In the pub last night talking to friends, one remarked about the number of campaigns I promote on facebook and twitter [and of course blog about!] This led to jokes [these were the friends from uni days and we all know each others' political views, religious views and favourite authors] and the word 'ranter' came up in the same sentence as my name....
I feel quite proud to be allied to the Ranters, who were individuals in the times of the English Civil War who roamed about the countryside and preached their individual beliefs. They became known collectively as 'Ranters' and my favourite is Abiezer Coppe. More about the Ranters and further reading and links can be found at this website: http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/glossary/ranters.htm A link on that website takes one to a site about Abiezer Coppe where his story is fully told. One comment about him says:
Coppe and his followers alarmed the clergyman Richard Baxter and other Puritans with "filthy lascivious practices" such as "roaring, drinking, whoring, open full-mouthed swearing". Coppe was also denounced for preaching in the nude and for committing adultery.
Quite a character!
Coppe was eventually arrested and at his trial:
On 1 October 1650, he was brought for questioning before a parliamentary committee. During his examination, Coppe apparently feigned madness: he mumbled and talked to himself when questioned and is said to have flung nutshells and fruit about the room. The committee sent him back to Newgate and he was never brought to trial.
Many Ranters became Quakers although I don't think Coppe would have qualified for membership of the Society of Friends, when he was eventually released from prison he returned to his original Baptist beliefs and became a physician. Please follow the links and read more about him and the other Ranters because they are so interesting!
The musician Leon Rosselson wrote a great song about Abiezer and folk singer Roy Bailey* performs a wonderful version of it, clicking on the blog title above will take you to the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLLzbEx7gDg which shows Roy performing it. It also shows Tony Benn and is taken from one of their 'The Writing on the Wall' performances which give a 'history of dissent' in the form of narratives by Tony interspersed with songs by Roy. It is well worth buying the CD of these 'gigs' to hear the song properly and listen to the rest of the great songs and Tony's narration**. The photo above is of the CD [courtesy of amazon.co.uk]
Perhaps I should express my thanks to the present Coalition Government for giving me so many opportunities for causes of which to rant and support. At the moment there are several which I would love you all to support with me:
Petition to save our Coastguard services:
Petition to save the BBC World Services:
Petition to save the forests from privatisation:
Maybe I should include a 'rant of the day link' in these blogs. What do you think?
**Recorded live at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2000 this CD is a good substitute for those who haven't yet managed to catch their show and a fine reminder for those who have. Benn's contribution is a skip through the history of resistance to oppression and exploitation in England from the Peasants' Revolt of the 14th century up to the present day.... All this is interspersed with and illustrated by, songs from folk-singer Roy Bailey At the end of the first half Bailey had the audience singing the chorus of one of the west's most famous revolutionaries.
Socialist Review March 2005
If you listen carefully Elizannie and Other Half are singing along in the crowd!
Please don't look for Elizannie on twitter and facebook - I 'assume' a different name on those sites!