Peter Rhodes on tinkering with history, the Midlands' own Peterloo and the unfairness of being blissed out

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Why tinker with history?

Flag? What flag?

I AM about to describe something that some of you will recognise instantly and others will not. The strange part is that no-one knows what percentage of people experience ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It's a sort of pleasurable, fuzzy tingling sensation in the scalp. It can be induced by stimuli like a soothing sight or the sound of a voice.

SCIENTISTS say this sensation seems to be related to a lowering of the heart rate and describe it as "a really complex emotional state that some people have and some people don't." Further research is planned. In the meantime, those of us who get the blissed-out state known as ASMR can only pity those who don't. Whoever said life was fair?

YES, I get the argument that the 1969 moon landing was an achievement for all mankind (and womankind, naturally). Even so, it seems bizarre that the new film, First Man, deliberately leaves out the moment when Neil Armstrong planted the United States flag on the lunar surface. The Canadian star, Ryan Gosling, says the landing "transcended countries and borders." Maybe. But the flag planting happened and why tinker with history? It is the equivalent of a movie about Trafalgar with Nelson lying mortally wounded and not saying anything at all to Hardy.

I REFERRED last week to Peterloo, the killing of peaceful protestors in St Peter's Field, Manchester, by soldiers in 1819, the subject of Mike Leigh's latest film. A number of readers have asked, what about The Midlands' own version - Cinderloo?

YOU may not have heard of Cinderloo. It doesn't even get a mention on Wikipedia. But in Feburary 1821, 18 months after Peterloo, civilians and military clashed once again. Thankfully only two people died in this incident, although one of the ringleaders was later hanged. So does Cinderloo, an affray on the cinder banks of industrial Dawley, bear comparison with Peterloo? Hardly.

THE essence of the fated demonstration in Manchester was that it was entirely peaceful. The 60,000 attending to demand political reforms were asked to bring along the kids to make it a family event, to come unarmed and leave even their sticks at home. The killing of 15 protesters and the wounding of hundreds more by cavalrymen was unforgivable then, and now. The Dawley incident was not about political reform but wages. Cinderloo involved disgruntled miners, some armed with sticks, who pelted the yeomanry with stones and cinders, inflicting injuries before the soldiers opened fire. It was a tragedy and an incident worth recording on Britain's rocky road to reform but while Peterloo profoundly shocked the whole nation, Cinderloo did not.

AT least one movie reviewer at the Venice Festival swallowed the conspiracy-theory line that Peterloo is "often omitted from the history books." Find a history book. Go to the index. Look under P. See? Peterloo was there all the time. Don't mistake your own ignorance for conspiracy.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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