22 June

Windrush Day

Journey of Brothers

So we are drinking a...

Journey of Brothers

Today marks the arrival of migrants from Caribbean islands aboard the Empire Windrush, dropping anchor at Tilbury Docks in Essex, England, and releasing its 1,027 passengers this day in 1948.

The UK had labour shortages following years of devastation during WWII. Over the following years and decades, migrants arrived from Commonwealth countries; many finding jobs in the NHS, public transport and manufacturing, helping rebuild the UK and the country's economy.

Known as the Windrush Generation, this includes those aboard the eponymous ship and those that followed from Commonwealth countries through until 1971, estimated by Oxford University's Migration Observatory at 500,000 migrants. Among them were children, travelling on their parents' passports, without their own travel documents.

Following changes to immigration law in 2012, people living in the UK had to confirm their immigration status with official documentation requiring migrants and their families to prove their legal status to work, access benefits including healthcare, and rent a property. But thankfully, under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.

However, two years prior, in 2010, the Home Office destroyed all landing cards belonging to Windrush arrivals. No other records were kept by the Home Office which meant Windrush arrivals and their families found it extremely difficult or impossible to prove their legal status.

Government immigration policy led to thousands of legal UK citizens of the Windrush Generation, despite living in the UK for decades, wrongly fired from jobs, denied healthcare, and ultimately, facing arrest and deportation.

People of the Windrush Generation were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants, due to the lack of official paperwork, and told they didn't have the right to remain in the UK. This led to the Windrush Scandal and the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, issuing a public apology in 2012. A compensation scheme was set up to support those who'd suffered due to the lack of paperwork.

As for the Empire Windrush, the ship made its last voyage in March 1954, catching fire and sinking in the Mediterranean Sea with the death of crew members.

Today, we're drinking a Journey of Brothers, in celebration of the British Caribbean arrivals and their families who helped restore the UK's economy following years of war and helped shape the country into the multicultural society that it is today. They are commemorated by a national monument, designed by artist Basil Watson, depicting a man, woman and child hand-in-hand and clad in their "Sunday best" climbing a mountain of suitcases. The monument, which stands in London's Waterloo station, was officially unveiled this day in 2022.

Bilbo Baggins goes home

At last Bilbo Baggins, unwilling star of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, makes it back home to Bag End in Shire Reckoning after the long Quest of Erebor, only to learn that he has been declared dead.

Poor chap, we think he probably needs a Homely Smoke to bring himself to life again.

John Dillinger's birthday

John Herbert Dillinger was one of America's most notorious gangsters who during the Depression-era led a gang that robbed 24 banks and four police stations. He was born this day in 1903 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was informally named America's first Public Enemy Number One this day 31 years later.

He started his first prison sentence in 1924 saying, "I will be the meanest bastard you ever saw when I get out of here." The physical examination upon being admitted to the prison revealed he had gonorrhoea.

Dillinger was released on parole after 9 years of that first sentence but was jailed twice more, escaping each time. He was charged with the murder of a Chicago police officer after returning fire when the officer shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest.

Dillinger was more notorious than Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie & Clyde, mainly because he courted the media with the resulting publicity painting him as a colourful Robin Hood-like character. This in turn helped FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, raise the funds and support he needed to develop the FBI to fight organised crime.

On 21st July 1934, Ana Cumpănaș (AKA Anna Sage), a Romanian immigrant brothel madam contacted the FBI offering information on Dillinger in exchange for help to prevent her deportation. She revealed that Dillinger was seeing another prostitute, Polly Hamilton, and that the three of them were due to see a movie together the following day.

FBI agents watched Sage, Hamilton, and Dillinger entering the Biograph Theater in Chicago, Illinois, which ironically was showing a gangster movie. Not wanting to risk a shoot-out inside, the agents waited for Dillinger to leave when the film ended. Reports on what exactly happened when he left are confused, but Dillinger ran into an alley where he was shot four times, the fatal bullet in the back of his neck, severed his spinal cord, passed into his brain and exited just under the right eye. Dillinger died only two months after the deaths of fellow criminals Bonnie and Clyde.

Dillinger's body was put on public display and an estimated 15,000 people viewed the corpse. Dillinger's gravestone has been replaced several times due to vandalism by people chipping off pieces as souvenirs.

In memory of this gangster's bloody end and Anna Sage, the woman who informed on him, we are drinking a Blood Sage. Incidentally, despite assisting the FBI to capture Dillinger, and agents agreeing to help her avoid deportation, she was deported to Timișoara, Romania, in 1936 where she lived until her death from liver disease in 1947.

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