The very first time I met Chris Dean was as X- Moore.He came to stay with me for a few days in September 1984 after ringing me up to arrange the visit a few days beforehand. At the time I was a striking miner from Westoe Colliery, South Shields,in the Durham coalfield, and a member of the SWP. Chris told me he was writing an article for the NME about the strike, and as an old hippie I read the NME and knew it could help to influence a lot of younger people to our side so I agreed.

He arrived about ten at night and I went to meet him off the bus. I was expecting a long haired old hippie type so when I saw this tall skinhead, complete with Harrington jacket(red), and boxer boots(also red), loom out of the darkness I was a bit taken aback. However, once inside my house we began to talk and we yapped till the early hours ,covering politics, music,politics and where the strike was heading. We got on well, and the next few days were spent in taking him to various picket lines around the county. A few days prior to this I had been arrested for the fourth time, and to my astonishment had been remanded in custody to Durham Prison because the Tory magistrate said I �couldn�t be trusted to stay away from picket lines�. He was right,but also very wrong because after appeal I was released on bail, with the condition that I not go within 200 yards of any picket line in the British Isles. Of course I broke the terms every day but was never captured again.

Anyway, as we travelled around Chris told me of his other career as a musician but I had to confess that I had never even heard the name of his band, let alone their music. He sent me a tape and some records and I really liked them, especially �Red Strike the Blues�.

In November we met again at a gig in Sunderland and Chris and Martin told me of their plan to get me to make a speech in between songs on a live tv show called �The Tube�.We worked out that I�d have about twenty seconds to speak before they sussed us out and stopped us, and the speech was made to fit that time scale. I was to play a tambourine in the background during the first song and come forward after Chris introduced me. I was shaking with nerves but we did it, and I got an excellent reception from the audience. It was only later that we learned about the sound being cut off, but fortunately that gave us even more publicity than we would have got if I had just spoken. All the music press were in touch and did pieces that contained a transcript of what I had said. I had me fifteen minutes of fame and thoroughly enjoyed it. I travelled around the country with the band for a few weeks, making speeches at gigs, and collecting money during the day in workplaces for the Westoe soup kitchen. It was great, and the Redskins gigs were always passionate and full of fire. They were a shit hot live band.

After my first marriage broke up towards the end of the strike Chris very kindly let me stay with him in Willesden until I got myself sorted out. I went to more gigs, played his fabulous record collection, and best of all got to speak to John Peel one night as I was listening to him on the radio! Of course he wanted to speak to Chris but got me instead. Great.

I went on to work for the GLC at the Royal Festival Hall after the strike ended, and was on duty on 31st March, 1986 when the GLC was finally finished off by Thatcher. Billy Bragg did a great gig that night.

So there you have it, my involvement with one of the great bands of the 80�s. Sadly missed,but not forgotten, but if you�re reading this then you know what a great site this is.

NORMAN STRIKE (January 2003).

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