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On Being Confused (purposely) with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

by Harold Pollins

Contributed by 
Harold Pollins
People in story: 
Harold Pollins
Location of story: 
Perth, Scotland
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 August 2004

Among the many preliminaries of new recruits to the army was a visit to the dental centre to have one’s teeth examined. At Perth, where my initial unit was located, the dental centre was very near my hut and we had to attend within a week or two of our joining. When it was my turn I went up to the first floor and met two fairly young, cheerful men wearing, if I remember correctly, white coats. They looked at my documents and, observing my name, both began to sing.
It was a song I had heard before and perhaps even seen it in print. It was about Harry Pollitt.
He was the general secretary of the Communist Party and later I read about him and found him to have been a boiler-maker and had something of an independent spirit about him. The Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1939, which helped to precipitate the war, and which had reversed the previous hostility between the two ideologies, had at first been opposed by the British Communist Party. But they were forced to toe the line when the ruling came from Moscow not to oppose it. Harry Pollitt stood out against this instruction.
The song about him was quite long, with many verses but the two dental officers only sang the first verse.
It went:
Harry Pollitt was a Bolshie
One of Lenin’s lads
Till he was foully murdered by counter-revolutionary cads.
By counter-revolutionary cads
By counter-revolutionary cads
Till he was foully murdered by counter-revolutionary cads.

Since my mouth was full of dental tools I could neither join in nor respond in any way.

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