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Muther Grumble

click for more info.Muther 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 Eye.

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 colleges.

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 original.

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 example.

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:

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