Mill workers’ protest

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I wonder how many shoppers and visitors walk past this modern statue in Preston, in the North West of England, thinking about catching a bus or train, meeting friends and family for lunch or rushing to buy the latest bargains. We so often take for granted familiar sights but this particular sculpture tells a disturbing story.

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Back in the 1840s, poverty was widespread in Britain. Preston, a cotton mill town, was one of those places affected by a depression in the country. To make matters worse for over-worked and under-paid workers, the mill owners decided to reduce wages.

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As you can imagine, mill employees weren’t happy. On August 13, 1842, cotton workers went on a protest march in the town centre. This was part of the General Strike, which took place across the country. Unfortunately, the military were waiting for them. They met the protesters at a location called Lune Street and, while attempting to break up the crowd, the soldiers shot – and killed – four men.

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This happened at the spot where the monument now stands. The 1842 Memorial Statue, built in 1992 by Gordon Young, marked the 150th year of the Lune Street protest.

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As I said earlier, we become accustomed to familiar sights in our familiar towns and cities but delve a little closer and it’s possible to step back into time and find out about the people of yesterday and their lives.

For a more detailed account, read: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lep.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/lune-street-the-land-that-time-has-forgot-1-4834634/amp

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The story of the angry 😔 face

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My friend came to visit recently and we had a fantastic time catching up and visiting scenic places near me. But she was preoccupied and the reason behind it was an angry face.

Users of Facebook will know that, a few years back, they changed the reactions to posts from just ‘like’ to emojis depicting ‘sadness’, ‘anger’, ‘laughter’ and so on.

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Well, my friend, H, posted a comment on her Facebook friend’s post. The comment, seemingly innocuous, received an angry face emoji.

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Why had Mr Angry appeared? My friend responded with another comment, fearing she had upset her Facebook friend. After a silence, she added to her response, and then feared she was making the situation worse and offending more with each new comment.

We discussed and went around in circles, debating the potential reasons behind the worrying emoji. Had H offended? Was the Facebook friend easily offended? Could she have made a mistake? (But then why the silence, queried my friend). Was she referring to a previous comment and was actually agreeing with a statement H had made?

A few days later, the riddle was solved.

A mistake, a simple mistake. Mr Angry’s face had been pressed by accident, unleashing all his fury and bringing confusion and concern into the world. 😡

Easily done.

And I wondered if there were two lessons here. Was it too easy to press the buttons on our technology, our social media and text messages, not realising how a tiny mistake can lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication and potential break-up of friendships.

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And is it also too easy for us to fear other people and their reactions to what we say or write or do? So often, I have worried that a late text, message, email or letter meant that the person concerned did not like me or I had offended them in some way.

So many examples of my fear yet so few times I can definitely say, I upset so-and-so and they are no longer speaking to me.

It is a balance, I think, between trying to be considerate and compassionate and also being oneself and not worrying what other people think. I’m still on that learning curve!

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