Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Deja Vu, Coincidence, Take your Pick.

On January 29th, 1917, the police arrested Mrs Alice Wheeldon, her daughters Hettie and Winifred and Winifred's husband Alfred Mason. The charge, plotting the assassination of the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, using a poisoned dart whilst he was out walking on a Surrey golf course. It was a far fetched almost unbelievable scheme but Mrs Wheeldon, was a known anarchist involved with women's suffrage and her son Willie was a conscientious objector. Though much of the evidence was gained by the use of government agent provocateurs, William Rickards and Herbert Booth, Mrs Wheeldon and her fellow conspirators were sent for trial. Mrs Wheeldon was sentenced to ten years in jail, Mason to seven and Winifred to five; Hettie was acquitted. (Mrs Wheeldon was released after only a few months in prison, Rickards was committed to a mental asylum.)

Mrs Wheeldon ran a second hand clothes shop and lived over the premises in Pear Tree Road, Normanton, a poor area in the town of Derby.
Today's local newspaper headline concerns the arrest of a man in Derby on Tuesday. The fourth arrest in connection with a plot to kill the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Mrs Margaret Beckett local MP was quoted as saying, "I would be sorry that anyone from the city is being considered as having been involved in something so serious." But she would, wouldn't she and of any case she's not originally from Derby so as we say in Derby, "She knows nowt!" Oh, I forgot to mention, the arrest took place in Moore Street, Derby just another street in Normanton, over ninety years on still a poor suburb of Derby. Some things never change.

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