Howard Andrews' Century
"BUGGIES FOR PEACE,
SAY NO TO TRIDENT"
veterans like Andy just won't lie down!
JUST when I think I might get away with telling friends and comrades I'm "feeling my age" and might need to take a rest, along comes yet another report of some activist many years older than me who just won't lie down.
West Country trades unionist and socialist Dave Chapple has written to tell friends that International Brigader Howard Andrews, of Taunton, Somerset, England, known to his pals as Andy, will be 100 on the 15th February this year.
Dave has tried to persuade Andy to let them hold a "party occasion" to celebrate his centenery, but Andy said he did not want the fuss and performance.
"Andy has had a few problems with his health lately, including a fall, but he is in reasonably good shape, and continues to live by himself and look after himself, which includes all the cooking and shopping. He just has a 'home-help' come in to clean for an hour a week.
"On 11th February Andy is going into hospital for an operation- but he expects to be out for his birthday!"
Only last Autumn Andy made it to Spain to spend a week with comrades commorating the fight against fascism in Spain. It was in August 1936, after attending a rally in Trafalgar Square, that the young Communist from Kilburn talked it over with his brother in the Independent Labour Party, and decided to go out with Medical Spain for Spain.
He had already served in the British Royal Army Medical Corps(RAMC), joining as a teenager to escape poverty. It was an education. In Mumbai he watched women, some with babies on their back, loading coal onto ships. In Shanghai, in the same year 1926 of the general strike in Britain, British troops guarded business interests before Chiang Kai Shek suppressed the workers.
In Spain, Andy worked in a clinic near the Ebro front where they took care of the wounded. Local people helped him with supplies. Being a hospital did not prevent them being bombed and strafed by Italian planes.
After serving in the Royal Artillery during World War II, Andy decided in 1955 to move out to Taunton, Somerset, where he worked in the hospital and revived a branch of the health workers' union COHSE. He became branch secretary, and delegate to Taunton trades union council until his retirement.
Recently he attended a meeting of the Taunton Peace group, and successfully proposed an Anti-Trident nuclear missile protest outside his old workplace, Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital, which will go ahead after his birthday.
Recently a Civil Servant called about the question of a centenary telegram message from the Queen of England: Andy told him that he didn't want a telegram, saying that:
' Me and the Royal Family haven't been friends for ages.'
Maybe some of those in the movement who have queued for honours should take note of this example!
If anyone wants to send a Birthday Card or greeting to Andy (Howard Andrews) you can get more information and discuss it with Dave Chapple -
Meantime, I'm not even two thirds as old as Andy, and having cried off two meetings and one very attractive social invitation last week on account of having "a bad leg", I'd better watch it or friends will be accusing me of "coming the old soldier" or sarcastically offering to buy me a buggy.
On a more serious thought, the 20th century should have been the century of people like Howard Andrews. It was stolen by the likes of Franco, Hitler, and Stalin too. Andy has more than earned his longevity into this century. He has deserved better than for this to be the century of Bush and Blair. Let's take inspiration to make it not.