Saturday, 14 January 2012
Fetching up in Twickenham.
When a ship or craft is aimed at a destination, be it a coastline on the other side of an ocean or a jetty a hundred yards away, the resulting arrival is known as a "fetch". Missing the target is a "mis-fetch" and where we "fetch up" is our final destination, with a vessel or in life. When Harry Gosling retired it was to a house in Waldergrave Road, Twickenham aptly named 'Goodfetch". Apprenticed to his master lighterman father at the age of thirteen it would have been expected that Harry would spend all of his working life on the London River but he was a founder member of the Waterman and Lighterman's Union and soon became a full time union organiser. With Ben Tillett, Harry Gosling was a leader of the 1911 dock strike and it was with Tillett that Harry would go on to amalgamate several unions into the mighty TGWU. A long serving member of the old London County Council, MP for Whitechapel and Minister of Transport in the first ever Labour Government Harry Gosling was every inch the professional politician; and no doubt had many of the inherent failings of that breed. But who today could imagine someone who spent his formative years rowing rafts of timber on the tideway ending up as Minister of Transport? In a world where politics is dominated by Oxford PPE graduates we will not see such men again. After spending a good deal of my working life afloat I seem to have fetched up a couple of hundred yards away from Harry Gosling's final berth. Funny old world innit?