Grumble was a monthly community magazine edited and published (mostly)
by a group of graduates and undergraduates (mainly) from Durham
University. Their editorial office was at 13 Silver Street, Durham
City. In addition to reviews of theatre, films, festivals etc.,
it carried reports of the many community actions and events common
at that time. Its nearest current magazine equivalent is Private
Muther Grumble had a natural affinity with
the South Shields Trades Union Council, and the Claimants Union,
and it generously reported their activities.
It also had a hard non-party political edge
and it famously was the first (in 1971) to expose the corruption
of the Andrew Cunningham dynasty (of the T. Dan Smith, John Poulson
gang), by listing the various public bodies (including chair of
the Police Authority), on which he, or his family, sat.
In 1973, Muther Grumble published an extended
version of the South Shields Trades Union Council leaflet 'A School
Leavers' Guide To Survival' in a 'Schools Out' edition. This outraged
the local authority and some establishment-minded trade unions,
and the local education authorities banned it from schools and
Not surprisingly the publicity given to this
enterprise quickly resulted in the national media taking up the
story. Oddly enough it was reported sympathetically (on the whole).
However, the News of the World, scenting a
political scandal of '"lefties" corruption of youth'
sent reporters to dig the dirt. They failed and their newspaper
published the story largely without prejudicial comment.
The Survival Guide had many successors in many
fields and, with classic survival tactics, the establishment has
itself produced many more respectful versions. Nowadays there are
'survival guides' for almost every activity and human condition
- many of whose authors would be reluctant (or unable) to acknowledge
The Guide attracted international as well as
national attention and has been the subject of research by American
and German, as well as British universities. A copy is held in
the British Library.
Muther Grumble started publication in 1971
and was sold in the pubs and clubs and on the streets of Tyneside
and Wearside. It stopped publication around 1975. It was a real
child of the 60s and the cultural/political climate has never again
(at least not yet) been fertile enough for a re-birth.
Muther Grumble was one of a network of several
alternative community organisations operating in the region. The
Tyne & Wear Resource Centre at Gateshead was another important
The Resource Centres were central government
funded and aimed to assist alternative community action. In retrospect
these were a surprising and brave development from the beleaguered
Labour Government, showing quite a revolutionary perspective -
although it is not certain that the government had this concept
when they authorised the funding.
Thatcher soon put a stop to all this nonsense!
All the 17 issues of Mother grumble are available
on line and can be viewed at: