ideas on this topic, check out this article:. Now what?

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Vicki Lawrence - Wikipedia

It ought to go without saying, but sometimes folks need a reminder:. Writers write. Well, aside from literally just sitting down and typing or writing longhand, if you prefer , here are a few tips to help you create a system and environment that compels you to write, instead of dithering about how to get going:. These are just suggestions.


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You may want to imitate one, some, or all of these ideas, but whatever you decide, just pick one and get started. Writing is a craft, and like any other craft, it has rules and recognized levels of proficiency. Not everyone who picks up a pen or types words on a keyboard is a good writer. You just have to get better at writing. And there are so many things you can do to get better at writing. And you can just read a lot of good writing and write a lot and become a better writer by osmosis. But there are problems with this kind of mentality:.

If you want to get good at anything, you need to learn how to learn. This is true in writing too. You need mindful, deliberate practice to improve. Of course, all writers need to get a few basic things down first: grammar, spelling, and the like. Another important skill all writers need to hone is the ability to think clearly.

Writers are teachers, which means we need to be able to think logically from point A to point Z, and show others how we came to that conclusion. Learning how to hone your craft is a topic that I could probably write hundreds of articles on, so for now, I will leave it at that. For more ideas on deliberate practice, you can check out this article:. I wrote when I felt like it.

No wonder I made no real progress as a writer. But everything changed when I started using a system. I wrote a novel, a musical, and over posts in less than a year. I gained over a thousand followers and became a top writer in 8 categories on Medium. I read, on average, three books a week. On various topics. The three television channels closed down early at Trade at fishing-tackle shops and golf courses boomed. That has been our way in the past, and it is a good way.

And of course he lost. Another strike two years earlier had ended when another intervention this time by the specially summoned Wilberforce Inquiry awarded the miners 20 per cent. Sheer weight of numbers eventually beat them; pickets, including Arthur Scargill, had travelled long distances. In , 43 per cent of the British workforce belonged to a union.

In , the figure was 54 per cent halved to It made sense to join one. Power within unions had migrated down the hierarchy to the shop floor — the number of shop stewards quadrupled — and the simple mechanism of industrial action not only brought material rewards, but also a kind of spiritual uplift. Trade unions became an immovable fact of everyday life; they were, as Beckett writes, at their zenith.

It became obvious, however, that governments needed the assent of trade unions to succeed. Together with capital and government, they made up the wobbly three-legged throne on which Heath sat. Opinion polls decided Jones was the most powerful man in Britain. But the economy was different then. Most of the heavy industry and infrastructure were publicly owned. British power stations and steel plants burned British coal. British-owned factories still made ships, cars and lorries, railway locomotives and textiles. We smoked British brands of cigarettes, drank our own Watneys, ate our own sweets.

Not all of these products were flawless and often the quantities they were made in were diminishing, but they moored Britain to ways of thinking and living that were all its own. On the day Britain joined the EEC in , the Daily Mirror published a survey into British attitudes towards the social changes that membership might bring.

Only 18 per cent of those polled favoured all-day pub opening, only 23 per cent regular wine with meals, only 13 per cent continental breakfasts over bacon and eggs, only 5 per cent Sunday shopping.

When The Light Went Out

This might suggest a reasonably happy — if high-fat — contentment with the way things were. In fact, a low-energy fatalism had overcome large parts of an elite that once believed change, particularly economic change, to be both essential and possible. Failing manufacturing industries were kept alive by state subsidy.

Sterling crises were never far away. There was inflation on the one hand and unemployment on the other, see-sawing problems that were difficult to tackle together if one went down, the other went up.

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Beckett quotes a conversation, recorded in a diary, between two senior civil servants in Sometimes when I go to bed at night I think that if I were a young man I would emigrate. It was around that time that pessimism became a general condition, though the middle classes felt it most keenly. Inflation ate into savings, share dividends dwindled, a three-year slump in property prices, from to , devalued homes.

During the mids, according to Beckett, declinism. It filled doomy books. It became a melodramatic staple for newspapers, magazines and television programmes. It darkened the work of artists, novelists, dramatists, film-makers and pop musicians. It soured foreign commentary on Britain. And it shifted in tone; from the anxious to the apocalyptic. What I remember is the kind of hush that comes down in a fog.