Monday, November 03, 2014

Naked On A Canadian Headland, Filling In Potholes On Google

People sometimes imagine that the information superhighway is flawless: as smooth as it is broad, with a perfect surface that could put a bowling green to shame. But it isn't: there are imperfections, there are gaps in its coverage, there are potholes on Google. And when we discover such a pothole, we all have a responsibility to fill it in, because the WWW has always been a do-it-yourself kind of enterprise; there are no state tar macadam machines filling potholes for our convenience, nor would any sane person want such things.

Which brings me to a conversation my old mate Arthur and I had on Saturday night.  We were out having a meal at a pub and catching up on over forty years of shared history. Our wives swapped stories of friends and relatives whilst Arthur and I engaged in one of those "remember that bloke who ..." types of conversation so loved by old men. The conversation snaked its way to an organisation we both belonged to back in the late 1960s and early 1970s which was called the Halifax 68 Club. The club met every Thursday night in a local pub and provided an opportunity for people of the left to get together and exchange ideas and enthusiasms. It was not confined to any one political party - some were Labour Party members, some were Communists, some were Anarchists and the odd Liberal would occasionally poke his or her head through the door. Nor was it confined just to politics: I remember discussions on music, art, literature, philosophy and science. It was an asteroid of an organisation - burning brightly in the cultural skies of Halifax for a few years and then fading into obscurity.

The discussion between Arthur and myself on Saturday night had none of the heady gravitas of those discussions of forty-five years ago: it was confined to trying to remember the name of the pub in King Cross where we would meet.  As we sipped out pints and salted our chips, we racked our brains; we recited an alphabet of pub names, we listed monarchs and we conjugated mythical creatures. Eventually I said "Not to worry, I will Google "Halifax 68 Club". And so I did, only to discover that the only match the all-powerful indexing monster could come up with was the address of a nudist club in Halifax, Nova Scotia! The thought of all those long gone revolutionaries being mistaken for a group of Canadian naturists was too much to bare, and salt tears dripped into a couple of beer glasses. We had discovered a pothole on Google. I promised Arthur that I would attempt to fill it in on my first opportunity and that is the purpose of this post. If, ever again, two old men try to remember anything about the Halifax 68 Club, Google should point them to this post rather than leaving them naked and cold on a Canadian headland.

Perhaps I should add, for the sake of completeness and for future searchers of information, that the name of the pub where we met was The Wellington. Looking through my old photographs, I don't seem to have any pictures taken during a meeting, but the one at the head of this post dates from the same period and features the inimitable Tim Enright, who was the moving spirit behind the creation of the 68 Club, delivering a speech to commemorate a Chartist march over the Yorkshire moors.


  1. I'll bet there was no one like Ed Miliband at the 68 Club. I wonder what your fellow members would have made of him? Minced meat, I suspect.

  2. You had me giggling with the nudists in Canada they must be tough to cope with the cold. Everytime you mention Halifax I keep seeing scenes from the show "The last Tango in Halifax" (I think it was called)Love the old photo of the banner holders on the moors. A bit cold there for a nudist camp too.

  3. That's a lovely banner; I wonder if it still exists.
    I've hit the same pothole looking for a childhood friend. The only Google mention of her name is on my blog.

  4. both sound a bit chilly . . .

  5. At least the men in macs in the photo don't look like flashers!

  6. Wonderful photo. I wonder if anyone would still do that?


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